18th ANNUAL BELEN MATANZA – BELEN, NM – Jan 27, 2018

Last year I attended the Matanza in Belen, NM where I ate my fill of roasted whole hog, beans, chile, and tortillas. This year it is scheduled for January 27, 2018 from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.

Matanzas involve roasting a whole pig overnight in a pit dug in the ground. It is a celebration for all your family and friends. It involves a lot of home-made food and too much drinking. The first one I attended was when I came to Albuquerque over 50 years ago and was held on Thanksgiving Day. Lou had obtained a 300 pound hog and the night before it was placed in a pit in his backyard, wrapped in wet burlap, and laid on top of a huge bed of coals. The hog was then covered with coals  and dirt and left to roast for twelve hours.

It was hoisted out of the pit, unwrapped, and the meat fell off the bones. More beer, pinto beans, tortillas, salad and pork made the Thanksgiving Dinner one that I remember to this day.

The one in Belen is more organized, raising money for charity. It costs $15 and is preceded by judges determining who made the best red chile, pork, tortillas and chicharrones. There are long lines and no shortage of beer. It is best to come early.

You can read about the “World’s Largest Matanza” in the January 2018 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The article, “Whole Hog” by Gwyneth Doland is worth reading. The article also contains recipes if you want to create your own Matanza, and tells you where to buy a whole hog. Go for it.

The 2017 Belen Matanza was the first I attended:

Tortilla, pork, beans, potatoes, red chile and biscochitos



Cutting the meat.


For instructions see the Weekly Alibi

Cornucopia Matanza

World’s Largest Matanza

The 2017 Matanza in Valencia County, NM



MOE’S BARBECUE – Asheville, NC – An “authentic” Southern BBQ, that has expanded to Albuquerque!

When we travel, we try to seek out non-chain places to eat; and, our recent trip to see our son in Waynesville, NC, led us to MOE’s Barbecue in Asheville, NC, for the third time. It is in an old building, near the Biltmore Mansion, with a large gravel parking lot and is always crowded. There are only about 20 tables inside, you order from the counter, and they call out your name when the food is ready. It has always been good, simple and tasty. You bus your own tables.

This time we shared a brisket sandwich with two sides and a drink. Our son had the rib plate with two sides and a drink.  We had to wait for a table and borrowed two chairs for our table. It was out of our comfort zone, but we were with our son who knew of the place and he had taken me there before when I visited.

Ribs with 2 sides at Moe’s in Asheville, NC

As usual, I took a few pictures, enjoyed the food and the crowd and thought it would be a good subject for a brief blog post. After lunch,  I  googled Moe’s Barbecue and much to my surprise discovered that even though Asheville is apparently the original Moe’s, it has expanded. The three boys from the University of Alabama, have expanded this Moe’s to  60 Moe’s around the country, including one in Albuquerque that I was not aware of. So, next week, I will start off the new year by eating at Moe’s in Albuquerque, aware that it is a big business that came out of North Carolina.

You can become a franchisee; the franchise office is in Vail, Colorado; or, you can just order a t-shirt and a hat from the retail site.

I will continue seeking  out places out of my comfort zone, but will also check them out.

Trust but verify!

Just because it is a chain, does not mean that it is not good. And, of course, I satisfied myself at the meals there, thinking I was out of my comfort zone, not realizing that there was a Moe’s just a few blocks from me in Albuquerque.


LOST DRIVER’S LICENSE – What is an old person to do? Rental Car? Flight ID?

I was headed for North Carolina to visit my son for Christmas. At the Albuquerque Sunport, I went through the TSA Pre line since I had qualified for Global Entry. No problem with my carry-on, but I triggered the security devices several times with my belt, keys, hearing aid batteries, etc. resulting in placing the items in a small plastic bowl. I had not returned my driver’s license to my wallet and laid it on top of the other items in the bowl.

When I got to the hotel in Charlotte, NC, they wanted an ID. I discovered that I did not have my driver’s license; however, the hotel desk clerk, looked at me and waived that requirement, and allowed me to check in. But, I did not have a driver’s license and I had to pick up a rental car the next morning. The evening was spent awake and sorting though every item I travelled with.

The next morning, after searching my belongings in detail, I googled Albuquerque Sunport lost and found. One of the four choices was a phone number for TSA. I called; the license had been turned in late the prior night, The TSA rep. was great. She said that they could FedEx it to me; took my information, credit card number, and the address of the Waynesville Bed and Breakfast where we would be staying.

I wrote down the tracking number she gave me and we headed to the rental car counter. They accepted my wife’s driver’s license and we rented a car.

The next day about 3:00, after tracking my credit card through Memphis, Ashville and Waynesville, it arrived at our Bed and Breakfast. I carefully put it in my wallet; and checked my wallet every few hours.

The FedEx envelope with my driver’s license.


Things I learned from my experience and a bit of research:

  1. Watch your identification documents.
  2. Carry your Global Entry Card with you; it can be used for identification at the airport.
  3. Get a police report for lost driver’s licenses.
  4. In NM you can get a temporary license for a lost license on-line if you are under 75 and don’t have any other problems; with me the problem was the age. I missed the 75 cut-off at 77.
  5. Google: “name of airport” + “lost and found.”
  6. Have someone with you who has a valid driver’s license.
  7. Driving without a driver’s license in your possession is a crime, may lead to your arrest and may cause increase in insurance rates.
  8. Have as much documentation as possible to show that you have a license, ie police report, photocopy, insurance card, etc. Have info on your cell phone and you may be able to talk your way out of it.

The big problem will be the car rental company; so, be a member of their frequent renter group, have another driver with you, and  talk to a manager.

Since you are old anyway, it is a good time to rethink alternative forms of transportation.

Public, Uber, friend, spouse, etc.



TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, NEW MEXICO – the journey, not the goal, is the goal!

Several times a year we drive the 450 miles from Albuquerque, NM to Tucson, AZ to see our grandchildren. The trip takes about 7 1/2 hours, but since we are retired and have extra time, we  explore along the way. In old age, you come to realize that the trip may be as important as the goal.

Between Albuquerque and Tucson, you can find a number of interesting things all in New Mexico and all just off I-25: the Very Large Array Telescopes near Socorro, NM, the Hatch Chile Festival and Sparky’s,  SpacePort America, Elephant Butte Lake, and, usually an overnight stop at the Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa, owned by Ted Turner which in addition to providing an interesting Lodge, also provides tours of Ted Turner’s nearby ranches.

Since I originally wrote this, Spaceport America has restarted tours.

The lobby at Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Fire truck at Spaceport America.

In our 70’s the Sierra Grande Lodge gets us out of our comfort zone, which is good, if at times unnerving. I haven’t had bison in 63 years, when I had it at Philmont Scout Ranch, at the end of a 37 day trek at age 14. The restaurant serves bison burgers, bison rib-eye, and if you just want to test the water, 4 ounces of bison steak in a great pasta dish. You can eat indoors or out; the patio is great:

Animas Creek Pasta With Bison


Outdoor Patio – Restaurant at Sierra Grande Lodge.

The Lodge, like many other places in T or C has it’s own hot springs. There are indoor spas and an outdoor one. The naturally  hot water has made T or C a destination for a thousand years. It used to be called Hot Springs, NM until it won a 1950 radio show contest hosted by  Ralph Edwards, and changed its name.

We like the outdoor spa; private but open to the stars. In our 70’s we are out of our comfort zone for nude bathing; and it may even be pornographic, but a half-hour soak removes a lot of age-related soreness and is included in the price of your room.


Outdoor Hot Springs Spa at Sierra Grande Lodge, Truth or Consequences, NM


Outdoor hot springs spa as Sierra Grande Lodge.

Next time you travel to see your grandkids, look around you, take your time, and try to get out of your “old” comfort zone. You may learn something new.

The point is; especially at your age, you should be interested in the journey, not the END of the journey.






I went to Panama on a Road Scholar trip. The trip includes tours of Panama City, a boat trip through the Panama Canal, and a train ride back, a chance to see how the new locks work and the chance to experience Panama. There are 10 things that made my trip easier. Fifty-five years ago, when hitchhiking through Europe, I had no money, few needs, and a lot of self-assurance. Today, at 77 I am a bit more careful, not looking for surprises, and aware of my age. So…

  1. No tips. Road Scholar is all-inclusive except for a few meals. I hate to worry  about tipping.
  2. Health care. Get insurance. The real problem will be if you have to be shipped home; dead or alive. The cost for transferring your sick body  back to the US can be debilitating, and may bankrupt you. If you do decide to permanently leave while abroad, consider cremation. Consider the insurance offered by the program and also look to your credit card.
  3. Get the American Embassy contact information. Know if there are any problems and know where to go for help.
  4. Take a Kindle or better an i-pad with kindle books downloaded on it. You can also adjust the size of the type. Books are heavy and a thousand plus books, including guide books, can be uploaded on a Kindle and new books ordered from your library or from Amazon while abroad.  You are too old to be lifting books.
  5. Check your debit and credit cards and notify the card companies before you leave. You don’t want them denying your charges.
  6. Take two money belts. One from Eagle Creek to hold your pants up and to hold your money; and one to hold your passports, information, money and credit cards.
  7. Think simple and minimal. Jeans are usually fine. Wear them and take a light weight pair of pants that you can wash and use if you have to dress up. See what Road Scholar suggests. Suitcase. Rick Steves’ Rolling Carry-on.
  8. Wear walking shoes. Take yoga shoes/slippers for the hotel, etc.
  9. Light weight underwear that can be washed, or dropped off at a cleaners for a few bucks.
  10. Know a few practical things about Panama. They use dollars, have ATMs, English spoken in addition to Spanish, no visa required, jeans are fine.

You can really reduce your needs by packing like the  geezer does for the beach.


LIBRARIES – 8 things for the older (and other) traveller

Every town has a library. When you travel, a library can be your best friend. You can find:

  1. Information about the town you are in.
  2. Wi-Fi
  3. A bookstore that will sell books that the library no longer wants or which have been donated for as little as $1 for hardback and 25 cents for paperbacks, many of them recent best-sellers.
  4. Frequently they have cafes where you can get a coffee and food.
  5. They have computers that you can use.
  6. They have interesting programs and sometime trips for anyone who is interested.
  7. Local and national magazines; see what is going on in town and read the NY  Times and the Wall Street Journal.
  8. And, finally there is a huge magazine rack with the latest magazines; most of which you don’t get, and which take you out of your comfort zone.


Prison may be an alternative to life on the street for old people.

A photo of where the geezer might spend his last years. Better than the street???

The geezer asks for admission to the Federal Prison system.

The geezer seeks bank support for admission to the Federal Prison system.













In the US there are 26,200 prisoners over 65 in state and federal prisons and 124,400 over the age of 55.

The geezer, who is 75, and an “opportunist” is thinking outside the box; or perhaps ‘inside the box.” If I have no money, little social security, no home, no assets, no family; and  have to line up at the soup kitchen for meals and the free street clinic for medical care, maybe there is another way.

At 75, what do I need? My sex life is a thing of the past; there is no one to take care of me, I am frequently wet and cold; I am regularly exposed to every type of riffraff; and, can no longer fight off street predators.  How can I  live out my days in some comfort, be warm, eat regularly, and have  adequate medical and dental care?

The answer is to rob a bank.

The sentence seems to be 10 years plus an extra 5 years if you have a gun. I need to check to see if the gun has to be loaded; wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. The 15 years takes me to 90 which is about my  life expectancy  on a good day and I don’t have to0 many of  them. If I got in a fight or two,  I can avoid good time.

The big problem is that I might get probation since I don’t have a record; so, I might have to rob the same bank twice; or, even three times.

Given the economic and social future of the elderly, prison doesn’t sound too bad; and, it can’t be worse than a nursing home; even if I qualified. If you can’t pay, Medicaid is the only answer. Assisted living is out of the question without money or long-term care insurance.

There is probably a downside, but I am having trouble seeing it.

The food can’t be worse than most senior institutions. If I have a room(cell)mate, he would probably be about my age. I would probably be in some sort of minimum security facility, but, given the gun I might be in a maximum security facility.  The friends I would make would probably be better than the ones on the street.

Would I be safe? Probably. I am sure that most Federal Prisons take care of old people; albeit, reluctantly. There are work programs in most institutions and perhaps I could care for other old people if I couldn’t get assigned to the library. Win-win.

The New York Times has an article on California state prisons that have caregivers called ” gold coats.” These are inmates, usually murderers, who in exchange for a “gold coat,” and other privileges, look after the elderly; especially those with dementia. They protect them from the other prisoners, get them food, make sure they don’t fall; and, in general act as highly trained caregivers. They sound better than some in nursing homes I have visited.

Do I want to go this route? I suppose it depends on how cold and hungry I get; and, if I am competent to rob a bank when the time comes.

Or, maybe it would just be cheaper and better to move all of us old prisoners and “Gold Coats” to the “abandoned” military bases where they are keeping illegal immigrants.




AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE FOR SENIORS – I got my license 63 years ago and no one is going to tell me how to drive!

The AARP Smart Driver Course, is worth the time and money. You can’t not afford to take it, and you aren’t doing anything but watching TV any way.



The course is available on-line and at various centers around the country. GOOGLE: “AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE.”

I just took it on-line. It took me four hours and I had two months to complete it; however, I did it in one afternoon. The reasons I took it are:

  1. Cheap – I got a deal and only paid $19.95 for the course.
  2. Update – It is 63 years since I got my license and a few things have changed; especially the way they mark the streets.
  3. Reminders – After 63 years (and 3 years since I took the classroom course) I need to have my mind refreshed; especially where my life and the lives of others are at stake.
  4. Insurance discount –  this varies by state and insurance company, but I expect at least 5%.
  5. Not taking the course may work against you. The insurance company knows how old I am, and as much data as they collect, I am sure that they note whether or not I have taken the course. I have nothing to base this on, but then I may be paranoid about companies collecting information on me.
  6. Makes you aware that you are not alone in the way you drive at 77; and gives you some techniques to use. I especially liked turning left by going around the block in right-hand turns. The parcel delivery companies have discovered that they save a lot on gas and accidents by programming right turns for their drivers whenever they can.
  7. What insurance companies consider. It is always good to know. In New Mexico   one insurance company considers a number of things, that as an old person you should at least be aware of.
  8. Medicine and booze. The course talks about the effect of liquor, as little as one drink, and its effect when taken with medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. Remember, you are old, you probably take a number of pills and your body may not react to them in the same way as it did 50 years ago.
  9. Physical and mental problems. The course reminds you of them, as if you weren’t aware already. You don’t want to be picked up for drunk driving when you can’t  walk a straight line when sober at age 77. You don’t want your picture in the Albuquerque Journal at the end of the month as a convicted drunk driver.
  10. I tell people I took the course. It may head off attempts to  take your license and your car. I received positive feedback and questions from other old people that I told about the course; so, I am telling you about it.

The course is designed so you have to watch everything and give feed-back before moving to the next segment. You can’t just click through it in a few minutes and get your certificate.



Death on an international trip.

Death on an international trip. Coffins can frequently be bought at a flea market.

Old people are afraid of dying while on an international trip. Most are afraid of dying period; however, 99% of people die at some point, and once you reach 75 you are more aware of the probability that you will die; especially if you are going overseas.

Basically to make things easier, you need a 3 x 5 card:

  • Embassy telephone number
  • Insurance policy – Company and policy number.
  • Airline and confirmation number.
  • Emergency contact number.
  • Home town physician and number.
  • Hotel name and number.
  • Family telephone numbers.
  • Home town funeral home number.
  • Tour operator number.
  • Simple statement as to wishes. Cremate, ship home, bury abroad…etc.
  • Travel insurance name, telephone and policy number.
  • US Embassy number.
  1. The simple solution for your representative or next of kin:
    1. Travel insurance to pay  for shipment of body, cremains.
    2. Contact the American Embassy where you are. They have a 24 hour number.
    3. Contact Funeral home in your home town.
    4. Carry on cremains in a sealed,  TSA approved, container.
    5. Have foreign mortuary ship body to your home-town mortuary.
    6. Collect belongings
    7. Get copies of all paperwork –  Embassy, police, doctors, hospitals, funeral homes, airlines, autopsy report, etc
    8. Notify: Embassy, family, police, funeral home,

    Remember that what is a unique and terrible experience for you is  a common event for the embassy, the funeral homes and the airlines.


Some useful web pages:

  1. Cremation, burial, shipment home.
  2. Embassy
  3. American Air Lines
  4. TSA





ACOMA SKY CITY – a simple life that has endured for a thousand years


On Saturday, May 14, 2016 I visited Acoma Pueblo Sky City located 370 feet above the desert on a mesa 65 miles West of Albuquerque, NM. It has fewer than 50 permanent residents living in  homes on seven acres of New Mexico mesa top.

Sky City Catholic Church

Catholic Church on top of Acoma Pueblo mesa. Sky City.

San Esteban del Rey Mission dominates Sky City. Established in the early 1600’s, it now has no priest. A service is held yearly on September 2 and is open to the public. The church was started in 1629 and completed in 1640.

There is a still-used cemetery in front of the church, with burials in dirt hauled up from the desert floor. The church’s is  150 feet by 40 feet and has a dirt floor. It is simple inside and is undergoing some reconstruction, but is still 95% original.

The streets in Sky City are dirt. At intersections cisterns  collect rain water. There are no utilities. No water, sewage, gas or electricity. There are some generators and port-a-potties everywhere. They were installing a huge water tank on Saturday, so the water problem may be alleviated.


Water Cistern at Acoma Pueblo

Cistern to collect water at Acoma Pueblo, Sky City.


Commercial port-a-potties have replaced the outhouses  suspended over the edge of the mesa that I remember from 40 years ago.

Until the 1920’s there was no road to Sky City, just a single-file path cut into the steep side, which made it easy to defend. A movie company agreed to put in a dirt road in exchange for the right to film. In the 1950’s a second movie company paved the road. Today it is used for busses and on the week-ends for residents cars and trucks as they work on their houses.

The Acomas are matrilineal  and the homes in Sky City are owned by female tribe members.  The youngest daughter inherits. They cannot be sold. Non-Acomas cannot stay overnight and of course there is no Airbnb.


Road to top of mesa at Sky City, Acoma Pueblo

Road to top of Sky City, Acoma Pueblo.

The residences are from one to three stories, and usually reached by means of ladders.

Each family is responsible for their own repairs and the only restriction is maintaining the earth colors, so in repairing the homes, concrete block, insulation and modern roofing is used.

Traditional Food can be had in the cafe at the visitor center.

Fifteen miles away, on I-40, is the Sky City Casino owned by the tribe and which provides income and tourists. The Casino has a hotel and an RV Center.

At the visitor center you buy your tickets, visit the museum and gift shop and eat at the restaurant.

You board a small bus and make about a 10 minute trip to the top with an articulate and knowledgeable guide. You can also walk up and down, but… remember your age.


Aroma Pueblo, Sky City

Residence at Sky City.




  1. Tours: daily on the half-hour
  2. Location – 65 miles west of Albuquerque, NM, off of I-40.
  3. Hours: 9 – 5
  4. Cost – $20 for seniors
  5. Casino and Hotel –Sky City Casino Hotel
  6. Bus to top-  Small bus
  7. Pottery- see museum and tables set up by residents.
  8. Toilets – Nice at Center on desert floor, port-a-potties on the mesa
  9. Museum – small but impressive – lots of excellent pottery


  1. The streets are dirt and rough. You can fall.
  2. Hot in the summer. Take a hat and water. Buy a bottle from tables
  3. Toilets are port-a-potties.
  4. Senior rate is $20.
  5. Senior Centers have tours at various times of the year – check bulletin boards and senior magazines at centers.
  6. There is an RV park next to the Casino.


  1. Never forget local Senior Centers. In Albuquerque, the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, has a trip to Sky City Cultural Center $ Haaku Museum on May 25, 2016. Depart at 8:00 am – return at 5:00 pm. $9.50 for transportation and $20 admission.
  2. See the ABQ 50+ Activities Catalog.
  3. Sky City Cultural Center.
  4. New Mexico True