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Southwest Discovery ECS | Deep Experiences and Deep Knowledge

March 14, 2017

For our fifth day in New Mexico, we started our day by walking to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church to attend Mass on what many of us discovered was the second Sunday of Lent, the season before Easter. This experience was pretty different from an experience that many of us had had before because of the mixture of cultures and people participating. The service itself was a mixture of Spanish and English, and the priest was a very friendly man from Africa who greeted each of us individually following the service. Afterwards, we headed across the street to get ice cream in celebration of Joey C.’s birthday. Later, we traveled to a site on the outskirts of Taos where the ancient Puebloans had built a kiva, a sacred underground room used for religious ceremonies. We were able to learn much about the Ancient Puebloan religion from our guide. We learned that these people were very secretive with their traditions, and no outsiders have knowledge about what happens in the Kivas. Just after leaving the kiva, we visited Taos Drums, an arts and crafts factory and store with the world’s largest selection of Native American crafted drums, where we were able to pound on the enormous Thunder Drum as well as many other drums in the place. In the evening, a guest came and told us traditional Taos alien and ghost stories around a campfire. It was interesting to hear these stories from somebody who has lived in Taos for twenty years and was here to personally experience many of the stories he told. This day opened our eyes to new cultures and to the vast religious beliefs of the people who make up Taos.

In the morning, we went to the Red Willow farm that is owned and run by the native Taos Puebloan people. We worked on the farm for around two hours doing many tasks, such as composting, sifting compost, breaking up plant beds, and planting seeds into starter pots. Afterwards, we traveled to natural hot springs at the edge of the Rio Grande river. Along the 20 minute hike to the springs, we were able to see many gorgeous views of the upper Rio Grande gorge and the river flowing through it. The hot springs were warm, and it was a very refreshing experience. We even watched three bighorn sheep descend on the other side of the river to get a drink as we soaked. In the evening, we went to Larry Torres’ house. Larry is the Deacon of the local Catholic Church that we visited yesterday. This was an irreplaceable, unforgettable experience, and one that we will probably never have again. He has lived in 57 countries, has been a professor at the high school and University of New Mexico at Taos, has published over 3000 articles and 12 books, and has been interviewed on TV multiple times. We had the honor of touring his house, which was like walking into an art piece. Even though the house was relatively small, the tour took 3 hours because every piece of art, decoration, and furniture has a very significant and meaningful story to go along with it. Overall, this day was very busy, and we felt accomplished knowing that we had done a lot of good work for other people and also learned a lot for ourselves.

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