31 July 2008


The PBS series P.O.V had an excellent documentary on this evening called The Last Conquistador. It was the story of a sculpter who was commissioned by the city of El Paso to build a 34 foot tall sculpture of Don Juan de Onate, Spanish explorer and Governor of the New Mexico province when Spain still claimed a large chunk of the southwest. Onate founded both El Paso and Santa Fe.

The statue is a gorgeous piece of art. It has however caused controversy and old wounds to reveal themselves. Don Ornate was not only an explorer commisssioned by Spain to take Catholicism to the tribal indians he was also a purpetrator of genoside, wiping out 800 Acoma Indians at the Acoma Pueblo [see my post Acoma City in the Sky under the Ancient Cities column.]. He enslaved the survivors of the Acoma massacre, and had the left foot of all Acoman men over the age of 25 chopped off.

He was a brutal and stern Governor. He ruled over the local tribes, clerics and Spanish colonists with an iron fist. Eventually word got back to Mexico and he was recalled and tried for his treatment of the citizens of New Spain.

One has to wonder why on Earth the city of El Paso would want to erect a statue in his honor. The statue cost about $2 million dollars to which many citizens of El Paso would say could have been on the poor economic conditions in their city. In fact the documentary points out that many El Pasoans do not even know or care who he was.

The statue was eventually built and stands today. However, on a local show after the documentary aired, the sculptor was interviewed and said that since the controversy the name and story of the piece has been removed from the statue base by the city.

The Acoman indians were asked to come up with their own plaque telling the story from their side but they declined and simply want the sculpture torn down.

It would be interstng to see if there are any statues of the conquistadors in Mexico City itself considering its conquer by the Spanish
I highly recommend the POV documentary should it show up on your local PBS station.
I'm out.

27 July 2008


My friend Clay and I drove up to the Santa Fe Brewing Co again, this time to see the Yonder Mountain String Band part of the 'new grass' blue grass movement.

They have found themselves in some hot water with purists for 'electrifying' their instruments. -- but man you have not heard stuff like this before...distortion feedback from...a mandolin!!! A W E S O M E!!

It started out as a gorgeous evening but rain clouds moved in and by the last third of the show it started to thunder with big streaks of lightning and then a steady down poor of rain.

It's summer so from our end it was great but the guys on stage were worried about getting electrocuted so they ended the show. Not bad though..they had already played two hours!!!! It was still a great night!!

I'm out.

26 July 2008

Hasta El Dia De Hoy

Since moving to New Mexico one of the most frustrating things for me has been local radio. All the talk stations are conservative and the hosts annoying. All the music stations are programmed with crap I can't stand. I have had to find alternatives. I find myself listening to the 'oldies' station alot...Bobby Box is allowed to play his own stuff for the most part and many times plays stuff I simply have not heard before like early RnB lwhich is cool. Also I have grown very fond of 'Banda' music. Mix German 'oompahpah' with guitars and traditional Mexican sounds and you get some very cool stuff. It's of course not for everyone's taste but this sound is infectious on me. I'm hooked on a guy named Darey Castro. I saw him recently while flipping channels and he had a whole brass band with him...trumpets, tuba, clarinets and they all gave their all on stage. Here he is performing at a rodeo in Pico Rivera. Love this song even though I don't understand a word he's saying. Go figure.

25 July 2008


Funny how weather events 878 miles away can effect my world. The remnants of Hurricane Dolly are pushing their way towards New Mexico...combine that with our normal monsoon moisture from the west and...kaboom. We're getting buckets of rain...in fact its raining cats and dogs and chickens!!!. Not to mention it sounds like the Iraqi war zone!!!!. Ahhh New Mexico...so far from Heaven...so close to Texas.

Pardon me while I practice my backstroke.

I'm out.

22 July 2008


The first video is of 'the pool' where early visitors to the area would stop and load up on water. My fancy-schmancy new camera takes good pics but the videos come out crappy for some reason. My apologies.

This is the view from the top of El Morro. The trail continued past this to the other side of El Morro but the lightning and thunder were beginning to creep me out so I stopped there and went back down. I shall return.

I'm out.

20 July 2008

"Paso por aqui!!"

It has been awhile since I took a road trip so I decided to head west. In Albuquerque it was cloudy, hot and humid. The monsoons are in full force and by four pm the clouds are sure to build up as they have all week. The Rio Grande sure looked pretty though.

It was a good day to be out on your...chopper??

The weather quickly changed as I got out of town. Dark clouds loomed overhead.

As the rain clouds opened up so did the beautiful vistas.

My destination was El Morro aka Inscription Rock. To get there you take I-40 west to Exit 81 and 53 south. Follow the signs.

This one was NOT very comforting.

Nor was the dirt road leading directly to the large black clouds over-head. Can you say 'wash-out' or 'flash flood' or 'rivers of muck'. I was worried about them all.

My worries quickly vanished as this is New Mexico and weather changes every five minutes. The sky opened up to overcast. Kept the heat at bay which was cool.

El Morro. An oasis in the desert to the Pueblo Indians, the Conquistadors and the US Cavalry.

Wouldn't ya know it. I spoke too soon. No sooner had I parked when the clouds re-appeared.

This time they parked right over El Morro. As I walked up to the visitors center the Park Ranger was outside looking at the ominous cloud and says "this doesn't look good."

The park ranger suggested that I do not venture to the top but just take the bottom trail.

You could hear lightning and thunder as we spoke. I did not want to become another statistic as New Mexico has enough people being struck by lightning. I heeded her warning and just roamed around the bottom trails.

Okay...not for very long -- these stairs were pleading for me to climb them.
Within a few minutes the skies parted again and it cleared up. [Granted lightning can travel for two miles -- I took the chance.]

Keep in mind these stairs are VERY steep in parts and I do not recommend the climb if you are not in shape. Ok climb very slowly and you should be ok. Also, make sure you have water even on cloudy days. Be a safe hiker not a dumb one. This climb will be worth the view, believe me!!!

Oh the view. God's country for sure. Just think...the Zuni Indians saw this view as did the Conquistadors and members of the US Cavalry. Now me. And now, you.

At the top of the trail are the Atsinna ruins, left by Zuni inhabitants who moved on as towns rose up in near by areas.

El Morro is also known as Inscription Rock because over the centuries Pueblo Indians, Conquistadors, the US Calvary and other travelers have left their mark on its face.

The most famous would be that of Don Juan Onate, the first governor of New Spain. He left his mark on April 16, 1605. He would start off with "Paso por aqui" or "passed/stepped by here".

"Paso por aquĆ­, 20 de julio de 2008 "

I'm out.