I have taken a lot of photos in the last couple of days. These are the best, I think, of the ones I took. Some are blurry, sorry about that. These are also photos of the White Sands Desert and a couple from the Farmer’s Market in Las Cruces. There are several of the moon rising over the mountains while the sun is setting. I got a couple of tamales and had a nice solo picnic while I watched that. It was amazing! Also a few I took of some things in the Pearl my niece and nephews have given me, I want to let them know I am using the ornaments they gave me! Anyway, I am going to be here for a few more days. I hope to have some more cool photos to share!

Albert Askenazi

Don Quixote 2

Don Quixote 4

Don Quixo

Don Quixote 1

Don Quixote in the Study

Don Quixote on Rust

Don Quixote Sculpture

Multiple Don Quixote

Sad Don Quixote

Billy the Kid Marker

Billy the Kid Trial

Arch with a cactus

Entance to shops and galleries

Wine Store

El Patio

El Patio Historic Marker

El Patio at night

Luminaires on the roof

Mesilla Door

La Posta Marker

La Posta

The Bsilica of San Albino

Lighting the Luminaires

Luminaires and the Basilica of San Albino

Light the tree and the Basilica

Me and the tree

On the way to White Sands

Desert Moon 1

Desert Moon 2

A couple having some fun

Desert Moon 3

Desert Sun 1

Desert Sun 2

Sun and Plant 2

White Sands 5

White Sands 3

Sun and plant

White Sands 1

White Sands 4

White Sands 2

Jainey and Miles

Santa arrives on a Harley!

La Mesilla Plaza

La Mesilla Plaza 2

Las Cruces Farmer's Market

Las Cruces Farmer's Market 2

Outdoor Dining

Plaza 2


Moon Rise 1

Moon Rise 2

Moon Rise 3

Moon Rise 4

Moon Rise 5

Sunset 1

Sunset 2

Sunset 3

Sunset 4

Sunset 6

Sunset 7

Sunset 8

Sunset 9

Sunset 10

Sunset 11

Sunset 12

Sunset 13

Sunset 14

Sunset 15

Hezzy 2

Hezzy 1


Thank you for taking a look!

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!

On Tuesday, I woke up and decided it was definitely going to be the day I go to Rosa’s Cantina.  It may sound silly to some, but I have always loved the tune “El Paso” by Marty Robbins and I wanted to see the place.  It is a little place a few miles away from the downtown area.  Apparently, that used to be the main road, before they put in the interstate. Back in the day, there wasn’t much on that road- as I understood it.  I walked in and it was like stepping back in time, to a degree. I was like a kid in the candy store! I went in just to ask questions and take pictures, but I was seduced by the charm of the place. I sat at the bar and Carol was the bartender.She gave mne a menu and before I even ordered, I had chips and salsa verde and a bowl of hot soup I can’t pronounce. I ordered the beef taco plate with re-fried beans and rice and it was freakin’ awesome! As I was having my soup, I saw the owner, Oscar, and I asked him some questions.  Though he is not the original owner, he knows the history of the place.  There is a wonderful framed tribute to the original owner and Mart Robbins on the wall, as well as some sign and framed albums.  Oscar told me the bar used to be up front and the men and women had to be on opposite sides of the room.  Weird, but true, back in the day they had to be separated.  They had live music then, just as they do now. After I finished my soup, I took a bunch of pictures- I am such a tourist sometimes. 

I asked Carol what the turnover was for the kitchen.  She said “There isn’t any, Martha has been here for 35 years”  She went on to tell me she makes everything fresh everyday.  There are no microwaves back there and if she runs out- she runs out. Apparently, that doesn’t happen very often though.  She has an assistant working with her named, Claudia.  The kitchen is very small but they goet the job done. Martha definitely has her act down to a science.  I peeked in for a couple of minutes to watch what they do.  I am amazed at what they do back there in that small space- it is poetry in motion.  Carol has been there since Oscar took ownership back in 2007.  I get the impression, the turnover for any position is nil.  I kept asking her questions as I had my lunch and she answered all of them. She even took my picture under the sign at the bar!  My lunch, including a Tecate came to $8.   There was another server there, I did not get her name but she was also friendly and asked me how I was doing and if I got enough pictures.  I can’t help but wonder if her name was Galina 😉 that would have been too much!  Seeing all of that in person and then listening to the tune, it is almost like being there as a witness to everything that happened. I left there happy and satisfied for many reasons.

After lunch, I went downtown to San Antonio and Stanton and I really just love the acoustics there! I also like the JCPenny across the street that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 60s.  I was feeling a little under the weather, I noticed that while I was doing laundry earlier.  I was hoping it was just the sniffles from the cold weather.  I still played a full shift though. It wasn’t as busy as it was the previous two days but, as usual, the people here are very nice.  As I was ready to wrap it up anyway, a man told me to go down to El Paso and Paisano, there are a lot of people there he said.  It was also getting a little late.  I had been looking for that area because there are a lot of people walking in that area.  There are a lot of sidewalk sales and such going on there.  I had seen it before, but couldn’t find my way back there.  I did find a problem though, a lot of music, being played on loud speakers outside. I thought to myself, I will get here earlier tomorrow.  There was a pawn shop selling on of  Pancho Villa’s fingers (at least that is what it looked like with what it said) for the low price of $9,995. 

Today (Wednesday), I found my way to that same area.  There was still music being played on loud speakers, but I found a spot in front of a closed business.  Only to get asked to move before I finished my first tune.  Apparently, the business next door, promotes the music of a local musician and he didn’t like me being there.  He asked me nicely to move it down a block, so I did. I played about two songs my nose was running like a faucet.  It was just the cold weather sniffles, ugh! I knew that when I woke up, but thought I would give it a shot anyway.  I lasted about 30 minutes out there.  Not only that, I didn’t have those awesome acoustics.  I think I may have got spoiled at the other location.  Tonight is my last night in El Paso, I am head to Las Cruces and should be there Thursday afternoon.  I have enjoyed my time in El Paso.  The people here, as I have mentioned, are friendly- from the homeless man who wanted to give me a swig of his vodka, to keep me warm when he had nothing else to offer when he heard me playing. To the people at the Artist’s Market (Rebecca, Ruben, Bonnie and Christine) and all the others who were just amazing in a lot of ways. To a long conversation over the phone making a new friend here, to Mike at the Christmas parade, to a man playing his saxophone with me, and so many other people who made it very nice to be here- Thank you!  Also, it is actually pretty easy to find your way around pretty easily.  The scenery  of the desert and mountains are also something. I am so looking forward to seeing more of that as I head further west!  




I woke up Sunday morning to the Pearl being shook. I thought it was the wind, it has done that before. About 5 minutes after it woke me up, I got up and went to go inside for a coffee and saw my right tail light was smashed. Apparently, a car had back into me in the parking lot and took off. Obviously, I was not happy about this. There were a few people that saw it, however could not give me enough info do to anything with it. I asked to see the surveillance videos, of course only the police can look at them during an investigation. I ended up getting some red and white tape to put over it for now and I will get it replaced soon. To fill out a report, I have to send it to Austin and who knows if anything will come of it, not sure it is worth the time or effort over a tail light.

After taking almost the entire first half of the day to take care of that, I finally got out to play. I liked the spot where I was the night before, on the corner of San Antonio and Stanton, for two reasons. The first is the acoustics there, and the second is there is traffic there. It was a nice day, and I was plating well! There was a man who passed by who was texting his daughter in Philly. She was on her way to see Peter White play, as he does every year, but there was a 52 car pile up and traffic was delayed for hours, she missed the show. He asked me if I would play a couple of Christmas tune for her via speaker phone. Of course I did, and she told him to tell me “It made her day!” That made me very happy, as well as her father (his name escapes me- Bill, I think. I am sorry) He took a picture of us to send to her as well. We had a short conversation after and then he gave me nice tip and left. I was grateful, not only for the tip but also the interaction, he was a wonderful man! Later on a man at the stop light ended up turning around and coming back to talk to talk to me. He also plays the saxophone. After a couple of minutes he wanted my opinion of something he was working on, so I said yes. I had no idea he had his horn with him. He put it together and after a warm up, played his tune. For a second, it reminded me of “Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pop” but it was clearly his own thing and it sound good. Over the next 20 minutes or so, we went back and forth with conversation and some playing. He played me another one he is also working on, it too sounded good. It was a little bluesier. He also played a flute for a few minutes. While he was there we got a few tips and I wanted to split them, he said “No, please. Thank you for letting play with you!” Then he proceed to go to his car and get the biggest handful of change I have ever seen anyone put in my tip box and said, “Sorry, I don’t have any bills, but if you will accept this….” I chuckled and said “Thank you!” Again, very grateful for him and the interaction.

On Monday, I got out after sleeping pretty late. I didn’t sleep much the night before. I went back to that same location, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, right? Almost from the second I set up, it was one of the best shifts I have had since I started my trip. There were a few short interactions I was able to have. An older gent came right up to me and told me “In the name of St. Jude, I give you this” except he said it in Spanish. I said “Gracias” He said it again in English to make sure I understood, and I said “Thank you, so much” and shook his hand. He smiled, I smiled and he went on his way. I love that he did that in the name of St. Jude! Not only is he the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, he is much more. I feel I may have received another blessing! A young woman, named Estefania, came up and asked me where I got my training. I told her about PMAC and she asked if I gave lessons. I told her if she had a saxophone, I would be delighted to give a lesson or two while I was in El Paso. Turns out she plays piano and lives in Mexico, must have been here for the day. But I thought it was cool she asked if I gave lessons. I have only ever had one student, Ryan, and has since become a a dear friend. It is something I enjoy doing, maybe I will do again if I am in a place long enough, or maybe when I get back home.

I am going to be here at least one more day. When Ruben told me this city is friendly, he wasn’t kidding. Even when I am not playing, I find the people I talk to, to be very friendly. It is also very cool that I have made a couple of friends here. I still haven’t been to Rosa’s Cantina- I guess that will definitely be tomorrow!

I arrived in El Paso on Friday, late in the afternoon. Traffic was hectic along I-10 going into the city. It was a beautiful day along the second half of the drive. I came out of that nasty cold weather into a cloudless sky and warmer temps. I was very happy to finally be in El Paso. A few days earlier I had sent an email to the Artist’s Market Director about being able to play there on Saturday. I received a response on Friday afternoon and told I would be there at 9am. At 11:00 the scheduled buskers were going to be there. I had the first 2 hours.

Again with the cold, windy awful weather. I chose the route I chose because it is in the southwest. The people at the Artist’s Market even told me, it is never like this until maybe late January. I mean everyone was bundled up. For the first hour or so, there weren’t many people there- probably because of the weather- some of the vendors came over to see me and say hi, everyone made me feel quite welcome. Shortly after I started; a vendor, Christine, came over and gave me a button. She is an artist whose boyfriend also plays the saxophone. He inspires some of art work. The button was a print of one of her works of him. It was very sweet! Another vendor gave me a coffee when I could no longer feel my fingers. In between songs I warmed up my hands as best as I could. I was wearing finger less gloves, so my fingers felt like glass. I was invited to play over by a table where it wasn’t quite so windy. It was Christine’s table, her friend Bonnie and Bonnie’s Dad, Ruben were there. I want to tell you I lasted the two hours. I couldn’t do it, after just over an hour and a half, I couldn’t feel the keys or my fingers moving. I know it sounds like I am whining, but it was 26 degrees. I wanted to hang out there for a little while though. I put my gear away, put on another layer and got my good gloves on.

I wound up hanging out at Christine and Bonnie Ruben’s table. I wanted to hear the other buskers. They were pretty good, it was a band of four, an Irish band with a Spanish name, The San Patricios- The St. Patrick’s- I liked it! While I was hanging out checking out their table, and talking to Christine about her work, she actually gave me a signed print of “That Sax Guy” That is the name of the series which he inspired in her. I wanted some coffee and Bonnie took to where it was and we skipped a little bit, like the Wizard of Oz, to try to warm up. It didn’t last long, I don’t even think I was skipping right, anyway…I try not to be negative, but my coffee was lukewarm, at best. They sell hot fresh corn and they dress it up with cheese(I don’t know what kind), spices, hot sauce and butter. Bonnie got that, apparently it was delicious. I was talking with Ruben for a bit. He is a healer and he gave me some tea to try. Before I even got my first coffee there, he said to me, “You drink too much coffee.” Told me I lack a lot of minerals the tea will help to replenish them. I looked around at the other stuff. It was a pretty cool market. They have stuff from jewelry, to paintings, handmade wooden flutes and even some other hand made goods such as jams and stuff like that. They broke down there display early because it really was very hard to stay warm. I was invited to lunch, with Christine and Bonnie. We went to an Indian place Bonnie used to work at and had the buffet, it was quite good.

After lunch, they went off to paint a mural with the Art Club for a Women’s Center. The sun had come out and it warmed up a little. I went back downtown, to San Antonio Ave and got to work. I played about 90 minutes again. Apparently, the spot I was at was the beginning of the Christmas Parade Festival of Lights. I put my gear away again and wanted to warm up some, before I went back to watch the Parade. I got myself another coffee and for the second time that day, it was lukewarm. I got back before the Parade started and met a man named Mike. He was there with his family, his son was in the parade. I hung out with him and talked during the Parade. He was a very nice man. He asked, so I told him what I doing. He was the second person that day to tell me all of the awesomeness about El Paso. The Parade was well over an hour long, it was great! There were many floats that played “Feliz Navidad” I said “That is a popular song here, I have always liked this tune!” Mike said, “You can’t have Christmas in El Paso without Jose Feliciano!” After the Parade, there were fireworks. I couldn’t stay outside for those. I went to the coffee shop to warm up again. By the time I got to the Pearl, I could hear them, but could not see them. I did some work and I called it a night.
I will say everyone I have met here is super cool and very welcoming. It makes for a nicer stay in the city I am in.

P.S. I have to find my way to Rosa’a Cantina before I leave this town!

Since I was not allowed to busk in San Antonio, I decided to leave shortly after I heard that.  I left in the afternoon around 3pm.  I figured I would drive 3 hours west on I-10, to a town called Sonora. Along the way, the views were really beautiful. Mountains and plateaus way off in the distance made for a nice drive. They saying “everything is bigger in Texas” apparently goes for roadkill too. I will not tell you what I saw, but there were some big animals along the road that weren’t raccoons or squirrels. I pulled into the “downtown” that my gps directed me to and found a gas station that was also a food mart and had a sub shop in it. I inquired about the downtown area, and there isn’t one.  I got back on the interstate and found my way to Ft. Stockton. It was another 2+ hours, so by the the time I got there it was getting late. I had the sub I bought in Sonora and called it a night.  The next day was cold and overcast.  It didn’t really matter, there wasn’t much in Ft. Stockton either.  After doing some work, I decided to hit the road and try to make it almost 2 hours down the I-10.  Big mistake, I should have stayed put.

It hadn’t rained yet up to this point.  I got on the highway, and it began. It was very light at first. It didn’t matter, I have no heat in the van so it pretty much froze on there rather quickly.  It wasn’t too bad, for almost the first hour. After that, it became a nightmare.  Every 5 or so miles, I had to pull over and scrape the ice off of windshield with a travel mug and towel.  I admit, I was ill prepared for an ice storm in SW TEXAS!!  I didn’t want to be driving after night fall, and that was coming quick. I was still a ways away from anywhere.  I will also admit, I got a little scared. After it got dark I was concerned with black ice.  Though the speed limit is 80 on that road I was going 45, 50 tops.  It only got worse.  Right before night fall, there was a dense fog.  I could not believe this drive! It was so dense, I couldn’t see the trucker’s brake lights 2 seconds after they passed me, it was like they disappeared. I even missed the exit I wanted. As it happens, there was nothing at that exit either. I had 26 miles to go to the next exit. Finally, I saw some lights a ahead, as the fog was clearing a little.  I told myself, no matter what, I am stopping here. I did, it ended up taking me over 3 hours to go just under 2. I didn’t care at this point, I just wanted to get inside. It was a gas station, truck stop. And oh, the characters that came in there in the course of the night.  

After a few hours, I discovered a sitting area, and I saw a couple of dudes sitting in there.  I grab my book and I was going to write and possibly catch up on my journal.  I got as far as the date. I got talking to these two gentlemen.  Ken, a trucker out of Louisiana and Willie, a man living off the grid about 5 miles from there. Willie was telling me of his solar panels and that got me asking questions.  Ken got involved in the conversation and shortly he was telling his life story. Willie and I didn’t get to say much over the next couple of hours, but Ken had a lot of stories and he was good at telling them, I enjoyed listening to him talk. It turns out, he and Willie have both lived in Houston, so they were able to relate on a few things.  It was about 2am and I went out to start the van for about 10 minutes and the conversation ended. Ken had to get some sleep and WIllie was going home.  Before he left, Willie invited me to stop by his place and he’d make me a green tea.  We exchanged numbers and he sent me a text with directions.  My van was encased in ice, so I put off going in for as long as possible.  About an hour went by and I had to go to bed, it was after 3am.  I hunkered down and bundled up and got under every blanket I have. I was warm enough, thankfully!  That day was an adventure in itself.

When I woke up, it was still overcast and really cold. Despite that,  I was curious about Willie’s place, plus a green tea sounded good.  I called him after I got off the exit and he directed me to his house.  True to his word he made me some gunpowder green tea. He has a tiny little cabin out there and his brother help him to build a shop, so he can eventually build himself a bigger cabin to live in.  He is in constant search of alternative energies and has even made a couple of his own designs to harness some of these.  He is constantly working on these things. I spent almost an hour there and then I got back on the road. We wished each other well and I thank him for the tea.

I got back on the highway and there were a few drops of rain and I thought- I can’t do this again.  Fortunately, that is all it was.About 20 minutes later, the sun came out and it warmed up.  I went the rest of the way to El Paso from there and it turned into a beautiful drive through the desert.  Everyone who drives through Texas, talks about how big it is and how long it takes to get through it.  You know, I find once you accept how vast and big Texas is- sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  It is really beautiful!  




%d bloggers like this: