After we moved into the van and out of our little "casita" on Van Patten Ave. we relocated to the campus of New Mexico State University for four days. Joe volunteered to work the Fifteenth Annual International Mariachi Conference. He was thrilled to be back on campus at his alma mater and spent hours in the libraries.
On Sunday we attended a Mariachi Mass. About 7,000 filed into the Pan American Center greeted at the entrance with a troupe of twenty or more dancers dressed in huge feather headdresses at least three feet high and costumes that appeared to be Aztec, but I'm not sure. Their ankles were covered with rattling nut shells.
The mass honored all the 15-year-olds, quinceaneras and quinceaneros who were born the year the conference began. On stage Mariachi Cobre of Epcot Center and Mariachi Real de Chihuahua performed before a mass administered by the Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, the Bishop of Las Cruces. Tears were streaming down my cheeks as a choir sang "Ava Maria."
The pageantry was overwhelming. Young girls were dressed in beautiful white dresses and veils. Female dancers were enveloped in the colorful ruffled skirts, men wore sashes and conquistador like hats with blue feathers. A procession of priests in flowing white robes were followed by a subdued parade of women in black.
The Hispanic culture is so rich. I watched in amazement as the beautiful women of all ages managed their three and four inch stiletto heels up and down the stadium walkways! A procession of numerous groups approached the alter to bring gifts such as pumpkins, flowers, fruit, wine, and sundry other items. It was a fitting exit from Las Cruces, so moving and majestic, we felt blessed, humbled, and happy as we finally left town.
After three days in San Rafael visiting my friend Andrew, whom I met in Alaska back in the 80s, we are currently urban camping in Albuquerque before heading out to Placitas. So we continue to roam New Mexico.
(Joe Speers & Pamela Hurst: firstname.lastname@example.org)