Returned & Enchanted: Through the Lands of New Mexico & Arizona (Part II)

Santa Fe(Click here for Part I)

Once we arrived to the Sante Fe area, that was kind of it. Even though we had planned a couple of days in each destination, it effortlessly turned into a week here. There is simply an abundance of beauty to see and adventures to be had around here.

On a Saturday, we spent the morning at the Nambe Pueblo for its Feast day, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi (the patron of animals and ecology). I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit a modern day pueblo. It was beautiful, driving around there. The country roads and the houses felt imbued with tranquility. The sun was shining generously, it was a gorgeous day. I quickly realized that my ideas on present day Native American culture were a little naive, and romanticized. When I had called for information on the Feast Day (there was little information listed online) and was told the first ceremonial event would take place at 9AM, I was surprised to discover once we arrived that this gathering was no other than mass. Indeed, this particular pueblo is part of those that have been, over time, Hispanicized and Catholicized. It was a brand new experience for me, one that I welcomed with an open heart, a respectful mind and curious eyes. I felt honored to be there and to witness a culture, life, and community opening their doors to us.

Life is full of humor and surprises. The priest leading mass looked disturbingly identical to Louis CK (one of my favorite people), which brought me more than a few heartfelt laughs. But I also found myself in tears taking in the wisdom and beauty expressed in these special moments when, regardless of our origins, we find we are all living the story of Life, losing and gaining, grieving and birthing, being called back to Spirit, finding the need to gather, to ground in tradition, to celebrate the ancient, to honor the Divine that accompanies our human lives.

Following was an entrancing ceremonial dance, where generations of men, women, and children intertwined and moved to the sounds of drumming and chanting. Their colorful guises and shouts, their beautiful bodies dancing in the sun, were quite a sight. A powerful experience that inspires respect and heightens consciousness. We then wandered through the arts & crafts fair, leaving with some jewels and Indian fried bread.

We spent the afternoon strolling around Sante Fe. Eating (always important), exploring, enjoying the shops and architecture, sipping on the deliciously warm atmosphere of the buzzing town. We napped in the grass, in the sun, in a park, before heading to theaters to watch the Skeleton Twins, a movie I completely ADORED. It prompted some huge releases of emotion, from hysterical laughing to hysterical crying, and everything in between. I found it pitch perfect: wildly entertaining, deeply fulfilling, and brilliantly written and acted.

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I loved learning about Saint Francis of Assisi, a man who cherished the Earth and all of its beings, calling them and our planet and sun and moon his brothers and sisters. He even referred to his chronic illnesses and death as his sisters. What wisdom! Stories tell of him preaching to the birds and dissuading a wolf from harming a town. He believed Nature itself to be the mirror of God.

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The next day, we went to meet our host and new friend. A dear friend’s sister offered to host us for a few days, and I was ecstatic. We had the chance to spend about 5 days at her most lovely home, got to know this stunningly wonderful lady, a true lover of New Mexico who had an abundance of amazing recommendations, and the absolute sweetest of dogs. My dream of staying in an adobe house came true. We were walking distance from an incredible gluten-free bakery (which easily became breakfast headquarters), and morning walks through the radiant neighborhood and its Fall-colored gardens and bird songs and roaming kitties filled me with joy. My heart sang as I woke each morning knowing what awaited me.

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On Sunday, we did little but rest, leaving the house only to get a taste of heaven at the Teahouse. Canyon Road also turned out to be one of my favorite areas in Santa Fe. Such lush beauty, and pops of color at every corner. Simply irresistible to me! Food-wise, I also recommend this delicious and original Ayurveda-based vegetarian cafe (that comes with a chai shoppe! Uhm, heck yes!).

Santa FeSanta FeA wise quote that really spoke to me (after Garett pointed out that it was to be read from bottom to top, once I’d read it three times backwards, and yet, even then, it spoke to me so much!), which I later found written down in one of my dad’s notebooks.

On Monday, we hiked through the Sangre de Cristo mountains and wandered through a most enchanted forest. It was truly magnificent. A magical sea of yellow. I savored every moment of being in this amazing wonderland, feeling the childlike thrills of mingling with the marvel of this world.

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The next day was pure blissful relaxation. We spent the afternoon soaking at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. This place is so awesome. You pay a mere $18 for the day, and you have access to a beautiful and peaceful area where you can enjoy 5 different pools, geothermal mineral waters having flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer with four different types of mineral water including lithia, iron, soda and arsenic. And in between soaking, you can enjoy the sauna, steam room, and mud bath. There are hammocks and lounging chairs to bathe in the sun, and showers featuring luxurious wild crafted bath and beauty products. Just… so delightful.

We drove away feeling deeply rejuvenated and relaxed, headed to a very special concert. I’ve grown up with my dad raving about this magnificent Indian percussionist named Zakir Hussain. I’d seen videos upon videos of this genius man, and it just so happened that the day before, Garett had seen in the local newspaper he’d been playing in town. We were able to snag a couple of great seats, in a gorgeous venue, too. That evening, in the grand presence of three virtuosos (the show also featured violinist Kumaresh Rajagopalan and veena instrumentalist Jayanthi Kumaresh), we voyaged through the transcendental sounds of music thousands of years old. Ascending through cosmic beats and feeling our souls plucked and vibrated along with the singing of the strings… I thought to myself, this is what it means to channel Spirit through your craft. The beauty and grace of this performance left me speechless, and awakened.

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The next day we ventured up the High Road to Taos, to visit this funky town and explore the Earthship Biotecture World Headquarters. The High Road demonstrates some of New Mexico’s most magnificent landscapes. Venturing through the highs and lows of the red desert earth, traversing vibrant forests overlooking lush country hills, and swaying in and out of strange and colorful little towns. A true delight for the senses and the soul.

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We quickly stopped through town for some lunch before heading to the earthships, passing over the dizzying Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and its astonishingly beautiful sights.

I was really excited to finally see some earthships in the flesh, after hearing about them for years and years from my brother, who has long been a passionate and knowledgeable advocate of them. Experiencing them was deliriously magical. Walking through these homes of the future. These homes of the New World. The kind of creative genius that renews your faith in humanity. Yep. So much love and gratitude for the goodness of what my fellows are birthing and developing in this world.

If you’re not familiar with them, earthships are highly sustainable buildings made with natural and recycled materials that produce their own electricity and food, harvest and reuse water for a variety of uses, and provide thermal/solar heating and cooling for comfortable temperatures in any climate. Fascinating, revolutionary.

We even had a fun little run-in with the man who began it all, rockstar Mike Reynolds.

I knew little about the man, but investigating this brilliant system, I remember thinking… this man is attuned to something else.

As we prepared to leave, we walked through the gift shop, and there I saw some of Mike’s books. I was very attracted to one of them in particular, who revealed itself in a mind-blowing instance of synchronicity. I bought it and became completely entranced with it. Indeed, it turns out Reynolds is a metaphysician. This book (A Coming of Wizards by Michael Reynolds) is experiential, expansion-inducing, and just plain fantastic. I highly recommend it.

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Returned & Enchanted: Through the Lands of New Mexico & Arizona (Part I)

Palo Duro

So a couple of months ago… Garett and I decided it was time for a trip. We had both been yearning to travel and breathe some new air, explore some new lands. As some of you may know by now, we’ve been going through a tremendously intense year and a half. My dad was very ill, and after some traumatizing (and divinely transformative) months, he passed away last February. Time has been entirely subjective and irrelevant. These days, I rarely know what day or month it is. Grieving has broken me open. My reality and all parts of my identity have been shattered, but the rebirth and awakening that have ensued have brought me Life, a life I never knew even before my dad’s illness. A life that is grand, beautiful, moving, and extraordinary, and that is more in alignment with my soul’s calling and more expressive of my purpose than anything I could have conceived of in the past. The greatest gift. The alchemical gold that escaped me despite years of spiritual study and even more years of painful longing. Hungering for the truth, the communion, freedom, love, and exhilaration we are to know.

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When the time is right, it all works out, right? Garett was able to take 3 weeks off work quite last minute easily, and we decided to take a roadtrip across New Mexico and Arizona. We knew little of these places, and they are our neighbors. It made sense. At the time, I still couldn’t imagine that anywhere could make me happier than returning to California, but soon, I understood why we chose these lands and why they chose us.

This time around, we set off to be a little more adventurous, and agreed to car-camp. Accommodations easily become the greatest expense, and we preferred to spend that money on other joys. Thanks to the magic of modern technology and helpful websites, it seemed easy enough. I put together a rough itinerary with enticing points of interest, but we knew we would be carried forth by Spirit, and soon, after much anticipation, we were on our way.

Palo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroWe began by heading North of home, stopping by the gorgeous Palo Duro Canyon (see above) before crossing over to New Mexico. Few people know, this Texas gem is the second largest Canyon in the US. There, we had a few hours to explore before the park closed, wandering the heights and depths of the canyon, finding our way to a little cave, whose natural entrance and its impressive markings seemed grand and mystical enough to be that of an ancient temple carved into the rock. As soon as we were out there, hanging above the dizzying view of marvelous minerals and colors extending far into the horizon, I felt the difference in the air that seeped into my body. It felt fresher, already. I felt freer. We witnessed the sunset from the highest point and watched the colors change. As the light withdrew, the bright oranges turned into exquisite shades of purple, mauve, rust and burgundy, now showing all of their depths and nuances. We held each other as the wind blew strong and the temperature lowered.

AlbuquerqueBelow, some shots from charming Albuquerque.AlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerque

We quickly found out it would be indeed simple to car-camp. Finding ourselves in visitor centers, camp sites, Wal-mart and other welcoming parking lots. Only once did we have to crash into a motel room after finding nowhere to stay late at a night in a shady border town.

AlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueDown one of Albuquerque’s many whimsical courtyards, we found a little gem. A French restaurant, whose name promised of crepes… one of our favorite foods, which sent us reminiscing about some of our bestest times in Paris. We had to stop. I asked them to make me my childhood’s favorite food – a crêpe à la béchamel, which is a crepe stuffed with a French melt-in-your-mouth gravy that tastes like heaven. When I was a child, I would sit with with a spoon and eat entire pans filled with this most amazing stuff. It was a sweet moment to taste it once again.AlbuquerqueAlbuquerque

The development of this voyage was two-fold. On one side, the incredibly fun and enthusing adventures and experiences we enjoyed each day, most often out in nature, hiking and exploring, and on the other side, the transmutation and changes undergone by my inner being, which were far beyond what I had the means to understand prior to our journey.

It’s so exciting to be outside of the confines and familiarity of our daily lives. I think this is something we can all relate to. Waking up every day in a new place, having the entire day ahead to simply follow your desires and immerse yourself in the current of life, wherever it takes you, whatever it presents to you, however it works on you. And indulging in every pleasure on the way. A sure path to rejuvenating every aspect of the self, and nourishing the soul to wholeness.

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Around the magnificent Sandia Peak.Sandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia Peak

I was very taken aback by what I found in New Mexico. I remember going there with my family when I was 15, and finding a sense of peace and ease between the blue mountains, the clear sky and the red earth, that I had not yet found in the little time I had been in America. This time around, it was the same essence that came over me, but I felt it even more deeply, at the very center of my being, along the vertical axis of my soul, and in the deepest pocket of my heart. I’m a daughter of the sea. Nothing brings me a feeling of liberation, breath and freedom like the ocean. And yet, the land of New Mexico turned out to be the exact medicine I needed.

The Nature there felt majestic and powerful way beyond the physical world. And at the same time, in all its bareness, it was also feminine, receptive, soft and nourishing. I found that the curves of its mountains were smooth and embracing, naked against the sky. From afar, they were a fading blue, and as we approached them, they unveiled a vibrant beauty of green and yellow. Oh, we were lucky to be there for Fall. To bathe in the fantastic weather and to be surrounded by the blooming Aspens and their blazing solar energy. Earth red like a raw heart, invoking life force from the deadened parts of you. And the calming tone of giant minerals grounding, pacifying, chanting a wisdom ancient and primal, lodged in our DNA, vibrating in our flesh, calling us Home.

That is what Nature felt like to me in New Mexico. As I wandered her grounds, I felt seen, seen for who I really am, recognized for my essence and truth. This all happened with no words in my head and little understanding from my logical brain. It happened with no previous knowing of this kind of intimate encounter. Because the way her energies came to interact and fuse with mine felt deeply intimate. It all felt natural, and easy. I was being worked on by its Spirit while it opened up to my own with the grace and embrace of a Mother, or Sister. Of an equal, that is for sure. We are made of the same, after all. That reminder suddenly felt so real.

I quickly realized most of the time, my head had become silent. I was fully present, simply because it was so. I sat or walked and contemplated Her, and saw beauty, power, and perfection, those that are beyond anything created by the human mind, well outside of modern times and problems. She felt fierce, timeless, sure. Just being, and in its being, emanating the essence of Life itself, of God, offering a haven of awe-inspiring proportions and yet such intimacy at once.

And as I felt deeply entranced and enamored with the insanely magnificent, inherently perfect, wildly intelligent, benevolent and indescribably grand nature of Nature, I began to see that it was Life itself that is that way. I began to feel the same about Life.

Diving into the nature of Nature granted me a new perspective on Life. A renewed love and reverence for it. An understanding in the fibers of my being of what it is, perhaps even, why it is, and the settling understanding of being a part of it, a part of it all.

I experienced a renewal of my faith in Life. For something that is that outrageously beautiful, of a power unmatched, of a nature eternal, existing and embracing the above as the below, the me, the mine, the individual and the all – something of that beauty, can only be something good. Can only be the why I am here. And the why it is worth it. Why it is all sacred. The deep, visceral, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, rage-inducing pain of my dad being gone, of my dad having left me, endured in each moment of every day, of every breath. And simultaneously, the rising of myself growing into my Self, my true Self, my most authentic and vibrant self, in all her humanity and all her divinity. My growing into a woman. Into my truth. Bringing me to stand anew with honesty, humility, and naked sensibility.

It’s funny because right before leaving, I wrote a kind of poem, speaking of grief like an endless walk in the desert night. I wrote about life and nature surrounding me and feeling cold, distant, disconnected, and out of reach. In reality, when I got out there, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The landscapes I came upon felt completely new. I actually found myself feeling infinitely safe, protected and self-assured in the desert. Many times a day, I couldn’t believe my eyes and the roaring beauty I was witnessing. And it took no effort to be completely, wholly, with it, a part of it. To understand the language of nature. To hear my own whispers and cries being reflected back to me in the wind, leaves and clouds. To find sturdy comfort and protection in the rocks. To see the fairies in the yellow and red trees. To kiss the air, to bow in love, to recognize that there was nothing to do or practice or anything needed at all but simply breathing and presence.

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