Sonora; The Magical Mystery Tour 2011

Out of the blue Gil asks if I want to go to Sonora. Dkish invites herself and it's a posse! Trigger has a stroke. His 985th life.... one eyed and swaggering like an old Chinese Pirate he has survived AGAIN! needless to say Dkish was indisposed.... other plans totally fall through so why not head the call and just say YES? I say 'Si!' like as in Hell yeah to Gil's invite to visit his old friends down in Sonora . I so want to see something new - My interest is piqued when he tells me that I could actually see a zebra in the magical world of Mexico. And then when it actually does happen he swears to God I could probably hand feed one of them a banana !

Good to have traveling compadres - I flash to Hason reaching his hands out across the void of sorrow laid out on the kitchen table back home before everything changed; he says " I am coming with you to Mexico." Not, I am thinking about it, or...asking... he's just coming. I am grateful to have a visitor from my other home; can't believe it was almost four years since Jason came with me and helped me move into the casa. still cant' believe so much time flies. It's a new experience to see the landscape as a passenger as Jason flies in the Mariachi mobile south; just get to Mogillion - and we do. It takes everything to just get me in the van...loaded with the doors closed and heading east and south.

Mountain passes. A long wait just 15 minutes outside Agua Prieta. Running and Margeoux are meeting us at the border. Apaches. Mormons.Revolution. border wars. Farmers. Old Haciendas. Running brought me my ACME new camera just enough time to share a gran cena, at the infamous BONANZA in AP. Later in the night I reflect on how short the time was; how far they came and we spend a night so close and so far away because a fence is right there...
I am so grateful for the song and the moment like this I don't even have a picture of...the end of the year and the next one right around the corner.

Wild lands and snow topped mountains in the Sonoran desert. Family legacies and a passion for wild animals ; a reserve where Zebras and Bison roam over and around the fingers of gold.

The new year has begun in the middle of golden hills where bison roam; regal Scottish Elk duck beneath naked trees and disappear over the ridge. Rainbows and a cold wind kept at bay from the constant fires burning to keep the rooms warm. Coziness inspires red wine to flow. A song from David in the afternoon - Christmas already come and gone. Friends for years from NY,Miami,Mexico City; Us, Scottsdale and Chihuahua ; ) via Flagstaff, Arizona; what a sad state of affairs these days.

How great to travel with good and dear friends - They inspire you to stop and take part in shared experiences no words can express. They have patience for the act of stopping and making a picture. I think of all the good people we met and connected with on this trip. The unexpected invitation to go where many of our friends don't want to venture to these days is an affirmation of being here - on this side- to learn and see all I can and be sure we have a really GREAT time. The world is mad - everybody is afraid but we're lighting candles and listening to old songs in Spanish; walking under naked trees and crunching leaves into wet earth.

The media onslaught falls silent as we head down the road. It's mute as we pass another roadside shrine. how I love the shrines; god I'd never get where I was going if I stopped at every one.... maybe I should make that a project...Sunlight streaming like God's light onto a cerro in the distance. We meet families and friends as we head south. We make a circle 8 on the Rio Sonora. A two lane road with not much traffic is deceptive in it's pastoral beauty and the rich history unfolds each bend and morning with the fire crackling. I think this is where we'll turn off when we come back... seen and noted. Deceptive blacktop that gives way to dirt and land movers and big work trucks on the uphill. Abandoned work camps of tarpapered 4x 8s. The wind blows in between the two sierras.

Red roof top of drying red chile. A family eats popcorn and offers me some when I ask if I can take a photo of their chiles. A hawk flies over head. A dead badger; I wanted to look at it up close. I wonder why they're sacred animals...what's their stories? A dead horned owl too. A Giant Guadalupe on the side of the road. I relight as many candles as I can remembering the little girl and her mama relighting candles at the shrine outside of AP where people cross.

It's a road trip where we don't know what day it is. Or which path we'll take on the Sonora Trail. The maps are changing with the new paved roads over old dirt, winding mountain passes. The wind blows as we rise up from the river plain to the winding ridges and down the back side.

The Sonoran Trail:

Cool place to rest:
Cerro Colorado

Chicas Bravas Retroworks WEST

The Chicas BRAVAS!!
Arriving in Fronteras as the golden light goes down. We had out to the Valenzula's. Gil hasn't seen them in eight years. I stop to make photos of trash bags in the fence. The local police stop by ; we're odd out here... just past Geronimo's garrison. I'm reading the Apache Diaries and it's all here.... history on the winds of change in 2011.

The bunk house has a huge stove. We hang out in the kitchen. unload our cooler and get some coffee. It is cozy by the old cook stove that will come to frame and ingrain in me a portrait of Alice framed by the lines of this symbol ; the harth of the home.

Sotol from chihuahua and red wine for Scottsdale.The thick cut bacon disappeared into the black hole of the cooler but miraculously made it's reappearance back in AP. Pork Tenderloin and morning with green chile beer pancakes with real maple syrup; strong coffee... and a nice side of ham ; ) sounds loca que no? but let me tell you it will forever be a taste memory. Sweet and spicy! I added some fresh crushed walnuts too. all flavors native to the landscape...I suppose one could make some mesquite syrup to really make it local ; or serve with warmed up honey with zest of orange.

Chicas Bravas Retroworks WEST will be profiled in it's own post. I want to return and spend a couple days doing portraits and listening to stories. The revolution of grandmothers... mamas with gran corazon! What's amazing is it is NOT an overnight process... there's a dream and there's a lot of work; faith and elbow grease - my mind could not have visualized what I saw. The GRAN picture is amazing; it gave me hope for the women I met in Monte Verde - people want to learn - so how do we make ideas accessible ?

A stop at Celso's Rancho Guadalupe. We have never met but I have certainly appreciated his legacy of Sotol. I meet him and Emma on my way home.

I am back in my Mexican Dollhouse, The Casa Azul in El Pueblo, camping. pero que lindo la dias! how beautiful the days! Sunshine and warmth all around. I wish i knew about growing lettuce in the winter... ideas for composting ; heard a cool pod cast on An Organic Conversation that addresses this very issue! A good listen for the new year ; )

A green house; windows ; pathways; prayers for the dead garden to come alive in the spring. Naked trees with birds in flight ; stalling a minute pausing on the wind. I love washing dishes outside; baking in Dutch Oven treats. It's a process to keep the home fires burning and not chop off my finger with my new hatchet I had to replace since the other one was stolen.

I sit sometimes by the fire reminding myself what it was like camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon cooking for science in January when the winds would howl downstream and we had to layover because of the snow. The fire the center of our world. The rafts tied to shore. Dog beds under the cliffs up high. The sound of the river rushing by.Cold.grey green.

Milagro the cat sits on the edge of the stove. I like to kick up my boot on the edge when I eat. read a book with a headlamp on just like being on the river and waiting for it to be at least after 8 before going to bed in the long dark winter nights.

Green chiles roast. more hot water for coffee, tea... Lots of hot drinks in winter. My honey do list included adding plastic to some of the windows. A sarape over the door; It's good to
wear a hat or scarf for extra insulation.

I am compelled to make cakes and bake with the coals. A corn bread is next up or banana corn bread ; maybe banana beer pancakes manana... Swedish oatcakes..with corn meal.

more contemplation and kat yoga. Hopi radio makes me feel reflective;

Hopi radio tonight; Love and Happiness, Hotel California, I can't find my way home...classics...streaming from HOPI land... It seems I'm more like Harry Chapin flying through the borderlands in the mariachi mobile vs a taxi in NYC...wondering where I'll land ; what will take root?

Go put another log on the fire.... make some more late night coffee... this still isn't half the story.


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