Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cheyenne In New Mexico

Cheyenne used to sit in the car when she first came to our house, determined never to be left behind anymore. Fine we said, this is a traveling dog, just right. In 2010 we drove to California and Cheyenne braved the desert heat to walk around with me while the wife shopped. Always a good time with Cheyenne. I miss her terribly but I have come to understand what a truly magnificent gift she was. She had a rotten start in life owned by a  military family from Louisiana who allowed her to get shot with an air gun pellet, who frightened her such that she was afraid to go into the kitchen and got her used to lying on a hard floor without a bed and abandoned her for a younger model. Despite all that at eight she adopted a whole new family and took to the new life without looking back. I often wondered if she thought about her old family or her puppies and the life she left behind. I did my best to make up for lost time in the six years I had her and in the end she gave me the greatest gift of all that I have never had before. She gave me a perfect death done on her terms as she had lived her life with me. And as much as I miss her she liberated me to be ready to get another dog, to start again without fear of guilt, resentment or sorrow. I still cry, I miss her that badly but in the same way she went ahead with what she had to do she gave me the courage to go ahead and be prepared for the next dog in my life. I'm not sure who or what that will be but Cheyenne will be there with me in the next adventure. As much as i want her back I am at peace with the knowledge I can't have her. After today she will be archived and we move on.

La Mesilla

We left Van Horn, Texas not too early in the morning, and faced several more hours of this:I might rather have been doing this than finding myself struggling to pay attention behind the wheel as we droned through through the abomination of desolation:
A couple of things were working in our favor as we drove to make a dinner deadline with Josh in Tempe, Arizona. They are called Time Zones. Van Horn is just to the eats of the divide between central and Mountain times so five minutes after we left the Motel 6 at nine o'clock, the time suddenly became 8:05 am. Then, because Arizona doesn't observe Summer Time we effectively entered the Pacific Time Zone when we crossed from New Mexico. All this messing with the clocks meant we could dawdle on our way through the deserts. Though we didn't dawdle in the urban nightmare that is El Paso on the Mexican Border.The border has been tightened up so much we just looked across the meandering Rio Grande river at the slums of Old Mexico from the comfort of our first world freeway. In years past I have driven down to the American side of the river and watched the Mexicans wade the border, but these days it is a no go zone heavily patrolled by federal agents behind the imposing new fence.
Drawing away to the north on I-10 the Interstate took us into southern New Mexico and that state's second largest city. Las Cruces boasts a population of some 85,000 people in a city so bland it has a four lane highway driving through the middle. years ago, looking for downtown we asked a shop clerk where it was. She looked blank and said simply:"Here." So we wrote Las Cruces off as a pit. This time my wife's iPhone indicated killer burritos were to be had at a little store on the main drag into town. We parked the Fusion (Cheyenne, really) safely in the shade and went looking for food in this unlikely place.Urban Spoon is the wife's favorite application on her iPhone and as i drive and Cheyenne sleeps she is busy working away on the phone. "I think we should try here for lunch," she says confidently. This from a woman who can't read a map, even after 16 years of marriage. In Las Cruces Urban Spoon says eathere, at the Fina Station's Santa Fe Grill...
Four dollars and eighteen cents each and we sit down with a red chili burrito and a green chili burrito and they are delicious.We order one wrapped in a tortilla and one on a plate and as Jewish marriage law requires, we share. My wife says it's the law so it must be, and she's Jewish. Note the potato cubes, an unusual and perfect addition.We cause hushed horror at the check out when we ask if we can drink a beer with our lunch so we retreat hastily and open cokes. "A bit too European," I mutter to my giggling wife. The beer we keep for later and yummy it was too.
Lunch among the aspirin. Living as I do in the Florida Keys it had been a while since I had seen a dandelion.We happen to spot a sign from the car pointing to a historic district and so, with time zones to spare we meander south across the Interstate. We stumble across Old Mexico in New Mexico.
Cheyenne took the lead past the church of San Albino.The church as it happens, offers refuge to embarrassed women. Embarazada in Spanish actually means pregnant (don't get all serious on me here) and naturally the Catholic influence in this part of the world means pregnancy is actually embarrassing and apparently San Albino wants to save every possible soul as discreetly as possible by sticking up a bi-lingual sign to the effect that if you are PREGNANT we can help.
If you do happen to look Middle Eastern (embarrassed or not) this lot are also here to help- boot you out.Cheyenne said it was too hot for a tea party thanks.
Mesilla is also known as La Mesilla or Old Mesilla depending on who you ask and has a population of about 2,000 people, far smaller than neighboring Las Cruces. What happened was the city wanted to overcharge the railroad to come through town and when a farmer in Las Cruces offered them free dirt they jumped at the offer and Mesilla got sidelined by history.
Bad for them, great for tourists as the town is the epitome of New Mexican adobe without all the tourist trap overdone bullshit of Taos. Mesilla is lovely, understated and much appreciated by the people who have discovered this lovely little town. I highly recommend a stop if you are cruising Interstate Ten through New Mexico. Cheyenne had a great time too.Apparently Mesilla was a border town separating Old Mexico from the United States as the Yankees moved west. The exact border was disputed until the Gadsden Purchase settled the border in 1853, putting the city in the US. Then in the Civil war the western Confederates occupied the city and claimed it as the Capital of the Arizona Territory for their side. California Volunteers recaptured it in 1862 and the fighting was effectively over in this part of the world.
These days Mesilla is a town filled with tourist knick knack shoppes, wine tasting, and restaurants. My wife loved poring over the jewelry, rugs, wraps and statues in the stores. One store keeper told us Mesilla is, weirdly enough, a hub for snowbirds who don't mind cold temperatures but want to escape winter snows. This town is hopping apparently in winter. I, who think 50 degrees is cold find it hard to picture people swanning around here in mid winter talking about how lovely the weather is.

Outside this home we see, in addition to the fence, the classic New Mexican decorative ristra which is a string of drying chile peppers. This serves the dual purpose of decorating the home and providing dry pepper pods to spice up cooking during the winter.
Mesilla is much lovelier than I have managed to portray here. I am astonished we never previously discovered it as we sued to practically live on I-10 when we were moving our lives from Santa Cruz to Key West.

The classic Latin American raised sidewalks seen here:
Here we see the shady arcade covering the sidewalks around the plaza.
Courtyards and alleys are a big deal in this town.
The plaza is a good place to take one's ease and imagine one is in Old Mexico.
This shot is for buffetguy and riepe. She liked Cheyenne enough to show off some cleavage. Good dog.
We spent a fair bit of time and money in this store. All the shop owners were friendly and easy going about having the dog in their stores.
Bright sun, mountains, and more miles to cover.
Got to keep moving, though now we had some New Mexican red wine in the trunk, along with peppered nuts, jellies and pepper candy.