In Pilgrim Land

Part Seven: Taos Pueblo to Arroyo Hondo

After leaving the Taos land, we walked all morning through beautiful scenery. It was partly cloudy and the morning was very good for walking.

Midway through the day we arrived at Arroyo Seco. Arroyo Seco is a little touristy mountain town full of restaurants and art galleries. It is a charming town. We rested our tired legs for a while in the shade of some big willows beside the Taos Cow which is a little ice cream stand. A local man was sitting at another table strumming on a guitar. After we were rested, we walked around the town and went to look at the church. It was very peaceful place surrounded by trees with long uncut grass and rusting iron railings. In the churchyard, I noticed and photographed an old metal bench with agricultural scenes. There was a loaded plum tree by the church and we passed others in the course of the afternoon. During the entire first half of our trip, we passed dozens of fruit trees loaded with fruit. I saw plums, pears apples, and peaches growing alongside the road and in abandoned orchards. We picked and ate fruit as we walked and I often put some in my bag to eat at the next stop.

All afternoon we walked through beautiful rural landscapes along dusty farm roads and along the verges of small roads. In the late afternoon, we paused to rest against the wall of Our Lady of Sorrows Mission Chapel.
Hondo means deep in Spanish so I was not surprised in the afternoon when we came to a very steep downhill grade and saw the town of Arroyo Hondo at the bottom.

All the fans of the book And now Miguel….. will recognize the name of this town. When Miguel skips school to go hunt for lost sheep, his father asks him where he was all day. Miguel tells his father that he went to Arroyo Hondo. His father wants to know “What’s in Arroyo Hondo?”
“I knew my father didn’t want to know what’s in Arroyo Hondo. He knew as well as I. Just a grocery store and some houses. If I told him that then everything would get all mixed up the way it did.”

I found out what’s in Arroyo Hondo. The answer is not much. There is a store but it is closed and for sale (who would buy it?) there are some houses and a bar….. and a creepy derelict community center where we spent the night. On the way into town, we stopped to ask our way to the community center. The lady we asked gave us a funny look and said “It isn’t a working community center you know.” When we got there we found out that it really was not a working community center. It has broken windows, a fire alarm system that beeps all the time, hot water in only one restroom, and only one room had heat. There was a collection of battered furniture and exercise equipment. While we were there the power to the area went out so we found ourselves in a dark, creepy, derelict community center. We fled to the dark and creepy but working bar.

In the bar (which is also a restaurant,) we found that there would be no dinner until the power came back on. The people in the bar did not seem to be at all surprised about the lack of power and I got the idea that it was a normal occurrence. Some of the people were playing pool with the help of headlamps and flashlights. The only other light was a swath of light from the doorway. It felt very much like a Wild West stage set. After being there for an hour, the lights came on to prolonged cheers from everyone present. We got a surprisingly good dinner and then headed back to our “friendly” lodgings.
The only tables available for me to sleep on (I was not going to sleep on the floor in a place like that!) were two round tables. Fortunately one was lower than the other so I was able to push the two of them together and there was no gap. It was hard to sleep lying across the bump with the fire alarm system beeping at me but I finally went to sleep. (Some of our normally peace-loving pilgrims began to suggest shotguns, ladders, and axes as a cure for the incessant beeping!)

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