It was kind of a special day today, as I was able to channel both the “pilgrim” and the “farmer” sides of PFJ. We had noted in our tour through Mesilla yesterday that there are daily Masses offered at 0900. That was an easy accessible time for us to get moved out of the RV park and have a light breakfast and still be able to make Mass and Communion. Since it was abundantly clear that, as Anglos, we are in the distinct minority here, we expected the Mass (Missa, in Espanol) would be in Spanish. It was. Both the sanctuary and the ceremony were so reminiscent of my experiences on the Camino de Santiago that it was truly joyous. I felt like a Pilgrim again.
As a side note, should Pope Francis ever decide to visit tiny little Mesilla, he would have an official and appropriate place to say Mass, as San Albino is, in truth and fact, a Basilica. And I’m thinking our Papa would feel right at home there. And, besides that, no Basilicas exist in the huge city of Las Cruces, just next door.
We had hoped to have a strong cup of South Western coffee after Mass, but were amazed to discover none of the coffee shops opened until 11 a.m.! That little town needs an entrepreneur! The Mass participants alone ( a sizable number, considering it is a daily event), would keep a coffee shop buzzing.
Yesterday’s difficult ride was now only a past-tense experience, and we planned today’s route to cover the normal 65 – 70 miles. There were a couple of possibilities, and Cathy would be scouting them out and relaying the camp location to me.
Now for the “farmer” part: I mentioned the pecan orchards in yesterday’s blog. More of them appeared during the ride today as well. We couldn’t resist buying several varieties in the very old building on the Mesilla Plaza. I can now attest, they are ALL delicious. Sorry kids, none of these will make it home 🙂
But, in addition to the nut crops, there are an amazing variety of other crops that apparently thrive in this incredibly heavy clay soil, if only they have adequate water. Onion fields were still numerous, as well as field corn,rice, cotton, “leaf crops” such as kale and lettuce, and chili peppers. More chili peppers of more varieties than you could imagine.
The harvest of the peppers is a multi step process. Apparently, (and this does depend on the variety and the explainers English wasn’t that good and my Spanish was worse) the longer the ripened peppers hang on the vine, the hotter they get. So the first “picking” is mechanical and these are used for the salsas, liquid hot sauces, and other uses that process the pepper.
Later pickings, by hand, keep the pepper whole and are marketed that way.
I later rode by a pepper processing plant and would loved to have seen its workings, but there was no opportunity for that. And it was “down wind” so I couldn’t even experience the aromas coming from it. Maybe that was a good thing.
Another farmer note, since I’m on a roll, it appears John Deere has a complete lock on all the big, modern tractors in this part of the world. They are literally the only brand I see working these huge irrigated fields. And this soil looks like such an absolute bear to work with.
Last thing farmer-ish, I promise. What few billboards we now see advertising lawyers feature “Water Law Expertise”, as opposed to suing the “big rig” companies for auto injuries. More on this in another post, as it’s an amazingly complicated issue for this whole corner of the world we’re going to be in for another month or so.
Even with the very bright sun all day, the air mass here has kept things quite cool. I ride in a t-shirt all day and am fine for comfort, but as soon as the riding stops, I get very cool very quickly.
Cathy found a state park on the banks of the Rio Grande, but the Rio isn’t really what you would call a “river” here. There is a dam, but nothing but a small puddle dribbling through it. She felt sorry for the large fish she saw in the shallow pool below the dam, jumping into the air but unable to swim any further downstream because of large rocks across the streambed blocking the minuscule flow. On the bright side, a trail along the river yielded another “life list” addition, a gila woodpecker. Hip, hip, Hooray! And also both a pyruloxia and a phainopepla. Yes, those are both bird names! A good day!
Cool Pilgrim Farmer John
We prayed for all of YOU today at Mass 🙂
Thanks for coming along.