Las Cruces: Part One

I got into Las Cruces on Thursday, the 12, and as I had just got into to town I drove by an Art Gallery having an all World of Don Quixote Exhibit.  I went right around the block and parked and went in.  I LOVE Don Quixote.  When I was a youngster, my brother took my Mom to see the play in Boston.  She bought the soundtrack and the music from Man of la Mancha filled the house for months.  Believe it or not, it never got old- at least to me.  All of us kids knew every word on the cassette. I finally saw the movie with Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren and I liked that too.  It was like Don Quixote was a part of my life, as if I knew him.  It wasn’t until two years ago, I read the book.  It is an amazing book! It is not a particularly easy read, but a wonderful one it is!  I digress, anyway, when I saw the sign for that exhibit, I had to go in.  They entire collection belongs to a couple who have been collecting all things Don Quioxte for over 40 years.  They have an extensive collection of original art from all over the world.  They have sculptures, figurines, the book itself in many languages-including the ONLY edition of Don Quixote in braille! The entire exhibit is on loan from them.  How fortuitous that I should come through while it was still here. I also got to meet them and speak with them for a few minutes before they left.  I think they were entertaining friends.  They were really sweet and the man said “It makes me happy that you have read the book!”  Those paintings and drawings were all fabulous! I don’t know what my deal is, but I get overwhelmed when I look upon works like these.  It is almost like I am going to cry over the beauty of these works of art, much like I did at Crystal Bridges Museum.  They are that beautiful! I called my Mom right after I left there and told her all about it.  

Since there was nothing going on in the downtown area, I called it an early night. The next day, on the advice of Ruben, from El Paso, I went to Mesilla to see what was going on there. It turns out there was a Farmer’s Market.  Every Wednesday and Friday they have it right in the Historic Plaza of Mesilla. I met a couple from New England, Jainey and Miles, we got to talking and made fast friends.  They were very helpful with some info as to where to go and what to do, including getting a coffee.  I went to the town hall and the people who had the answers weren’t there.  I got back to the Plaza and Jainey pointed out the person I needed to talk to.  I did, it turns out a permit is necessary and only takes a few minutes to fill out some paperwork.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t do it that day, I have to wait till Monday.  I walk around a little more and found out the Christmas Tree lighting was that night, so I was happy about that.  

I got back to Las Cruces and went to that town hall to get a permit to play there.  I did research and I found there was busking allowed at the Farmer’s Market there, which they have on Saturday and Monday, I think.  Apparently, that is the only time busking is allowed.  It is not allowed in the city, they don’t even give permits for it.  Farmer’s Market is a private deal, and the city has nothing to do with that.  That is why it is allowed there. Now, I have the rest of the day off.  I wasn’t to happy about that, as it was a Friday night.  At least it gave me plenty of time to go to the Christmas tree lighting.  I got back there and they were light candles in bags around the entire Plaza and there were already some lit up on the roof of some of the restaurants and shops. It was just starting to get dark and already it was looking fantastic in the Plaza.   People were gathering around, the middle school choir was warming up and it was definitely feeling festive!  The ceremony started and the choir sang some tunes, the Mayor-who I met earlier that day) gave a speech and then they lit the tree. It was brief, but it was awesome, they gave out hot chocolate and cookies and the choir sang some more songs.

I went to the Basilica de San Albino gift shop after to get a warm and they were also giving out coffee/hot chocolate as it was an open house. I met Father Richard who is the Sr Priest there and we had a nice conversation and then he had to go. I met another man named Victor who was very knowledgeable of the history there, especially the Basilica. The bell ringer of the Basilica is a 4th generation bell ringer there.  Apparently, tradition is taken very seriously.  He also gave me the lowdown on some of the structures.  For those who don’t know, Mesilla is where Billy the Kid use to hang/hide out.  The gift store/cafe I went into was the actual court house where he had his trial.  There are some other historical facts there which I will put up with the photos I took.  I am also a big fan of the old west and those stories and legends, so to be there has been quite an experience! (Makes me look even more forward to seeing Tombstone!) 

 

Today, I figured I would go to the Market and and play until they asked me to leave.  As with a lot of Markets, I have found one has to move every half hour or so.I saw Jainey and Miles there so I set up next to them to begin.  This is the biggest Market I have ever seen- it takes up all of Main St. in downtown! There are even markers for the musicians.  As I moved around and made way through the Market, the Block Captains were saying thank you to me for being there.  I thought that was sweet.  They probably say that to everyone, but nonetheless, it is always nice to hear.  Certainly better than hearing “You got to go!” So I played 4 hours! I really enjoyed myself there today.  Only one complaint- there were food trucks and none of them had sausage and peppers 😉  

Having played for 4 hours, I thought I would go see the White Sands.  I looked at the map and though the National Monument was 50 miles out, it looked like there wood be white sands long before then, just over the mountain. I was wrong.  I had no idea what I was in for.  After climbing a mountain to 5700ish feet high, on the way back down, you kind of make a commitment to yourself that you are going the distance.  The Pearl doesn’t really like those climbs, but we made it! It is all down hill after that, until the way back.  I got out there finally, I didn’t go to the Monument, I just wanted to see the white sands.  It was breathtakingly beautiful! Mountains off in the distance with clouds right above them with the light moon made for a few nice pictures.  The desert area itself was just as beautiful, as far as the eye could see, there were dunes and mounds with some plants interspersed throughout.  After taking several pictures, I stood for a few minutes and noticed there was absolutely NO sound! There wasn’t any wind and I stood there in awe of everything around me. There was a sunset walking tour that started at 4pm but there was no way I was driving back in the dark.  When I got back to Mesilla, it was staring to get dark, but the sun was still on the mountains.  It was just like one sees on a postcard- the upper half of the mountains went from red, to magenta to a pink to a really misty blue and the moon was above, getting brighter.  There is so much a person can see and do and it doesn’t cost a thing. The remarkable beauty I have been able to see (not just on this trip either)- in nature, in the arts, and in people continue to remind me of just how  fortunate I am!

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