As many of you, who have read this blog over the years know, I have a serious thing for New Mexico. We manage to go there at least once a year to visit some very close friends, get our inner batteries charged, and eat our fill of fine New Mexican cooking. This past weekend we put out an extra large bowl of water and kibble for the kids. Beth and I headed South by Southwest.
Since our marriage, 18 years ago, Beth and I have made a point to go away at least once a year for a vacation just "for us". We love our kids, but we find it very important to have a little one on one time, away from the stresses and responsibilities of being parents. New Mexico is one of our favorite places for us to escape to. The solstice had passed, so why not head South?
One of the things I love most about New Mexico is the infamous green chili cheeseburger. I try to eat one a day while there. The guy at the car rental recommended we try Bob's Burgers. It did not take much arm bending to get us there. 1690 Rio Bravo Blvd, SW Albuquerque is this location.
Beth was feeling adventuresome so she had the Taco Burger, well, she was feeling real adventuresome and had two. A burger in a taco shell with everything you would normally put on gringo style tacos. New Mexicans got it going on dude!!! I had the Ranchero Burger (meat, cheese, green chili, lettuce, tomato). Sorry, no photo, I was too busy wolfing it down.
Our friends joke about needing us to come down more often. Most people bring a gift of wine or some other thoughtful item, we bring much needed rain as our gift.
On previous visits we had never walked down the mesa to the Madrid(mad rid, not ma drid) Cemetery. I have never felt a desire to be put in the ground once dead. I have never really understood why people are buried. Well, that was until I went to the Madrid Cemetery.
Before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, there were other non native people already claiming this land as their own. Unlike the Pilgrims however, the Spanish were not very interested in learning from the native people, they were to be exploited. They were viewed as the animals to be used in the mining of the vast amounts of gems, minerals, and precious metals found through out this area. Some of those Spanish conquerers were laid to rest in this same plot of land as today, the locals are.
Being a boom town brought out all levels of society. Their graves reflect their status in life.
Some graves are very simple affairs. A photo of the departed is usually in the frame. The elements and lack of living kin have stripped the images out of most of the markers.
Home made markers are very common in this grave yard. No marble for a head stone? Cast some concrete instead.
Some families had the money for marble. Unfortunately every angel, saint, or figure had it's head whacked off. Somewhere in the surrounding area are a bunch of head stone heads, probably stollen by someone a little out of their own head.
There were a lot of these simple wrought iron crosses.
Also the simple wooden cross was well represented. Funny thing, not one cross in the entire cemetery stood straight upright.
Most of the head stones are home made. It must be hard burying your darling son...
On July 23rd, 1878 a dozen people died. I can only guess there was an accident at one of the mines. Virtually all the Madrid mines were coal mines. Coal mines are deadly places to work. 140 years ago they were really dangerous places.
The newer parts of the cemetery is what moves me the most. Each and everyone of the graves is very personal and shows a great deal of creativity
Some are very simple.
Some are more elaborate. I used to drink a lot of that Arizona iced tea. It only comes in plastic or a can now.
If ever in Madrid, ask a local where the cemetery is and pay it a visit.
The real reason we go to Madrid is to visit with Tim. Tim is a fascinating person who has lived a large life. He has never let it pass him by, instead he embraces it with all his being. I am truly honored to know Tim. He is kind of like the older brother I never had. We look kind of like brother don't we? We might not be family, but Tim always treats us like we are.
This is Tim's Madrid Cruiser. As I said, Tim grabs the bull by the horns!
Tim is a very rounded guy. He loves to prospect for all kinds treasures and then turn them into even bigger treasure. Here he is working some turquoise from his own mine in Cerrilios, just North of Madrid.
These will become some earrings for Ava. She wanted blue as her color, but Tim's mine produces turquoise of all colors. There is the blue you see here and also a dark blue, light green, dark green and white. The amount of copper in the stone effects the color. Cerrillios turquoise is highly prized for it's variance in colors often on the same nugget. It was so prized, it graced the nobles of Spain. They saw it looked good on the emperor of the Aztec empire when they conquered him and decided they needed some for themselves. A cave in at a turquoise mine in Cerrilios is what lead to the start of the Pueblo Revolution. Tim's mine is a 1/4 mile as the crow flies from where that mine collapse took place in 1680.
The land where Tim's mine is has been exploited for centuries. Old workings and dwellings dot the landscape in the oddest places
Many of these dwelling offer very little comfort. I cannot imagine what it was like living in there on a below zero day.
But in those hills right there is gold. Gold is a strong motivator. To sweeten the pot, those hills contain coal, silver, lead, tin, turquoise, and dozen other valuable gems or minerals. Those are some very rich hills right there.
It takes very little effort to find evidence of man having been here. Even in the most remote spots you find tell tail signs. Broken glass shows where the new settlers were. Pottery shards litter the ground where the original settlers were.
An other give away is the many walls falling back into the landscape.
This was a town of 300 families at one time. The last house has almost fallen to the ground.
You have seen this ore shoot in a previous post. It fed a stamp mill that processed galena for it's precious metals. Some of the galena contains lead, silver, and or gold. Sometimes the ore has free milling metals you can see right on the rocks surface. A lot of material was spilt at this site as it processed ore for a number of mines in the area. I love searching where ore was spilt. The gold sings to me and often it ends up in my pocket.
I just have to make it fully clear, I love this place. In my next post, I will post about northern New Mexico, another place I love.