• brandenfugate

Road Notes: Day 151

Happy Easter, ya little cottontails. Living life on the road makes holidays never really feel like holidays. Today is just another day, except that it is Branden’s one day off per week. As committed sleeper-inners and brunch-eaters as we usually are in our normal life, this Earthship schedule has us feeling like old people. Today we slept in to a whopping 8:30! We lazed around in bed in our underwear, read books, and drank coffee. I had done some research for fun stuff to do around Taos and was fully loaded with options to discuss over the mandatory day off breakfast.

Taos diner seems to be THE brunch spot. We didn’t have to wait for a table, but it was packed. New Mexico is known for their chile sauces. There are two types of New Mexicans: red chile saucers and green chile saucers. We need to do some more field research to determine our preference, so we went with the breakfast burrito, Christmas style (both sauces). To be honest, neither sauce did knocked our socks off. More research to come.

After a bit of debate, we decided to check out Santuario de Chimayo. It is about an hour away near Española. It is supposedly the ‘holiest place in America.’ In the late early 1800s, a local friar saw glow in the distance. He found that it was coming from underground. He dug with his bare hands until he found a strange crucifix with a black Jesus. The crucifix, known as “Black Christ of Esquipulas,” was moved to a nearby church in Santa Cruz. However, it disappeared, returning to the hole it was removed from. This happened a bunch of times, until somebody decided to just build a church over the hole. The church has been standing in the town of Chimayo since 1810. Dirt extracted from the hole became regarded as sacred and people claimed it possessed healing qualities, launching pilgrimages to come collect the “tierra bendita.” Apparently, there was some truth to the crucifix being discovered. It was brought to Chimayo from Esquipulas, Guatemala by a priest that was converting Native Americans. He was buried in Chimayo with the cross. It is also interesting to note that the land was considered by the native people to be sacred, even before Christians arrived.

So…this sounded like a fun way to spend our Easter! Catholicism is foreign to both of us, but it is fascinating. It definitely has some of the best and creepiest art. Overall, it is pretty dark. This place was no exception. There were altars everywhere, covered in offerings of rosaries, and candles. People posted pictures of loved ones near religious carvings. We waited in line to enter the “holy dirt room.” Luckily, we had just been in the gift shop and bought our “holy dirt bag” (what the sign said, verbatim) so we were prepared. We scooped up our fair share of the dirt to take home with us. Some people purchase ‘milagros’ or miracles, little charms representing the part of the body which ails you. You rub the healing dirt on your milagro to speed up the healing process. Some people straight up eat the dirt. I told Branden we should use it in a cocktail. I had read that because so many people visit the site, they started running out of dirt. They now replace it with other dirt from somewhere else. Don’t worry. It is consecrated by the hole, so it’s pretty much the same thing.

I really enjoyed all of the folk art around the entire complex. When traveling Europe, I often visited churches because they are usually the oldest, best maintained buildings in any city. This church was so different. It had a truly American folk flair to it that was so unique. Everything had obvious Mexican and Native American influences. The very best part was the dancing team that performed when we first arrived, the Danza San Judas Tadeo. Men, women, and children of all ages dances with gourd shakers, bows with arrows that made a clapping sound, and intense drums.

After exploring the compound and gathering our holy souvenirs, we drank, of course. Rancho de Chimayo is a very old restaurant. They were quite busy, so we just had some drinks in the lounge. Piñon is a big thing here…you can get incense made out of it, and Branden ordered a piñon roasted coffee. I had a pretty basic margarita. Hey…we are in the southwest. I need to increase my tequila consumption.

The drive to and from was pretty incredible. We traveled through reservation land, past cemeteries and buildings that looked older than time. This really is a magical place.

Road Notes are timed entries—written in thirty minutes or less at the end of each day. Considerations are made for spelling/legibility but not for grammar. Deal with it.


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