Saturday, June 8, 2013

Taos Pueblo, Chimayo, Ghost Ranch

This morning was another beautiful, sunshine filled morning when we woke up.  The campground was abuzz with the sounds of lots of folks packing up and heading back to wherever they came from for the concert.  As we were driving out, waved to this nice lady I had met doing laundry the other day and she was excitedly telling her friends that Santa was coming!  Trisha had seen an ad for a yarn shop downtown in one of the brochures we had gotten at the visitor center, so we went down to visit that place, in a lovely little area of small shops, outdoor cafes and restaurants.  This turned out to be an incredible find, with lovely yarns and a delightful woman working there.  She showed us a shawl she had made that a Native American woman was coming in to buy, because she said it looked so much like a Hopi basket, and she was a docent at one of the museums in town and wanted it to wear at the museum.  Trisha found some gorgeous yarn and pattern for a beautiful scarf.  We had seen so much about Our Lady of Guadalupe, that when we learned there was a church by that name near the yarn shop, we walked over there, but it turned out to be a relative new church, instead of an ancient one so we didn't stay there very long.

Drove out to the Taos Pueblo before we left town, and it's incredible to see the main buildings, that are over 1000 years old.  The only change is the addition of doors, since in the original construction they had no doors, and the only access was to climb ladders onto the roof and then a ladder down through a hole in the roof to the living space. Of course, all the doors and window frames are now turquoise, reflecting the Spanish influence.  There are two main buildings, the North House and the South House, which are large multistory adobe structures, housing many families.  The two main dwellings are separated by the Red Willow Creek, thus why they call themselves the Red Willow People.  Now there have been a series of additional houses built, but they still are out of adobe and are in the same style as the original North House and South House. Like the Ranchos church in Taos where we were the day before, these structures require remudding every year, rather amazing when you think about having to do that every year, and they've been doing it for over 1000 years!  Many rooms on the first floor of the main houses, as well as some of the other building are now shops for vendors selling everything from jewelry, pottery and art to food, some traditional foods baked in the hornos, and some just selling soft drinks and chips they bring in to sell to the tourists.

As we walked to the San Geronimo Church, three little kids were playing out in front of their house, and as we got close, they all started pointing and giggling about Santa coming.  So I went over and talked to them and gave them each a picture, which they excitedly ran to show their parents--such fun!  Then one of the guides came over and asked for pictures for his kids and was very appreciative, and asked me to take back to the North Pole his blessing for the reindeer and the elves!  The church is really beautiful, with lots of massive and intricately carved wood columns and beams.  Inside, there is more lovely woodwork, and all the Santos--the wooden figures of the saints--are adorned in bright colors, which apparently they change with the season.  Today most were in bright pink!  There is a symbolic casket near the altar, which the literature explains was commonly placed in Spanish missions, in an effort to convert the natives to Catholic funeral practices.  The original church was built on another site, which now is the cemetery, in 1619.  Spanish priests supervised the construction, but enslaved the Indians and forced them to do the labor, and forced them to "accept" Catholicism, as a way to supposedly make them civilized--not a very pretty commentary on Christianity, a religion supposedly based on love, to force a native people into slavery and to disavow their native faith practices.  All of this was the main motivating factor that led to the Pueblo revolt of 1680, with the Taos Pueblo being the unofficial headquarters of the revolt.  The revolt was initially successful, allowing the Puebloans to live in relative peace for some years, until the Spanish reconquered them in the early 1700's.  About a hundred years later, during the US war with Mexico, some local townsfolk, along with some Puebloans, killed the territorial governor--the first American governor of what's now New Mexico and Arizona, as previous governors had been under either Spanish or Mexican governments--in an attempt to overthrow the US government.  In retaliation, the US Army came in, took several Puebloan leaders into downtown Taos and hanged them, then burned the church at the pueblo, killing many people, and leaving only the bell tower; this is how the cemetery there started.

Now, while Catholicism is regularly practiced by the majority of the residents, it is with the incorporation of many elements from the native religion.  In daily life in the pueblo, the ancient traditional practices remain dominant.

As we walked across the creek to the South House, this cute little girl came up on her bicycle and asked us if we would like to buy a painting "over there" pointing to a small building.  We thought she was just hustling for the shop owner, so we asked her if she lived there.  Her response was, no, but that's where I paint.  So we followed her  to this little shed outside the buildings, where she and her two cousins showed us her "paintings,"  actually pages in a spiral notebook where she had drawn and colored various objects.  Her highest priced work was $2, but we preferred her drawing of two hornos, which she said was $.50.  I didn't have change so we gave her a dollar for it, and as she was tearing it out of the notebook, she said, do you want me to sign and date it?  She was so cute, so we said of course we did, so that when she became a world famous artist we'd be able to say we had one of her early pieces!  So she wrote her name--Divine Harmony--isn't that the most incredible name?? and put the date on it.  She had long, flowing black hair and dancing eyes, so cute.  As we were leaving, we asked her permission to take a picture of her and her cousins, as they tell you not to photograph the people unless you are first given permission.  She said, well, okay, but we charge $2 for a picture!  By this time I only had a $20 bill in my wallet, so she walked with us next door where we bought some bottled water to get change to pay her the photo fee!  We had so much fun and came away with a treasure as valuable as any of the silver and turquoise the adults had for sale!  The Red Willow People equivalent of the sidewalk lemonade stand!!

Then we headed on toward Abiquiu, the home of Ghost Ranch, where Georgia O'Keefe lived and painted, and which is now owned by the Presbyterian Church and operated as a retreat/educational center.  On the way we stopped in the village of Chimayo, founded near the end of the 17th century, and for the next 100 years was the easternmost outpost in theProvince of New Mexico.  The village now is famous for the soft woven blankets and rugs done by two main families, and for this church, El Santuario de Chimayo.  A farmer named Bernardo Abeyta was praying at this site in 1810, noticed something shining in the soil, dug around and found a cross.  After this event. legend developed that the dirt around the place where he dug up the cross has healing powers, and people come to touch the dirt in a small pit inside the chapel.  It was a beautiful church, with low small doors leading to different rooms, the last of which has this little pit where you can not only touch the dirt, but can take a small shovel full home with you!  As you walk from the parking area to the church, there along the chain link fence, are hundreds of crosses stuck into the fence, many just made from twigs on the ground.  So Trisha made a cross and put it in the fence to pray for healing for her assistant at the Craddock Center, Tammy, and we lit a candle for Tammy inside the church.  All along this wall just outside the church are thousands of photos that people have put up of loved ones for whom they said prayers asking for healing--very moving.

But the most emotionally powerful and draining experience was visiting the Chapel for the Children--not only is there a similar wall of photos, but when you step into the chapel, there is this big display of tiny little children's shoes, hundreds of them, and it just slams you in the gut to see that.  Outside there is a sculpture showing children in a line, walking up to where Mary, Joseph and Jesus are.  Wow, it just tore a hole in our hearts.

The woman at the yarn store had told us about a gift shop near the church where we could buy this awesome chili powder, so we stopped to get some.  Tonight, Trisha made a chili sauce which we had at supper with our veggie burritos and rice and it was yummy!

After leaving Chimayo, we came on to Ghost Ranch--and is it beautiful!  It's no wonder that Georgia O'Keefe loved this place and found so much inspiration here for her work.  The campground is quite a ways by road from where the labyrinth is, and they have signs encouraging you not to drive once you get on the grounds.  After supper, we were just planning to walk around some and notice a young man coming down off a trail over this hill near our site, so we asked him where it led.   He showed us on the little diagram we had, how we could take this trail up over the hills and then down to the site of the labyrinth, so we made it just as the sun was setting.  May have missed some of the most brilliant colors, but still pretty spectacular.  Behind the labyrinth is this gorgeous red and beige rock formation, like a small mountain that just make the setting unreal.  So Trisha walked it tonight while I took some pictures; we'll come back tomorrow and walk it again.  Passed a very nice Zen rock garden, too.  On the way back, we passed the dining hall, and several meeting halls where various groups were meeting, and a hall where a large group of youth were gathering for a social evening.  It was so wonderful to see all these people here, having fun, knowing that much introspection and meditation will go along with the fun they're having.  Trisha had grown up going to the Presbyterian retreat center in Montreat, North Carolina and had always wanted to come here.  Ironically, when we were checking in, there was a volunteer who said she's from North Carolina, had never been to Montreat, but comes out here to volunteer each year!  Planning to hike up to Chimney Rock in the morning, while it's cool, and before we take the Georgia O'Keefe Landscape Tour in the afternoon.  The tours of her home and studio are very small and are usually booked up a year in advance.  Maybe when we come back out here we can get to do that one as well.  Anyway, really looking forward to tomorrow!

Today's pics:

Here's the finished product, the outfit Trisha has been knitting for our nephew's little girl, complete with leggings and a headband with a cute little knitted rose on it to match the one on the top.  This is just adorable!
 The yarn shop
 Statue of Juan Diego, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared, with a depiction of her as Our Lady of Guadalupe

 Above and below:  some of the beautiful flowers along the streets in this little area of downtown Taos. Just love these purple and white columbines!
In Taos Pueblo, the back of the church, with buttresses similar to the Ranchos church where we were the day before, and which are common in this area
 Some of the newer houses in the Pueblo
 Door into San Geronimo church--of course, no photos were allowed inside the sanctuary.
 This is the church that was built in 1850

This is the ruins of the church that was burned down as retalliation for the murder of Governor Bent; the only thing left was this bell tower

 Horno outside a house
 The North House, one of the original, 1000 year old structures

 The South House

 A newer individual house, with the horn outside--now a shop on the first floor
 Well used horn
Our budding artist, Divine Harmony, on the right, shown here with her cousins and the painting we bought--unfortunately the sun washed out the picture in this photo.
 The grounds leading up to El Santuario de Chimayo
 Crosses placed in the fence along the walkway up to the church
 Beautiful sculpture, showing a cowboy, a Native American, and a Spanish conquistador.
 Mother Mary looking down on them
 beautiful carved doors to one part of the church

 The church, from the front courtyard

 The chapel for the children--some of the exterior designs resembled some of the buildings you see in Germany.
 Images on the front entrance to the chapel.  Couldn't take pictures of the display of the shoes, as it was inside the chapel, where all photos are prohibited.

Sculpture of the children coming to see Mary, Joseph and Jesus

Ghost Ranch, walking to see the labyrinth

 The labyrinth

 In the center of the labyrinth
 Zen garden
Several shots of the gorgeous rock face behind the labyrinth

 Views as the sun was setting
 Chimney Rock--Trisha said the opening in the clouds looked like a hole into heaven

All in all, pretty spectacular sunset!


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