Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Blogland!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 

I'm thankful for...


my family

the friends I've made around the world


that none of our stuff got broken despite 2 moves in 1 year (1 transatlantic, 1 cross country)

opportunities for adventures

Barry's tea

Which blessings are you counting this year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Taos, NM

En route to the Taos Pueblo we stopped in Taos, a little, artsy town about an hour outside of Santa Fe. I'm pretty sure Fionn and I were the youngest people in the whole town, but it was still a fun place to walk around and grab some lunch.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Taos Pueblo of New Mexico

I love when I'm traveling and I visit a place for the first time and it reminds me of somewhere else halfway around the world. It makes the world seem smaller.

A few weeks ago, Fionn and I headed to northern New Mexico to see the Taos Pueblo, a 1000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage village still inhabited by the Pueblo people. The pueblo structures reminded me of what we saw in Ait Benhaddou in Morocco.

I saw pictures of the Taos Pueblo during a trip to Santa Fe a few weeks earlier and decided we had to go back. Taos seemed too pretty to miss and I'm always a sucker for a World Heritage site!

We arrived just as it opened, so apart from a few other people we had the place to ourselves. There isn't much information about the place (and the pamphlet they give you is pretty much worthless), so we decided to take a tour to learn some more.

According to our guide, most of the families in the tribe own a home in the Pueblo but don't live there year round. There are a handful of people who do (mostly young men who do it for a year to promote tribal solidarity) while the rest of the people live in modern homes just outside the boundary of the Pueblo. Did I mention that running water and electricity are forbidden in the Pueblo? 

 Our guide took us around the village and pointed out some of the oldest parts of the Pueblo that were still standing, like the original church.

After that we continued through the village and got to see some of the houses close up. It's amazing that they still make the bricks themselves, like their ancestors did centuries ago.

It was cold and pretty deserted the day we visited, but we braved the chilly temps to explore more after our tour ended and visit with some of the artists who had set up shops. 

Because people live here, there are certain parts of the Pueblo you can't visit, though they're pretty clearly marked. We were also instructed not to take pictures of anyone without their permission. The guide kept repeating that, so I get the feeling a lot of dumb tourists are disrespectful and do dumb things during their visit...

A few times a year they hold religious ceremonies and feast days which the public is invited to witness (provided they follow the rules). We missed an upcoming feast day by two days, which was a bit disappointing!

The surrounding landscape is gorgeous, and the Pueblo itself is interesting to explore, but I wish they had more info so you know what you're looking at. Maybe that's just the history nerd in me, wanting to know all about everything.

If you'd like to visit it yourself, you can find more info at the Taos Pueblo website.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goodbye, Brittany Ruth

Today I was heartbroken to learn that my dear blog friend, Brittany Ruth of the Rococo Roamer passed away last Friday.

Brittany and I lived in the same town in Germany and met through our blogs. We didn't even realize we were at the same base until one day she sent me a message saying she'd recognized my husband at the post office. I always enjoyed trading travel ideas with her and making jokes about the tiny town we lived in. I loved her blog, her beautiful pictures, and her love for travel and making the most of life. She inspired me, as I'm sure she did many of you.

Brittany Ruth, you were a beautiful and vibrant member of our little blogging community. We will miss you terribly. My heart is broken at the news of your passing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day of the Dead in Mesilla, NM

Halloween came and went, but this year we were excited to experience our first Dia de Los Muertos! Traditionally celebrated November 2nd, it's a big deal in Mexican culture. Since we're only 10 minutes from Mexico, it is also a big deal here too!

As an outsider, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) seemed pretty creepy to me. Skeletons and skulls decorated everything, little kids ran around with painted skull faces, and even the traditional food associated with the holiday had creepy names like "Bread of the Dead".

Pan de Muerto and Mexican hot chocolate

The week leading up to the holiday, all the grocery store bakeries were selling this "Bread of the Dead", a sweet, eggy bread covered in colored sugar or sesame seeds. According to my Mexican friend, it's usually eaten at the gravesite of your loved ones and the shapes on top of the bread represent bones and tears.

After hearing that, we set our table with some more appropriate decor...

(Verdict: Very tasty)

Despite its spooky undertones, many people who celebrate the holiday say that it is a joyous event, meant to celebrate and remember the lives of loved ones who have died. Dancing, singing, sharing memories and the favorite meals and drinks of the deceased create a festive atmosphere. As one woman I spoke to described it, "Everyone will die, so we choose to laugh at death. We make light of it by dressing up and decorating with skulls and setting out marigolds (the flowers of the dead). We don't want to cry about those that are gone, we want to remember the good things about them."

Traditionally, families visit the graves of their loved ones and picnic there. Since that wasn't possible for us, we decided to check out the Dia de Los Muertos festival in Mesilla, New Mexico.

All around the plaza you could find altars decorated with pictures, sugar skulls, and items the person loved during life. While some of the altars were personal, others were silly (like an altar to a pet piranha) or sobering (an altar to soldiers killed in Iraq or to the thousands of women murdered in Juarez).

There were also lots of people all decorated for the big day!

A very nice lady selling Pan de Muerto

Of course, there were also lots of vendors selling Day of the Dead trinkets. Some of them were really beautiful, but I think so many skulls in my house would creep me out (I'm a scaredy cat, y'all).

The town of Mesilla, NM was really cute and such a fun place to explore. Besides the festival they had a lot of shops and restaurants to check out, along with the chance to brush up on some Wild West history (Billy the Kidd was tried here!)

My favorite part was seeing the Folklorico dancers. I loved their costumes and the playfulness of the dancing (especially how they interacted with the audience)

While I don't think I'll be swapping my pumpkins for sugar skulls in the future, it was still really fun to experience Dia de Los Muertos for the first time. 

All this talk of the Wild West has given me dreams of being a gunslinging cowgirl. First stop, real boots and lose the skirt. That should do it.

Happy belated Halloween, friends! :)