We had gotten lost, and although we didn’t know it at the time, it was for the best. Spot 127 had a spectacular backdrop, nestled at the foot of the cliffs near the Virgin River. When the sun peaked over the mountain, the firey sun beat down on us and sent us searching desperately for shade. We found relief underneath a small tree and thanked the gods for the small leaves that sheltered us.
We discovered the river and spent the hours wading in its cool current, not too fast, but not unstill. The mountain water swept away the sweat of the heat and cleansed our bodies of the city. We sat on the banks of white sand, catching up on the sleep we’d lost on the journey, and kept our clothes off until the sun laid lower on the western hills.
In the late, still warm afternoon we took a drive to nowhere that led us to a long, windy highway that was going somewhere. We stopped in the middle to admire the vast walls of sandstone and then made our way through the mile-long tunnel. It had taken three years to blast through and about three minutes from one end to the other in our modern car.
On the other side, a trail full wonder, with narrow walls below and a magical hollowed out cave, led us to a high lookout point through one of Zion’s canyons. The sunset was breathtaking and reminded me of why I was alive.
“No mud, No Lotus.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh (via thecalminside)
New Mexico: Land of Enchantment
Today, just before the beginning of spring, I found myself lying on the grass reading under the warm, golden sun. It kept me warm and melted the core of my body, which had been frozen since November. The Sandias were crystal clear standing tall against the clean blue sky.
New Mexico is a strange place, seemingly filled with people not originally from New Mexico creating a small melting pot in the middle of the vast desert. Their accents are strong: high-pitched, valley girl meets slow southern meets north Mexican. The cuisine is anything topped with green chili: New Mexican-style burritos, enchiladas and tacos. And blue corn. sopaipilla with honey. spice.
The Railrunner train to Santa Fe is a steal if you’re a student, only $4 one-way. Along the ride are tall mountains, Native American pueblos, and farm animals. It’s beautiful and serene.
Once there, you’ll find Santa Fe International Hostel, a non-profit hub for budget travelers. For $18 a bed, you must do your share and do a chore in the morning before check-out. Amazingly, they have free food for guests: they get nearly expired but pretty fresh foods from Whole Foods. Arriving on Sunday ensures you first dibs on the TONS of sandwiches, cheese, salads, and SO MUCH MORE they receive on a weekly basis, so great as I’d eaten almost my stay’s worth just for lunch.
Walk straight about a mile (30 min.) and you’ll get to the edge of old town where you’ll find bourgeois shops filled with imported goods from Asia, and Southwestern and Native American art. Everything is artisanal and expensive. It doesn’t take long to take in the area around the Spanish-style plaza. Get a little lost and you’ll find yourself at the fort where you can walk to the top and take in the view of the city below. It smells of burnt sage and fills you with distant memories.
In New Mexico you may get harassed walking down the street. Young boys might shout derogatory terms at you. Still young street kids might ask you for your leftovers; when you refuse, they might try to insult you. You don’t reply because they might be on something— it is, after all, the land of Breaking Bad.
Seeing the pueblos on your way back is distressing and depressing. You know who lives there and how they are treated by the larger society. You know they’re poor and although it’s a stereotype, it’s quite true that many are alcoholics and in poor physical and mental health. This fact is sobering and hard to accept when you know where they came from. At the same time they’re resilient and proud.
New Mexico has a beauty about it. It’s in the colour of the earth, the white and pink blossoms of the lovely trees, and the vibration of the land.
took the candle to my mouth
like a glass of lavender tea
Best friend and I admiring thousand year-old petroglyphscarved into rocks along the volcanic cliffs of the West Mesa escarpment.
They speak without sound.