Columbus, NM to Jovales, Mexico 11/18/07 to 11/24/07

December 4, 2007

After a pancake breakfast, lots of coffee, conversing with many great folks interested in our trip and a delivery from a generous neighbor of breakfast burritos, we were finally off to the border!!!  At the border we got our tourist cards then pedalled south and west to the town of Ascencion.  It was a Sunday evening when we arrived, so the tradition in Mexico is to drive up and down main steet late into the night for anyone that owns a car that even remotely runs.  This town, which is typical of most small Mexico towns has only dirt streets, so you can imagine the dust!!!  We were glad to find a motel and take good hot showers after a long day through mostly uninteresting, hot, dry desert terrain.

The next day was more miles of hot, dry desert and a gradual climb, past COTTON PICKIN’ RANCHES and chili farms to Nuevo Casas Grandes,( means new town of large houses).  We stayed there overnight and the next day went to the original town of Casas Grandes, only 3 miles away. 

No sooner had we stopped at the plaza, when an American man walked over and told us his name was Spencer and he was the self appointed town “Chamber of Commerce”.  He asked us what we needed to know and gave us a tour of the town and his home. Then a brief history lesson of the area and a tour of several of his restored adobe homes, in which he had left  the original antiques, which were incredibly beautiful!  He rents them to groups or people that want to come study the rich culture in this area or study art.  He found us a place to stay and recommended a tour of the Paquime’ Museum and ruins.  This town is surrounded by small 6,000 to 9,000 foot mountain ranges and sits in a valley where the Paquime culture existed in the 1000 to 1400’s.  They built large adobe dwelling, hence the name, which were destroyed in the 1400’s.  The plaza in Casas Grandes is beautiful and the town has paved streets and is clean and very pretty!!  Highly recommended if you are traveling thru here.

From Casas Grandes we ventured southwest to the town of Mata Ortiz, a town famous for the pottery of Juan Quezada.  Thanks to Spencer, who single handedly discovered and promoted him!  Now the town has over 600 potters and artists.  Before Spencer found this potter, the art of this type of pottery making was about to become lost forever!!   Mata Ortiz pottery is characteristically very thin walled 1/8 inch, intricately decorated, very symmetrically and often times decorated in the ancient Paquime’ style.

We stayed at the Adobe Inn, where we met a group of pottery seekers from the U.S.  that were here on a tour/vacation.  They invited us along on their tours over the next 2 days and we had Thanksgiving dinner served by the staff of the Inn.  Dave brought along a “plastic Turkey” and tableclothes for the occasion and 15 of us sat at the table waiting for TURKEY DINNER!!!!?!?!   Thanksgiving dinner was served and consisted of spaghetti noodles with tomato paste on top, stir*fry hamburger and Chili Rellenos (which was the good part)!  We did have pumpkin and apple pie for dessert tho (thanks to Sara and Peter who brought them from the U.S.).  So it did feel sorta like Thanksgiving day, with  a large family to share the day with, a wine toast to safe travels and a live Turkey that gobbled and fluffed his feathers for us earlier in the day!  We would like to thank Dave, Carolyn and everyone with them for the wonderful experience and for letting us tag along to view and learn about Mata Ortiz pottery (we really enjoyed getting to know everyone and hope to meet again someday at another one of your pottery gatherings or maybe a solar eclipse viewing)!

We enjoyed ourselves so much and met such great people, that we had a hard time prying ourselves away from the area.  So, the day after Thanksgiving, bucking a strong head wind that kept blowing clouds of dust at us, we made our way along rough dirt roads up into the mountains and headed south.  When we got into the forested area, we were able to dodge logging trucks, chase wild turkeys, see log cabins (we had been told of log cabins in the mountains of Mexico, but didn’t beleive it until we came across the first one!) and encountered wonderfully friendly local people.  (We’re working on our Spanish, so there’s lots of pantomining, but most people are very patient and helpful!) 

We dropped down into the tiny village of Jovales late in the day, which was about 25 miles into the mountains on little dirt roads, and there was (to our amazement) 2 huge log cabins, sitting right in the middle of this little tiny village, built by the Mexican government for the women of the town to rent out for an income! The cabins were nicer than any of the homes in the village and about 4 times their size.  We felt very privledged to be offered to say in one, being some of the first people to rent them in the 2 years since they were built. (At this point,  there was a huge black cloud coming, temperature was dropping fast and the wind was so strong you could hardly stand up!)

Well, as you probably figured and the way our luck has been on this trip, we had torrential rains all night long, which by the next morning quickly turned to SNOW !!!!!  We decided to stay put, which was a good decision because by the end of the day it was about 4″ deep.    We decided to sit by the wood stove and work on our Spanish for the day.  All day long townspeople kept coming by, making sure we were not “Frio” (cold),  brought us coffee, tortillas, burritos, pudding, cookies, bisquits and lots of firewood!  We communicated with them as much as we could in our very broken Spanish and had a great time!  Thank you to all the generous, warm, friendly people in the tiny village of Jovales, we will never forget your kindness!

Hopefully the weather will clear tomorrow so we can head toward Cuarenta (40) Casas (houses) cliff dwellings south of here!

Adios Amigos!!!!  Ralph ^ Pat


One comment

  1. It was great meeting you in Mata Ortiz! You are having a fantastic adventure!!!!

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