Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday. Ojo Caliente, New Mexico. What an amazing place hidden in the mountains of New Mexico! Nothing can compare to the beauty of the New Mexican high desert. It’s unlike any other location in the western United States, the vegetation, the architecture, the natural palette of colors feel so historic, natural and spiritual. The light is spectacular, almost sparkling. It reminds me of the light on Monhegan Island, Maine which has a crisp brilliance which is so inspiring. I think it is safe to assume that this is one reason why both areas are such an enormous draw to artists. The air is dry, the water is soft with minerals, the temperature comfortably in the 60s during the day and cooler in the evenings with a light breeze.

Driving up to Ojo on Friday I noticed warning signs and wind socks along the highway warning of gusty winds in the valley. Arroyos, or gullies as the rest of us might refer to them, along the roadway were dry and dusty, but when a rain storm comes they will quickly fill with rushing water which can very dangerous to those caught unaware. This environment looks so benign and barren, but it is a land of extremes. Plants, animals, and people adapt themselves to the environment with thorns, thick outer covers like the Prickly Pear cactus, scales and fangs like the Rattlesnake, boots, hats, and chaps like the Cowboys. All in an effort to weather the temperatures, conserve water, block the sun, and stay cool in the heat. And in complete contrast to this, the people here are warm, friendly, very proud, and eager to share their culture with those from away.

When I first drove into the Ojo Caliente grounds I wondered what had we gotten ourselves into here. There was construction, dirt everywhere, and it looked very quirky. Uh oh…we have 12 women arriving tomorrow. I just kept reminding myself about the rave reviews and high recommendations that this place received and it is New Mexico after all. Once I started to walk around and see the beautiful Historic Hotel, the adobe buildings, and beautiful native plantings I realized it was all going to be ok. Even the construction is a treat to see as it will resemble a traditional adobe building and is now awaiting the application of the stucco coating. Next year this new entrance to the baths will be spectacular.

Twenty-four hours and I already feel like a new woman. All it took was an hour long soak in the lithium, arsenic, soda, and iron baths, an amazing deep-tissue massage by Paul the wonder-masseuse, a wonderful meal from Chef Armando, a pedicure/manicure, and a good nights sleep. Why didn’t I come here sooner?! Suzanne has had an extra day of relaxing and looked pretty radiant and happy when I first saw her. Last summer I had to convince her that New Mexico would be a really cool place for an Adventure. She is completely sold now. She had just returned from a hike up into the rocky hillside when I arrived and she was smiling ear to ear. “This is going to be so great! I just know it!” The sunshine, fresh air, and atmosphere have really gotten to her. Or maybe it was the Soda bath, or Ryan, yet another wonder-masseuse.

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