August in Albuquerque
The grand road trip ended in Albuquerque, capital of the state of New Mexico. For those readers who aren’t from the U.S., this was the 47th state to join the union, in 1912. This happened, of course, several decades after the upstart revolutionary nation of the US declared war on Mexico, so far as I can tell essentially in order to take over most of what’s now our Southwest as well as my own adopted home state, California. Naturally, long before the Spanish-colonial creation Mexico declared governance and “ownership” of this parcel of beautiful desert, mountain and high plains, the area had been home to many native America tribes, both more nomadic and herder types, and more city-based agriculturalist-types. I believe one might think for example of the great difference in cultural habits and practices between the Apache, the Navajo, and the many different pueblo cultures such as Taos, Zuni, and the famous Hopi from what’s now Arizona (the 48th state to join the union, a month after New Mexico). Anyhoo, that’s enough about the past – in the present, New Mexico remains for me a place of beauty, cultural interest (its long history of human habitation and current highly visible and important presence of many Native-American tribes, but also of Hispanos whose ancestors were here long before the territory fell under US control), and … well, once simply can’t speak of New Mexico without pointing out its extraordinarily fine food! Inches were added to my waistline, which I’ve been working off by biking the hills of northern California. Enjoy these photos!
We were in New Mexico for my niece’s delightful wedding, which was on my own birthday. The best birthday present I’ve been given in years – a day surrounded by my family and getting to know the adult versions of my niece and nephew, and meeting her husband. Wonderful and pleasurable reason and occasion to get back to New Mexico for the first time since 2006. One thing (above) that I discovered is the city’s become more bike-commuter friendly than I recall from earlier decades. Yay! If you’re coming from an abundant-water region, the Rio Grande may not seem so very grande to you. But remember this is the Chihuahuan Desert so any river that carries water year-round is vital to all life nearby. Down below you’ll see one of many canals that channel water from the river to the fields nearby; this river’s water has been irrigating crops since the ancient native cultures, and northern New Mexico still abounds in centuries-old acequias, collectively-managed irrigation canals established under Spanish-colonial rule whose water rights have passed down through the generations and changes of government to support small-farmer descendants of the early colonial-era settlers today.
And then, of course, there are both the myriad native cultures, as well as the desert and its storms. Following are some sequences of photos of dancers at the Pueblo Cultural Center, a wonderful cultural and history center with an excellent restaurant in the heart of Albuquerque which celebrates and documents the many Puebloan cultures native to New Mexico; I think and hope these photos are permissable under their policy and will certainly remove them if they’re not. Then there’s a desert storm which rolled in one morning while I was in my hotel room. I do encourage visitors to the US to consider time in New Mexico – it’s slightly off the usual touristic beaten path, and well worth the trip in my view. What I show here is just the tip of the iceberg.