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#168: Faces of Chimayo, New Mexico

August 31, 2011

Michael lives in Chimayo, New Mexico.  He was born there, as was his daddy before him.  In the 1970’s he moved to another New Mexico town, and another after that, but after his mother passed he returned to Chimayo to start his own family.  Clover, at center below, “the cute one” as Michael calls her, is the matriarch of the brood.  Her eight-week old grandpuppies will be sold for $100 each.  Michael thinks he’ll call the one with white feet White Socks.  As we said goodbye he took my hand and wished me “a beautiful day.”

Down the road I met Carlitos, from whom I bought some dried pepper and spices.  He had me put a pistachio shell-sized helping of each different spice in my mouth along with a “Mexican Clam” (the pistachio nut itself) while thoughtfully heeding my warning that anything too spicy would send me running.  He said that his photo hadn’t been taken since 1989 and so preferred to keep it that way.  His son Adam, however, was much more inclined to pose.

Carlitos noticed my gray Chimayo purse  and beckoned his sister over, a former weaver and current silver worker.  She received her Masters in social work but chose to live in Chimayo and practice her traditional craft.  She told me that their grandmother was a Chimayan weaver in the 1940’s, at the same time that my purse was woven in their town.  Their shop and outdoor spice market is located across the the dusty way from the Potrero Trading Post and El Santuario, the town’s beloved shrine built in 1856.  There you can scoop from a pile of Holy Dirt to use as you please.  I didn’t scoop, but my friend brought some back for her grandmother.

There’s something about a one-horse town.  You can spend a long time searching for its stories.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 12:07 am

    Your pictures of Chimayo are lovely! I’ve been several times (posted a few photos on my blog: but it wasn’t until last October that I finally purchased some of the famed Chimayo chile powder– I bought a bag of red and one of green and use them both more than I would have imagined! I hope you will post more stories and photos from your trip!

  2. Christine permalink
    September 1, 2011 6:26 pm

    This has to be one of the most beautiful places. I am so glad that you showed it to me. What does your purse look like? My husband and I were thinking of visiting and (possible) moving there someday.

  3. November 15, 2011 5:53 pm

    I’m yet to travel these parts but when I come over next from Oz i’ll be sure to take a trip down there!

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