Columbus Wuz Here Columbus Lighthouse, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

There is controversy whether this is a lighthouse and whether Columbus’s bones are really inside the not so small ornate iron box in the center of this ornate display.

Columbus found this island on the first of his four voyages to the New World. Interestingly enough, he never set foot on America’s soil but set up his family  comfortably in the Dominican Republic to give them a good life and claim to  lands he discovered for the King of Spain.

He was a visionary, as well as a businessman, and having audience with Kings and Queens is no easy task because, being important people, their time is worth more than ours. Mounting an expedition that was going to the ends of the world was a dangerous  enterprise.

This memorial is not really a lighthouse, and,not attractive. I’m guessing the great man would have rather remained in the Cathedral in Parque Colon, but, he had no choice. His bones couldn’t stand up and speak up for him.

The big things I learn today are that, when walking, things you see are much further to get to than they look. Whenever you get lost, call a taxi and pay a few bucks to get where you want to go so you don’t  spend your entire trip walking in  circles.

It seems odd to celebrate a man who discovered America, and odd I’m standing here taking a photo of what we are told is the explorer’s final resting place?

He and his beloved Santa Maria , right now, are most likely somewhere north, northeast of Mars navigating under celestial lights on dark dark seas with only a compass and telescope. He is doing in the next world what he did in this one.

His bones might be here, but he doesn’t need them for his new discoveries.

 

 

Getting Around Tour Bus, Santo Domingo

If I were on this tour bus I wouldn’t have been able to take this picture.

There are a myriad of ways to transport yourself on a vacation. This tour bus, as it goes by, shows faces inside glancing at me as the tour driver describes thIs area with a microphone in his hand. Inside a tour bus you can’t stop a moment, poke around, talk to someone, have a bite to eat, try to understand a sign in a foreign language. You are moving quickly and if you are thinking about your security system back home you miss a Presidential Palace, or the church where Columbus attended his son’s wedding, or a great cafe where locals eat.

You can’t know a place by listening to a driver tell you what you are passing after you have already passed it.

I’ll know this place like a tour guide before I leave and take some of it home in postcards and memories.

The tour bus passes me and I can hear the driver talking to the whole block on his microphone, his facts sounding garbled and out of sync.

His words sound, to me, like the clouds in your coffee.

They wouldn’t be words I would use to tell about this place.

 

Morning Walk Albuquerque's Embudo Canyon

Indian School is an east- west Albuquerque boulevard that ends at the Embudo Canyon Open Space at the far east side of the city..

The parking lot, at the roads end, is the beginning of a city Open Space area that moves into the Cibola National Forest Wilderness. The nature walks and trails, at the cities edge, open at seven each morning and close at seven each evening. If you are bold, you can hike back as far as you want into the wilderness and camp out under the stars.

This morning there are vehicles in the parking lot early, which is unusual. Along our hike, there are numerous Apache Plumes, cactus, mesquite, and juniper trees, a huge city deep water well enclosed by a chain link fence and government signs stating statutes that warn bad things happen to those who trespass.Wildlife has hidden itself but you see signs they are close by if you are observant.We can see Mount Taylor, tallest mountain in New Mexico, sixty miles away. A few hot air balloons are aloft..

There are other hikers out this morning, and, as we pass each other on the trail, we all say our hellos cheerfully. Nature lovers are glad to be out even if seeing humans is not what we come out for.

By the time we return to the parking lot,more parking spaces have opened up and the lot is almost empty.

You would think there would be more people hiking with a city of almost a million right below us.

Nature isn’t part of everyone’s vocabulary,but am pleased it is in my dictionary.

It is a bit funny that we put Open and Close times on the Wilderness.

Wilderness doesn’t run by our clock.

 

Mineshaft Tavern Local Watering Hole

State Road 14 takes you to Madrid,New Mexico, and to Cerrillos,New Mexico, if you stay on it.

All the way to Madrid we are passed by overweight motorcycle riders wearing pony tails and Bandito Leather jackets. Madrid is an old New Mexico mining town that busted a long time ago and left old mining shacks that were snapped up by 1960’s alternative lifestyle people. Today, most of these shacks have become watering holes, eateries, jewelry shops, art galleries, antique stores, botiques for unusual clothes, cramped homes for  bearded and balding hippies who have outlived their generation.

At eleven thirty in the morning, the Mineshaft Tavern, a local institution, is still not open and bikers stand outside with their women and take pictures on their cell phones to post on Facebook. After a long ride to Madrid, from Albuquerque, it makes a nice afternoon to have a few beers and tell biker stories before going home. On Monday, most of them will be wearing suits at a desk in City Hall or designing weapons to make a more peaceful world at Sandia Labs.

The mural painted on a wall outside the tavern sums the town up.

There are two dogs for each resident, horses and cowboys are allowed, and no one has to dress up or put on airs.

If I were a dog, I would want to live here too where there are no leashes, plenty of shade, free snacks from tourists and not a lot of traffic.

 

 

 

 

Cerrillos, New Mexico Road Trip

New Mexico, before statehood, was an American territory wrested from Mexico in one of America’s many wars.

In 1912, we became a state and were lucky to do so.There were plenty of critics, then, as now, who suggested  New Mexico has more in common with Mexico than the United States, has a backward uneducated population, is not nearly close to being civilized. In our early days, outlaws like Billy the Kid shot up people, miners lived a tough and tumble life camped out in nearby ravines looking for gold, and cattle ranchers hung cattle thieves from cottonwood trees.

Cerrillos, at one time, was a bustling community and was considered for the location of our state capitol. When the mineral reserves played out though, the town shrunk, and, today, this back roads thin spot on a thin road is just a few hundred souls living a quiet life not far from movie star Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the biggest city in the state.

The Cerrillos Station is a new, remodeled version of an old General Store that our family visited back in the fifties.The coffee is fresh, the owners cordial, the merchandise arty and fashionable. The repertory theater that produced melodramas in the 50’s for families is no where to be seen but this little town is still typical small town New Mexico with adobe walls, pinon rail fences, garden plots in back yards, fifth wheels pulled up to utility poles, dogs running around unattended and without leashes. 

Friends Robert and Eric, who came along for the ride, enjoy their coffee, and we take a quick break before heading back down the road to Madrid, another New Mexico mining town turned into a hippie hideaway and retreat for non-conformist souls who aren’t much different than the neighbors they live next too.

The old pictures of Cerrillos, in black and white on the shop’s walls, make me wonder how the Hell this territory  ever made it to being an American state?

I guess those back room politicians just didn’t want to see a gap on the U.S. map between Arizona and Texas? 

Where you have gaps you always have issues.

 

” The Fountain ” – Video Fountain Hills, Arizona

 

This morning, the Fountain goes off at nine sharp, when all the local businesses open. Ducks cruise past it like little feathered boats as a steady geyser of water is propelled several hundred feet into the air. 

I film the eruption from several directions and barely get it all into my camera viewfinder..

It is, as Chadd described it, ” very cool. ”

I’m not sure I would come to Fountain Hills just to see this fountain, but, being here, it is icing on the Fountain Hills cake.

I splash water on the my face to make sure this isn’t a mirage.

In the desert, you see lots of things that don’t seem to fit.

 

 

 

 

Morning Stroll in Arizona Lake in the center of Fountain Hills, Arizona

The landscape in this part of Arizona has few trees and even less water.

It has lots of jagged rocky hills that rise from the desert floor like turtle heads coming up out of their shell. The tallest vegetation, for miles, is the saquaro cactus that we first began seeing as our Arizona state highway took us from higher cooler elevations down to the torrid desert floor.

The saquaro, this morning in Fountain Hills Park,still look like banditos and some only have one arm and one six shooter pointed at me on my stroll.

 Fountain Hills is a sleepy bedroom community not far from Phoenix, a place to escape the rigorous winters of the East coast and Midwest, a place to leave big urban centers for roadrunners in your front yard and sometimes temperamental rattlers.

This man made lake, with its world famous water feature. makes a good quiet place to stroll as the sun comes up this morning and lets me see more of it. The fountain used to be the tallest man made geyser in the world till some prince in Dubai wanted to make his new number 1 geyser and made it happen.

This morning, the sun is coming up fast. Palm trees stand like men in lime jackets on an airplane runway waving flashlights at the sun as it docks into its assigned gate. 

Mining for memories is Scott’s full time, no pay retirement job.

I never thought I’d see anything that used to be number 1 in the world.

Most life I document isn’t on anybodies list but my own.

 

 

 

In Billini Plaza 19th Century Museo of Tostada

Across from Billini plaza is a well to do man’s home of the nineteen hundreds.

His home, which I am shown through, is several hundred years older than the Alcazar de Don Colon and several hundred years behind homes you find now in the Zona Colonia with modern refrigerated air, jacuzzi’s, fancy kitchens and garages. In another two hundred years, the homes of the future will be with us and who knows what rich people will demand that might filter down to the rest of us.

The Zona Colonia has transported me back to earlier times and works on me slowly, gradually moves me to slow down, realize that people were happy in the nineteen hundreds too, even if their houses are not up to modern code.

This home, compared to even modest homes of our time, is not even up to American middle class neighborhoods.

What is more worth weighing is whether this man and family of the eighteenth century, compared with another man and family in our twenty first century, flourished and lived a happy life, in spite of the house they lived in..

 

 

Museo of Rum In the Zona Colonia

Rum has been around for centuries.

Columbus brought the first sugarcane to the new world, and, shortly after, the first sugar cane plantation, worked by slaves, was begun in the New World in the Dominican Republic.  A trade route was begun with Europe bringing African slaves to the America’s, trading them for rum, tobacco, cotton and other resources to take back to Europe. A rich European merchant class was built on people working under a hot sun having someone else tell them when they could stop.

Rum is said to increase good cholesterol, combat artery blockages to help prevent heart attacks and disease. Rum is low calorie, strengthens bones,promotes heart health,combats muscle pain,fights the common cold, acts as a sleep aid, extends longevity, reduces the risk of alzheimer’s disease.

Sir Francis Drake gave his sailors a daily shot of rum and pirates drank the stuff instead of water, which was not always available, especially in the middle of an ocean.

The Museo of Rum in the Zona Colonia makes rum on its premises and has a free tasting bar.

I buy myself some coffee flavored rum I hope I can get through Customs and back home, and I plan to implement a daily regimen of rum for all the health benefits that accrue from drinking it.

I will , though, never become a Los Angeles Raider football fan.

Pirates, even Jack Sparrow, are too shady for my taste,

 

 

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