July 9th – Welcome to Taos

I awoke with the sudden realization that I was wrong-side out, and ran to the bathroom, cupping my mouth. I just barely made it to the toilet in time to HUUUUUAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!! Fucking altitude sickness. Well, better to vomit before breakfast than after I suppose. I spent the next several minutes convulsing on the floor, making grotesque offerings to the porcelain god. When it was finally over, I brushed my teeth, and downed several glasses of water. Staying hydrated is a constant struggle sometimes.

I came out of the bathroom to find that I awoken Gianna. She didn’t look so well herself, so I handed off my glass of water while I fished around the pipe. If there’s one thing marijuana is great for, it ‘s medicating nausea. A bowl and most of a liter of water each later, we were ready to hit the continental breakfast, complimentary style. Bagel, coffee, lots of orange juice. God that orange juice felt good. It was Saturday, which in most places means there is a farmers market happening somewhere. Taos was no exception, so we looked it up. It was less than a mile away, so we decided to walk.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside. Maybe 80 degrees with clear blue skies. We arrived at the fairly small farmers market, and began to make the circle. Any of you who haven’t been to a farmer’s market should definitely make an effort to at some point. Everybody is super friendly and there is amazing tasty local food everywhere. Gianna was carrying her hoops, so we got stopped by several vendors wanting to see her do something. She managed to trade a short hoop performance for a really tasty salad and some sort of chocolate mushroom “elixir” beverage. We walked around a bit more, staked out a spot for Gianna to throw down a hat, and then I went and sat down in the shade while Gianna proceeded to blow people’s mind with her extra-dimensional hooping capacities. Several vendors came and put food in the hat, including a bottle of awesome local honey. I think over about 30 minutes she made almost $20 in cash, and probably $12-15 worth of food. Overall it covered all our food costs that day, and we left the market feeling good. We’d met a vendor who had been selling raw vegan frozen blueberry cashew “cheese”cake, but had sold out. Seeing the look of disappointment on Gianna’s face, he assured her there was more at his restaurant, where he would be returning after the market was over. We headed back to our hotel, deposited our bounty of farm fresh foods, snacked lightly, and headed to this raw foods cafe. While I do not generally opt for raw vegan foods, there are certainly some delicious ones, and the presence of a raw foods cafe in a town this small was a good sign. The “cheese”cake was really delicious.

Over the course of our travels we came to identify certain things to look for in a town to make a quick judgment of how well we’d get along there. Is there a raw foods cafe? How many coffee shops? How many late night establishments? How many yoga studios? How much public green space? Despite Taos being completely tiny, it has a raw foods cafe, several coffee shops, several yoga studios, multiple public parks, and countless art studios. It’s a chill-ass mountain town.

Our bellies full, and a smile on our faces, we headed off to find a nice bit of green space to get spaced on a nice bit of green. As we approached the park, the altitude finally started catching up with Gianna. She became flushed, and started to sweat. “I’m gonna throw up!” she exclaimed, and we went into the park, hoping to find a bathroom. Gianna briefly glanced at the toilet shack, realized it was just a hole in the ground full of shit, and decided that was NOT going to help her nausea. Dashing to a tree to lean against, she ejected the cheesecake she had just consumed, along with most of the rest of the day’s food so far. A homeless man came up and sympathetically offered a bagel. “I just need some water and to smoke a fucking bowl. Thank you, though,” she declined. The man chuckled, saying he was going to go do the same. Gianna and I walked over to a nice shady tree, and sat down to accomplish these goals. Just as we were finishing one bowl, who should we see coming in from the far side of the park but our new friend Dayglow. We waved him over, and shared a bowl. He pointed to his house/studio across the street from the park, and invited us to come check it out.

So, we followed him over the low wall surrounding the park, dashed across the street, and walked into a house blasting very loud music, filled with whirligigs and assorted art projects. It was actually a place we’d walked past earlier, musing to ourselves that we bet we could be friends with whoever owned the place. Little did we know, we already were. Dayglow loaded a bowl, while “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” blasted in the background. As we would come to discover, the people of this region of New Mexico really like their weed, unsurprising, since New Mexico is one of 22(I think, at the time of this writing) medical marijuana states.

We were getting kind of hungry, so we decided we would walk back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We walked through the Plaza on the way back, and met some fellow travelers: Jesse and Tessa. Tessa spun poi, and Jesse did wire-wrap jewelry. I ended up trading a little nug for three really pretty pieces of jewelry, one of which currently adorns a dreadlock of mine. Gianna and Tessa did some busking, and ended up making a bit more money. It’s really interesting to be identified as a traveler, as opposed to a tourist. How people treat you is completely different. Tourists are there to make money off of, travelers are worthy of lending a helping hand to. Jesse and Tessa told us about a “rave” type event that was going on at a closed middle eastern restaurant a bit later, and we told them we’d go.

At the farmer’s market, we’d been given a restaurant recommendation for a place called The Love Apple. I looked it up on Yelp as well, and saw that it had received 4.5 stars. Usually a good sign. We suited up, and took the motorcycle, as it was starting to get chilly as the sun went down. We arrived at the somewhat upscale garden cafe, and opted for an inside seat to keep a bit warmer. The place reminded me a lot of East Side Cafe here in Austin. They use only local ingredients, and prepare creative variations on traditional New Mexican fair. We both ate something we’d never heard of before, and it was fantastic. If you don’t want to eat local for the environmental and sustainability reasons, do it because it’s qualitatively more delicious. Food really looses something the longer it takes to get from the ground to your mouth, and local food has a very short trip to make.

Our bellies full, we headed to the party. It was a small event, but the energy was good. Apparently events like this are super rare in Taos, so we got pretty lucky to both be there at the right time, and hear about it. What constitutes the circus community there was out at the party, and it was good to feel at home. Perhaps the most beautiful part of traveling is finding that your family is so much wider than you ever realized. We had already signed on for another night at our hotel, but we were tipped off to a hostel, apparently with tipis, that was nearby.

We went back to the hotel, hazed up the place, and savored a while in the hot running water. Hot showers are such a luxury on camping trips, it’s important to make the most of them. Our heads hit the pillow and we were out.

“Oh, I’m bound to go where there ain’t no snow / Where the rain don’t fall and the wind don’t blow / In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”

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