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When I was in Las Cruces, I had the pleasure of seeing some beautiful sunsets. I thought I would share a few photos and a description of how I saw my first one. My friend Ben challenged me to write five different versions of this from different points of view. I only wrote four- I will get to a 5th one eventually. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my next few posts. I wasn’t going to post these, but as i told people about it, it was suggested that I do. This one is how I saw it as it happened.

One day in Las Cruces, I came back from White Sands Desert and caught the tail end of a sunset. I felt it necessary to find a spot the next day and watch it. I bought a couple of tamales and found a decent place to watch the spectacle I missed the night before.
I pulled over and said “Where is my Moon” within a few moments she started to come out over the Organ Mountains-as if she peeked out to see if I was there before making her appearance.

As the sun was going down, she was coming out in full regalia! The colors were beautiful. I have seen many sunsets, 99% of which were on the east coast. The blue in the sky was a different blue. It was a lighter blue than I have seen, kinda of a silvery blue- the kind of blue one might see on a building in Miami or South Florida- reminiscent of the Art Deco Period. As the Moon went higher, the sky darkened to the deep rich midnight blue.

The mountains, during all of this time had their own thing going on. As the sun was going down, the jagged skyline of the mountains were fiery red. It almost appeared as if they were ablaze. It was only momentarily though. Standing there, in awe of this magnificent show, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Within a few minutes (maybe 15) the mountains put on their own show. The red calmed to a almost pink. The pink turned into a shade of purple. The kind of purple like a Lilac. At one moment, I swear I could even smell the lilacs wafting. From there it went to a really warm gold. As the Moon went higher, it was if she was acknowledging the Sun and thanking him for such a show. At the last moment of sunlight, it was if the tips of the mountains looked liked candles individually lit. The Moon smiled in approval, she nodded at me as if to say “thank you for coming” and then blew them out.

My photos are not in order, but I hope you get the gist. Thank you for reading!

As 2013 comes to a close, this will be my last post of the year! I have been on the road for about 11 weeks now. It has been quite an adventure up to this point. I have been to a lot of different places and met a lot of really nice people. If you are new to this blog you can check out the “Cities I have Been To” category on my home page. I have learned a few things about myself and constantly amazed with the kindness of strangers. I mentioned that I have met a lot of cool people, it is absolutely true. Sometimes I have been in a city and I just don’t want to leave because of the new friendships I have made. I have also been able to meet up with some old friends and meet Facebook friends face to face.

I think back to a conversation I had with my friend Chris or Kee (maybe both) about waiting until the Spring to begin. I didn’t dismiss it entirely, it was a good idea. I could have saved a lot more money and not have had that as a stressor. I couldn’t wait that long to get out of Savannah. I liked my job at The 5 Spot, and I liked all who I worked with. I just had to get out of Savannah. I really wanted to be out on the road with Gilda and making music and seeing all this country has to offer. I have been able to that so far. I have seen lots of beautiful places and a lot of historical places which I have read about and now have been able to experience. I think the desert is absolutely beautiful. The flip side to all of this- I left with what I thought was a decent cushion. My brother in law, Ed and I had a plan for this trip, and made it different than the last few short trips I was on. It has not worked out at all like I had hoped. In all of the places I have been there have only been a handful, that I actually made some money in. No, the trip isn’t about making money in the sense that I am going to become “rich and famous” that would be silly. It would be nice to make enough to make a living though. I mean isn’t that why we work, to make money to make a living? I am not greedy, I don’t require much. I have had some help from a few friends and family members along the way and for that help I am so grateful. If it wasn’t for that help, I would be stuck somewhere cold right now.

I can no longer ask for help from my friends or family, it is time to stop for a while and make some money. I have stopped in the southwest and I will be here for the next few months, working and saving some money to continue. The Pearl needs to have a little work on her done and Gilda will need maintenance soon. I can also Busk here during my time off from work. I have an interview lined up for Thursday and I have a couple other applications out. I would have gone to California, but I read about the Busking laws out there in Southern Cali, and it is a nightmare there. I am not willing to take the chance with a lottery system and the high cost of living there at this point in time. Perhaps in the future. It is entirely possible I am going to change my route in the Spring. I will have to see what is going on then. For now, I will remain here in the Land of Enchantment. I have been welcomed by the people here and it is nice to be part of something.

I will also use this time to work on my craft and become a better Saxophonist. I have hit a plateau at this point. I was coming up with some really pretty melodies and then I lost them. I don’t know what happened, but they are gone. There is a Jazz and Blues Society that meets here once a month, I am looking forward to getting involved with that. I met a man who told me about that my first day here. Also, being surrounded by so much beauty here it is hard not to feel inspired!

I feel 2013 was a year of building things- a year of transition- I feel all the groundwork laid in 2013 will make 2014 take off. Not just for me, but for all of us. I know a lot of people out there have had a tough year with various things and we all made through. Look out, and be ready when it happens, because 2014 is going to be amazing!!!

Happy New Year to all of you- my friends, my family and to all of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, I hope to soon!

Love to all of you! And Thank you for your continued support!

By the time the Monday (the 23rd) came around, I was really missing Las Cruces. There was something about the Busking in Tucson that just didn’t feel good to me.  Though there is no permit necessary and the police leave you alone, there was just something about it.  The street I was on, 4th Ave., reminded me of Savannah’s River St.- and not in a good way. Of, course, both streets have their good points, they also have the not so good.  Anyway, there is a seemingly large population of homeless there (for obvious reasons) and the panhandling, it is tough to make any money.  In the 6-7 times I went out, I actually had one decent shift, the rest were well below average. Obviously I didn’t go out on Christmas Day, but after my movie and dinner I did check out the scene and it was just as I expected.  It was the same on Christmas Eve.  I thought I would stay through the weekend and play at the Farmer’s Market, but I had trouble finding it/them through my GPS.  It kept taking me to produce stands even though I punched in Farmer’s Market, I tried 3 times and went to 3 different locations.  Just aside note, the roads there are terrible too.

There were a couple of good things that happened though, one, I got to meet another Facebook friend in person.  We met up at The Blue Willow restaurant and had breakfast.  They do a great job at that restaurant, the food was really good.  I always have oj at breakfast without seeing how much it costs, imagine my surprise when the bill came and it was $4.50! It was good oj, to be sure, but really?  I had a wonderful conversation and meeting with my friend, it was an awesome way to start the day. When we left, we stopped in the gift shop and she bought some cards for friends and surprised me at the car with a Peace Frog ornament.  It is beautiful, and it is hanging up in the van.  Thank you, Sarah! It was great to meet you and hang out for a a couple of hours.  

The second was at the Pilot Travel Center. I stayed there Christmas Eve and Christmas night. I was able to see “A Christmas Story” That made me really happy, I can’t have Christmas without that or “It’s a Wonderful Life” I prefer both, but one or the other will suffice. On Christmas Day, I got productive and did laundry and the people at Pilot didn’t charge me for a shower. In return, I gave the man, Travis, a cd. Later on, courtesy of my friend, JT back in NH, I went to see a movie and had dinner in restaurant after.  Not even close to being with family and/or friends whether they be old or new, and believe me I missed them. It was tougher than I would be on Christmas Day, especially seeing the photos everyone was posting. JT thank you so much for your gift that day! I also want to thank those that gave me call or a text to wish me a Merry Christmas! When I got back to the Pilot I was talking to a person who works there (I didn’t get her name) about how  each of our Holiday was. 

The weather was great in Tucson and it didn’t get to cold at night.  I met  couple of really cool people and I played well. However, the general vibe of the town as a Busker, is not a good one- at least for me.

I went to Phoenix on Friday night, I was excited about that because I was going to see a friend of mine there and that would have been awesome. In less than 24 hours, I managed to get marked by 2 different people on a 3 block stretch. Though I did decent on the Friday night I was there, I didn’t feel like it was good idea to stick around on Saturday. I didn’t get to see my friend, but I will- another time.  We just had a chat and we will meet up in a couple of months.

 All I am going to say about Busking in Tempe on Mill Ave. is this, there is plenty of traffic. There is enough to go around for everyone- there was no need for a couple of people to be arrogant and/or nasty- especially when one of them was a fu***** panhandler! No permit necessary to Busk there either, but watch out for the territorial ass**** that are there, not very professional and not to understanding of “the code”.  I generally don’t like to talk this, however, I feel it is warranted. I make no apologies if I offend anyone.

 

I left Las Cruces after the Farmer’s/Artist’s Market on Saturday, because I  wanted to be in Tucson by 6 or so, so I had to get going.  I made my rounds and said “Bye” and “Merry Christmas” to all of the people I met and made me feel so welcome.  I have more pictures to upload, but until I can figure out how to get them on my computer, it could be a little while.  I just got a free upgrade and I am having a little trouble. I have some pictures of the people I met as well as some more shots around La  Mesilla.  I will put captions under all of them when I do!  

I got into Tucson a little later than I wanted to and of course, immediately got lost.  By the time I found a place to park it was almost 7pm.  I got right out and walked all down 4th Ave. Everything I have read said 4th Ave and the Farmer’s Markets were the places to be. So I walked all up and down 4th Ave and there was so much going on on that Saturday night.  There was music coming out of speakers on almost every corner and honestly, I didn’t even see any other buskers out there.  There must have been a reason. As I was walking, I saw Father Winter(i think) and a bunch of other people in costume.  They were on their way to a Solstice Celebration complete with a fire show.  I found that out later.  With all of this going on, I knew I couldn’t compete with it so I decided to put my gear away and watch the fire show.  I enjoyed the show, it was about 30 minutes long and there were all kinds of things they did. They were dancing with fire rings, blowing fire, poi, fire hula hoops and staffs and even a little acrobatics. It really was a fun show to watch!  By the time the show was over, it was getting late and as I looked around it was the kind of crowd I just didn’t want to deal with.  (I was actually missing La Mesilla Plaza at this point) 

Sunday, I went down and I wanted to get right to work.  About 30 minutes into my shift, a homeless man stopped and said he liked what I was playing, he really enjoys the saxophone;  He stood across from me for the next 30 minutes.  As much as I enjoy talking to people, including homeless people, I didn’t want him hanging around because it is bad for business.  Maybe that sounds like a mean thing to say, but it is true.  I love it when they walk by and nod in appreciation, I even like to have a short conversation, hell, sometimes they throw a coin or two in my tip box. Even though he was a nice man, I don’t need him or other homeless hanging around during a busy time. Sometimes that is the risk when one is busking in any given city or town.  I can either stay out there and waste my time or just leave, I left.  I decided to use that time to write some and get back to reading a book I started up again in Cruces. I also got in touch with a friend of mine in Tucson and a friend in Phoenix. 

While I was writing, a woman at the coffee shop asked my opinion on which mug looked better.  I gave my opinion and she thanked me. She grabbed a couple more and went to pay for them.  About 7 minutes later, she came back and said “I just wanted to say thank you for your help, Merry Christmas!” and handed me a gift bag with one of those coffee mugs in it!  That really surprised me, so I got up and gave her a hug and said “Thank you, Merry Christmas!” Then she left. I was just so surprised. I mean all I said was “That one” and pointed. It was very sweet.

I was talking to my friend in Phoenix later that night.  I am thinking I am going to stay in Tucson or Phoenix for a couple of months and regroup. I need to wait to a little while until the weather warms up before I head further.I also need to get a job and save some more money before I go further also. My friend in Phoenix, was giving me some kind of idea as to what rentals are there and I am looking in the Tuscon area.  I am not making any decision until after the Holidays are over. I have much to do in the way of research.

Today, I got out in full force on 4th Ave.  I did my first shift in the early afternoon. It was about average. I found I was in a pretty decent place. However, for my second shift, I had to be in a different place, because they would be open.  I found myself in front of a Dia de los Muertos type of store.  They were closed for the day, so I set up there. It wasn’t as good as my first shift, but it was okay.  During this shift, my friend in Tucson gave me a call.  We will be meeting up tomorrow and that will be very cool!  I went out for my third shift, just after sundown. I stayed out there for about 30 minutes, it was super slow out there this evening, weird. I talk with a man named Brody on the way back to the Pearl and asked him about it. He said “It was slow for a Monday, probably on account of the Holiday.” “If anyone gives you any trouble, come get me”  I said “All right!”  It is nice to know that is there- just in case. I got to the Pearl and went to get some food. I am no stranger to Holiday busking, in Savannah, it was a crap shoot year to year. I am sure it is the same everywhere. I will be out there tomorrow, after I meet up with my friend and I will play my heart out! For Christmas, I will probably go to the movies and enjoy the rest of the day reading and writing. I will also be reflecting on how fortunate I am. I will be doing a post here at some point on things we take for granted. There are things I used to do pretty frequently, that now are like a real treat. For example, eating a meal in a restaurant.  Man, it really is the little things!

For now, to you- my readers, my friends- old and new- and of course and especially, my family, 

Merry Christmas to all of you, please know how grateful I am to all of you and how much I love all of you! 

I spent a little over a week here, the longest I have stayed anywhere as of yet. There is so much to that area that I like. For one thing, the scenery and history of the area is amazing! I could not get enough of the Moon rise over those mountains, though I only saw it three times. The sunsets were some of the most beautiful I had ever seen. It is easy to find your way around. The couple of times I got food at a restaurant, it was excellent. I know I say it a lot, but the people at the Market that I met and got to know were just awesome! There is a market 2 days a week on Las Cruces Main St. and a market 2 days a week in the Plaza in La Mesilla. Fortunately, I was able to play at both of a couple of times. Each time I went and I got to see the people I had met- Miles and Jainey, Gabe, Dodds, Lincoln, Eliot and her husband(sorry, I forgot his name,ugh) and of course, Duane- it was like meeting up with old friends. That is the way they made me feel anyway. All of them and the ones I only met once all made me like part of the “Market Family”. Irene, the woman in charge of special events, in La Mesilla was also very cool. I really had no problem, getting adjusted to anything there.

Playing in the La Mesilla Plaza when there is no market however, can be a little lonesome. I would go out there during the early afternoon and then again in the evening. During the day all week it was absolutely beautiful weather, it cooled off considerably at night. During these shifts there were a few people that would walk through the Plaza, and most of them that walked by me, would drop a little something. The sound of the solo saxophone in that Plaza was pretty cool. I wish it brought more people out, but the few it did bring out were sweet and very friendly.

Two of those nights stick out more than many on this entire trip. One one, Linda, who owns the Chocolate Lady, walked over with a tip and THE best large cup hot chocolate I think I may have ever had! Later, Santa Claus came walking through the Plaza, it was awesome! He was just walking along enjoying the evening, he stopped, as I was talking with a couple of people. They took some pictures, unfortunately, my phone was on the charger! After they left, I was talking with Santa for a few minutes and then the Bishop walked by! I had never met a Bishop before. Yeah yeah- I know there is a joke in there somewhere, “A Jazz Man, Santa and a Bishop walk into a bar….” that is as far as I want that to go! The three of us had a nice conversation for a few minutes and Santa and the Bishop left. I got back to playing and a few minutes later, Santa drove by and yelled out his window “Hey Boston! I have something for you!” He handed me a strand of battery operated lights, I thought that was pretty cool. I thank him and he went off. I wrapped the lights around Gilda and she looked beautiful all lit up!!

On the Friday afternoon market,I didn’t get to play too long, as it rained. After, I put all my gear away, I saw Father Richard and I asked him if I could see the Basilica. He took me in and guided me through. I sat down for a few minutes and then I left. After talking to Dodds, I decided I would go to Emilia’s for a late lunch. The food there is excellent, at least what I had was. I was talking to Ricky and Lynn, the owners, and they told me there would be a band that night. Thinking it was going to rain, I figured I would go see the band. Later I went, and it was a trio, and they were really good, very mellow laid back jazz trio. I listened for a while and saw that it wasn’t raining. I decided to go play for a while myself. This is the other night that sticks out. I wasn’t even going to play, and it turned out to be one of the best shifts I have had on this entire trip. I was so grateful at the end of the night, not just for how well I did, but as always- and I mean always for the people I get to meet and talk to. That entire night was just the perfect end to my last night in that area.

The next day at Las Cruces Market, it was very cold and windy. Only about a third of the vendors showed up. About 10 minutes after I started playing, a youngster named Evan, who was carrying a saxophone approached me. He wanted to play with me and split the tips we got while he was there. At first, I didn’t want to. But then I thought, “why not?” We took turns playing songs. He has only been playing the sax for 4 months, he had been playing oboe, but he was playing things he learned by ear from a band he likes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the band. We tried a shot at doing some improv together, it didn’t go too well, but at least we tried! He was with me for about 15-20 minutes and we didn’t have to split anything, it didn’t matter- I think we had a good time! Thank you for that, Evan!

I was able to last about 2 hours out there on Saturday morning. I met a couple who was busking their way east. I thought that was cool, I am headed west, they are headed east! We shared some information on the locations we had already been to. I wish them the best! Duane had organized a Tuba Christmas for later. I went to watch that, as I used to play tuba in high school. That was a great show. After the show, I walked around for a few minutes and decided it was time to head to Tucson. I looked for all of my new friends so I could say goodbye. Everyone was so sweet, with hugs and “Next time you are in town…” and Elliot gave me an ornament that she had made from her table. I put that right up next to the one Jainey gave me. All of that made it a little more difficult to go.

La Mesilla is a small town just outside of Las Cruces.  When I got here on Friday morning, there was a Farmer’s/Artist’s Market going on and I was happy to see that.  My fellow New Englanders, Jainey and Miles, pointed out the person I needed to talk to.I went over and asked her what the rules were and yes, a permit is necessary.  It is very easy to obtain, one just needs to go to Town Hall and fill out a paper and have a demo of their music- or a link to it.  Since it was an unusual day, I was not going to be able to that until Monday. I thought it over and talked with my brother-in-law and decided to stay.  I was able to work at the Market in Las Cruces the next morning and that would just give me Sunday off. On Sunday, I went to get a couple of tamales and watch the Moon rise and the sunset against the mountains. On my way to the restaurant, I ran into Jainey and Miles again at the Sunday Market and Jainey gave me an ornament she made out of a buffalo gourd. It is beautiful, and so thoughtful.  I put it up in the Pearl right when I got back!

Monday morning, I went back to Town Hall and talk with the permits lady and she told me then, the Mayor has to give final approval.  The Mayor wasn’t in on Monday. I still gave her all of my info and sign the paperwork hoping, the Mayor would respond anyway.  I figured I would walk around the Plaza area some and go down a couple alleys I hadn’t been down yet.  That doesn’t take very long, it is a small area, but it is a wonderful area to walk and look at the houses.  I love the adobe style houses! There are a few for sale right next to the Plaza! There are also a couple that are boarded up and  of course that just puts my imagination to work, wondering what it was like years ago.  I ended up going back to the Pearl and accidentally took a nap- WTH – I didn’t want to take a nap! I didn’t get the phone call I was hoping for, so I had another day off. 

I went to go watch the Moon rise again. I wasn’t in the same spot, but it doesn’t seem to matter, it is sheer magic when she comes out from behind those mountains! Afterwards, I grabbed something to eat and went into the bookstore to write in my journal. Later, I got to talk with a friend for a little while. So all in all, even though I didn’t want the day off, it turned out to be a most wonderful day! 

This morning I got the okay to go ahead and get to work.  I went down to the Plaza and it is quite a different story when there is no Market going on.  I went out and played my first shift and though it was slow, got to meet a couple who are also buskers.  They hung around for a few minutes after some Christmas shopping.  There were a few people hanging around the Plaza either walking their dog, or taking photos.  I got to meet a few of them. The sound in the Plaza is pretty cool too.  I found I have to play softer than normal.  The sound just carries all the way down the entire Plaza, and I didn’t want any complaints.  It was a beautiful day this afternoon and I was just happy to be out there! 

I went back out tonight.  I wanted to see the Moon rise for the third night in a row, but she came out a little later than I thought tonight. I didn’t see her until about 30 minutes after I went to work. Of course, I had to pause and take some pictures when she got high enough above the buildings.  It cools down fast after the sun goes down. The Plaza looks wonderful all lit up at night! I still did a full shift though. During this shift, a photog named Emmitt, was out and was going to shoot the Moon.  He shot me instead.  I talked to him for bit and he said “I heard this lone saxophone, the only thing that would make it better is if it was midnight.”  I gave him my card so he could send me a couple of them.  He was a very nice man and I liked playing for him while he took some photos.  It has been a while since that has happened.  It doesn’t matter if it is slow, you never know what is going to happen or who you might meet.  

I have taken a lot of photos in the last couple of days. These are the best, I think, of the ones I took. Some are blurry, sorry about that. These are also photos of the White Sands Desert and a couple from the Farmer’s Market in Las Cruces. There are several of the moon rising over the mountains while the sun is setting. I got a couple of tamales and had a nice solo picnic while I watched that. It was amazing! Also a few I took of some things in the Pearl my niece and nephews have given me, I want to let them know I am using the ornaments they gave me! Anyway, I am going to be here for a few more days. I hope to have some more cool photos to share!

Albert Askenazi

Don Quixote 2

Don Quixote 4

Don Quixo

Don Quixote 1

Don Quixote in the Study

Don Quixote on Rust

Don Quixote Sculpture

Multiple Don Quixote

Sad Don Quixote

Billy the Kid Marker

Billy the Kid Trial

Arch with a cactus

Entance to shops and galleries

Wine Store

El Patio

El Patio Historic Marker

El Patio at night

Luminaires on the roof

Mesilla Door

La Posta Marker

La Posta

The Bsilica of San Albino

Lighting the Luminaires

Luminaires and the Basilica of San Albino

Light the tree and the Basilica

Me and the tree

On the way to White Sands

Desert Moon 1

Desert Moon 2

A couple having some fun

Desert Moon 3

Desert Sun 1

Desert Sun 2

Sun and Plant 2

White Sands 5

White Sands 3

Sun and plant

White Sands 1

White Sands 4

White Sands 2

Jainey and Miles

Santa arrives on a Harley!

La Mesilla Plaza

La Mesilla Plaza 2

Las Cruces Farmer's Market

Las Cruces Farmer's Market 2

Outdoor Dining

Plaza 2

Tamales

Moon Rise 1

Moon Rise 2

Moon Rise 3

Moon Rise 4

Moon Rise 5

Sunset 1

Sunset 2

Sunset 3

Sunset 4

Sunset 6

Sunset 7

Sunset 8

Sunset 9

Sunset 10

Sunset 11

Sunset 12

Sunset 13

Sunset 14

Sunset 15

Hezzy 2

Hezzy 1

Biv

Thank you for taking a look!

I got into Las Cruces on Thursday, the 12, and as I had just got into to town I drove by an Art Gallery having an all World of Don Quixote Exhibit.  I went right around the block and parked and went in.  I LOVE Don Quixote.  When I was a youngster, my brother took my Mom to see the play in Boston.  She bought the soundtrack and the music from Man of la Mancha filled the house for months.  Believe it or not, it never got old- at least to me.  All of us kids knew every word on the cassette. I finally saw the movie with Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren and I liked that too.  It was like Don Quixote was a part of my life, as if I knew him.  It wasn’t until two years ago, I read the book.  It is an amazing book! It is not a particularly easy read, but a wonderful one it is!  I digress, anyway, when I saw the sign for that exhibit, I had to go in.  They entire collection belongs to a couple who have been collecting all things Don Quioxte for over 40 years.  They have an extensive collection of original art from all over the world.  They have sculptures, figurines, the book itself in many languages-including the ONLY edition of Don Quixote in braille! The entire exhibit is on loan from them.  How fortuitous that I should come through while it was still here. I also got to meet them and speak with them for a few minutes before they left.  I think they were entertaining friends.  They were really sweet and the man said “It makes me happy that you have read the book!”  Those paintings and drawings were all fabulous! I don’t know what my deal is, but I get overwhelmed when I look upon works like these.  It is almost like I am going to cry over the beauty of these works of art, much like I did at Crystal Bridges Museum.  They are that beautiful! I called my Mom right after I left there and told her all about it.  

Since there was nothing going on in the downtown area, I called it an early night. The next day, on the advice of Ruben, from El Paso, I went to Mesilla to see what was going on there. It turns out there was a Farmer’s Market.  Every Wednesday and Friday they have it right in the Historic Plaza of Mesilla. I met a couple from New England, Jainey and Miles, we got to talking and made fast friends.  They were very helpful with some info as to where to go and what to do, including getting a coffee.  I went to the town hall and the people who had the answers weren’t there.  I got back to the Plaza and Jainey pointed out the person I needed to talk to.  I did, it turns out a permit is necessary and only takes a few minutes to fill out some paperwork.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t do it that day, I have to wait till Monday.  I walk around a little more and found out the Christmas Tree lighting was that night, so I was happy about that.  

I got back to Las Cruces and went to that town hall to get a permit to play there.  I did research and I found there was busking allowed at the Farmer’s Market there, which they have on Saturday and Monday, I think.  Apparently, that is the only time busking is allowed.  It is not allowed in the city, they don’t even give permits for it.  Farmer’s Market is a private deal, and the city has nothing to do with that.  That is why it is allowed there. Now, I have the rest of the day off.  I wasn’t to happy about that, as it was a Friday night.  At least it gave me plenty of time to go to the Christmas tree lighting.  I got back there and they were light candles in bags around the entire Plaza and there were already some lit up on the roof of some of the restaurants and shops. It was just starting to get dark and already it was looking fantastic in the Plaza.   People were gathering around, the middle school choir was warming up and it was definitely feeling festive!  The ceremony started and the choir sang some tunes, the Mayor-who I met earlier that day) gave a speech and then they lit the tree. It was brief, but it was awesome, they gave out hot chocolate and cookies and the choir sang some more songs.

I went to the Basilica de San Albino gift shop after to get a warm and they were also giving out coffee/hot chocolate as it was an open house. I met Father Richard who is the Sr Priest there and we had a nice conversation and then he had to go. I met another man named Victor who was very knowledgeable of the history there, especially the Basilica. The bell ringer of the Basilica is a 4th generation bell ringer there.  Apparently, tradition is taken very seriously.  He also gave me the lowdown on some of the structures.  For those who don’t know, Mesilla is where Billy the Kid use to hang/hide out.  The gift store/cafe I went into was the actual court house where he had his trial.  There are some other historical facts there which I will put up with the photos I took.  I am also a big fan of the old west and those stories and legends, so to be there has been quite an experience! (Makes me look even more forward to seeing Tombstone!) 

 

Today, I figured I would go to the Market and and play until they asked me to leave.  As with a lot of Markets, I have found one has to move every half hour or so.I saw Jainey and Miles there so I set up next to them to begin.  This is the biggest Market I have ever seen- it takes up all of Main St. in downtown! There are even markers for the musicians.  As I moved around and made way through the Market, the Block Captains were saying thank you to me for being there.  I thought that was sweet.  They probably say that to everyone, but nonetheless, it is always nice to hear.  Certainly better than hearing “You got to go!” So I played 4 hours! I really enjoyed myself there today.  Only one complaint- there were food trucks and none of them had sausage and peppers ;)  

Having played for 4 hours, I thought I would go see the White Sands.  I looked at the map and though the National Monument was 50 miles out, it looked like there wood be white sands long before then, just over the mountain. I was wrong.  I had no idea what I was in for.  After climbing a mountain to 5700ish feet high, on the way back down, you kind of make a commitment to yourself that you are going the distance.  The Pearl doesn’t really like those climbs, but we made it! It is all down hill after that, until the way back.  I got out there finally, I didn’t go to the Monument, I just wanted to see the white sands.  It was breathtakingly beautiful! Mountains off in the distance with clouds right above them with the light moon made for a few nice pictures.  The desert area itself was just as beautiful, as far as the eye could see, there were dunes and mounds with some plants interspersed throughout.  After taking several pictures, I stood for a few minutes and noticed there was absolutely NO sound! There wasn’t any wind and I stood there in awe of everything around me. There was a sunset walking tour that started at 4pm but there was no way I was driving back in the dark.  When I got back to Mesilla, it was staring to get dark, but the sun was still on the mountains.  It was just like one sees on a postcard- the upper half of the mountains went from red, to magenta to a pink to a really misty blue and the moon was above, getting brighter.  There is so much a person can see and do and it doesn’t cost a thing. The remarkable beauty I have been able to see (not just on this trip either)- in nature, in the arts, and in people continue to remind me of just how  fortunate I am!

On Tuesday, I woke up and decided it was definitely going to be the day I go to Rosa’s Cantina.  It may sound silly to some, but I have always loved the tune “El Paso” by Marty Robbins and I wanted to see the place.  It is a little place a few miles away from the downtown area.  Apparently, that used to be the main road, before they put in the interstate. Back in the day, there wasn’t much on that road- as I understood it.  I walked in and it was like stepping back in time, to a degree. I was like a kid in the candy store! I went in just to ask questions and take pictures, but I was seduced by the charm of the place. I sat at the bar and Carol was the bartender.She gave mne a menu and before I even ordered, I had chips and salsa verde and a bowl of hot soup I can’t pronounce. I ordered the beef taco plate with re-fried beans and rice and it was freakin’ awesome! As I was having my soup, I saw the owner, Oscar, and I asked him some questions.  Though he is not the original owner, he knows the history of the place.  There is a wonderful framed tribute to the original owner and Mart Robbins on the wall, as well as some sign and framed albums.  Oscar told me the bar used to be up front and the men and women had to be on opposite sides of the room.  Weird, but true, back in the day they had to be separated.  They had live music then, just as they do now. After I finished my soup, I took a bunch of pictures- I am such a tourist sometimes. 

I asked Carol what the turnover was for the kitchen.  She said “There isn’t any, Martha has been here for 35 years”  She went on to tell me she makes everything fresh everyday.  There are no microwaves back there and if she runs out- she runs out. Apparently, that doesn’t happen very often though.  She has an assistant working with her named, Claudia.  The kitchen is very small but they goet the job done. Martha definitely has her act down to a science.  I peeked in for a couple of minutes to watch what they do.  I am amazed at what they do back there in that small space- it is poetry in motion.  Carol has been there since Oscar took ownership back in 2007.  I get the impression, the turnover for any position is nil.  I kept asking her questions as I had my lunch and she answered all of them. She even took my picture under the sign at the bar!  My lunch, including a Tecate came to $8.   There was another server there, I did not get her name but she was also friendly and asked me how I was doing and if I got enough pictures.  I can’t help but wonder if her name was Galina ;) that would have been too much!  Seeing all of that in person and then listening to the tune, it is almost like being there as a witness to everything that happened. I left there happy and satisfied for many reasons.

After lunch, I went downtown to San Antonio and Stanton and I really just love the acoustics there! I also like the JCPenny across the street that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 60s.  I was feeling a little under the weather, I noticed that while I was doing laundry earlier.  I was hoping it was just the sniffles from the cold weather.  I still played a full shift though. It wasn’t as busy as it was the previous two days but, as usual, the people here are very nice.  As I was ready to wrap it up anyway, a man told me to go down to El Paso and Paisano, there are a lot of people there he said.  It was also getting a little late.  I had been looking for that area because there are a lot of people walking in that area.  There are a lot of sidewalk sales and such going on there.  I had seen it before, but couldn’t find my way back there.  I did find a problem though, a lot of music, being played on loud speakers outside. I thought to myself, I will get here earlier tomorrow.  There was a pawn shop selling on of  Pancho Villa’s fingers (at least that is what it looked like with what it said) for the low price of $9,995. 

Today (Wednesday), I found my way to that same area.  There was still music being played on loud speakers, but I found a spot in front of a closed business.  Only to get asked to move before I finished my first tune.  Apparently, the business next door, promotes the music of a local musician and he didn’t like me being there.  He asked me nicely to move it down a block, so I did. I played about two songs my nose was running like a faucet.  It was just the cold weather sniffles, ugh! I knew that when I woke up, but thought I would give it a shot anyway.  I lasted about 30 minutes out there.  Not only that, I didn’t have those awesome acoustics.  I think I may have got spoiled at the other location.  Tonight is my last night in El Paso, I am head to Las Cruces and should be there Thursday afternoon.  I have enjoyed my time in El Paso.  The people here, as I have mentioned, are friendly- from the homeless man who wanted to give me a swig of his vodka, to keep me warm when he had nothing else to offer when he heard me playing. To the people at the Artist’s Market (Rebecca, Ruben, Bonnie and Christine) and all the others who were just amazing in a lot of ways. To a long conversation over the phone making a new friend here, to Mike at the Christmas parade, to a man playing his saxophone with me, and so many other people who made it very nice to be here- Thank you!  Also, it is actually pretty easy to find your way around pretty easily.  The scenery  of the desert and mountains are also something. I am so looking forward to seeing more of that as I head further west!  

 

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