10.16.2011,1:15 PM
Alburquerque and Acoma Pueblo
Several weeks before we left, I had contacted Growing Awareness Urban Farms in Albuquerque to arrange for a visit. So the next day, we started our way north to the big city to find the place. Scattered across a street is a group of buildings that comprise  the East Christian Ministries and the GAU Farm. They acquired the rundown and almost condemned buildings to restore and turn into a community center for people in the area.

Morgan, the manager for the farm, took us on a tour and I videoed an interview. Behind one building is a garden for produce and herbs, a large composting area (both bin and worm (vermi-)composting), several greenhouses, a chicken coop and run, and a bee apiary.

Particularly off interest for me was the ollas; unglazed clay jugs that are used for irrigation. The jugs are buried in the garden soil with only the top of the neck exposed, filled with water, and capped with a stone. Water then diffuses out of the clay jug and into the surrounding soil, thus irrigating the plant roots. This technique has been used by many indigenous peoples in the southwest and Mexico for eons.

At the Urban Farm, they make ollas and sell them, teaching people how to use them. We bought four of their rejects (slight blemishes) that we will try out in our own desert garden. When I have time, I will coordinate the video clips into a final video of the Farm.

Since we had time and we were already in Albuquerque, I suggested we visit the Acoma pueblo, which I had read about. So off we went, west on I-40, gratefully fleeing the city (which is like any other city). Shortly after we turned south, we were on Acoma reservation land. And every vehicle that passed us -from truck, car and even buses- waved to us. It was refreshing to see how friendly people are there.

We arrived at the visitor center and museum in time to take the last tour of the day to the Acoma ancient pueblo; the Sky City. The pueblo is about 600 or more years old and is built on top of a mesa, 375 feet above the floor of the desert. One road, which was built in the late 1950's, winds up to the top. Before that, a foot stair way carved into the side of the mesa was the only access to and from the pueblo. All their water and food had to be carried up.

At the top, I was instantly drawn in and captivated. I wanted to stay. I almost asked our guide, Little Sun, if they would adopt me.

The views from the mesa are incredible. Here on top, there is no water, no electricity, no food....nothing but the earthen ground and walls with the sky as your blanket. And here is history that extends almost a thousand years ago right at your feet. It surrounds you.

To the north of the mesa is the Acoma people's first home in this area: Enchanted Mesa. Their oral history relates that they came from the Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde locations and chose that mesa, the Enchanted Mesa, as their home.

There they lived for 500+ years. But as their population grew, it became crowded. During a torrential storm, the foot stairs carved into the mesa side washed out. It was a sign for them to move. And so they left that mesa and populated the mesa where they are now. It was this very mesa and pueblo that Coronado and his men saw and marveled at.

We had an off-road adventure on the way to the main highway. I wanted to visit the Enchanted Mesa, so we turned off onto a dirt road. Which turned into a sandy track. Wet. Sand. But it was amazing to see the difference in scale looking at the pueblo on top of the mesa in the distance compared to when we stood atop and looked north to where we were on the road above.

On the way back to camp, we took a different route, Route 6. Which we discovered was part of the original Route 66. This is a great road as it traverses the high semi-arid grasslands with mountains and lots of sky.

It was dark when we got back. And slept we did.


posted by Macrobe
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