Three years age 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 26, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.
You can read about the 2020 Matanza in the Albuquerque Journal – January 26, 2020.
The 2021 Matanza has been cancelled according to the Albuquerque Journal – January 19, 2021. We will have to wait until next year for this event as well as for a lot of other interesting celebrations in New Mexico.
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.
For instructions see the Weekly Alibi
LAS VEGAS, NM – 30 HOURS
After 6 months of Covid 19, and in anticipation of at least another. 6 months, we decided that we had to learn to live with it. Retired, we pretty much live a quiet life; however, travel plans have been interrupted, including a Family Alaska Cruise and a a cruise to the Caribbean. Alaska was cancelled, the Caribbean was reset for March 2021 and was then cancelled as Viking cancelled all cruises until at least March 31, 2021. We are betting on being able to go in June with our 125% deal, especially since the vaccines have arrived and being in the over 80 category, we expect to be high on the list.
We have mastered shopping, eating out on outdoor patios, exercise in small numbers at the YMCA and having friends over for outdoor drinks and dinners.
We have not been able to master travel, given our ages, 78 and 80 and various state and international restrictions. There is also a fear of flying.
So, we decided on a short train trip. Albuquerque to Las Vegas, NM is about 3 hours on Amtrak. Las Vegas has a renovated Harvey House Hotel, Castenada, next to the tracks, as well as an earlier one in Winslow, AZ which we have stayed at.
Train 4 was only 20% booked when I got tickets, $15 apiece each way. Leave at 11:45 and arrive about 3.
Castenada had rooms available for $130 including tax etc. and they claimed that they let a day lapse between guests and that the rooms were super clean. The restaurant was closed, but from Wed. Through Sat , 3-8 you could eat on the patio, first come, first served. A limited menu but it looks good.
No breakfast, but the hotel said that the Spic and Spam was just 3 blocks away. We have eaten there and they have great Mexican Food. The place also has an automatic Tortilla making machine which cranks out fresh tortillas.
We were still nervous, so we have gloves, masks, 90% alcohol handi wipes, and water proof pillow case covers, $25 from Amason. We could have gotten disposable hazmat but enough is enough is enough.
You have to balance the risk’s of Covid 19 with going crazy; and at 80 the choice was easy. Crazy is not my thing; caution is ok.
Fortunately, we can park in a city garage a block from the Amtrak station. We have had one Covid 19 test which came back negative, but that was a month ago. Since the trip we have had two more tests, both of which were negative. The tests were drive through and waiting in line took about two hours.
Before taking the trip, we considered what could go wrong.
If we are denied boarding on the train because of symptoms, no problem; we go home and are out $130 for the hotel. If we get toLas Vegas NM, and the hotel won’t let us in because of symptoms, or if the return Amtrak won’t let us on board, what do we do?
There seems to be only one bus a day, at the wrong time. Even if we could get to Santa Fe, The RailRnner is not running, and buses may be risky. Where do we spend the night. Car rentals seem to be non-existent in Las Vegas
It all worked out well. The trip was worth it and we are trying to think how we could do another.
In July, 2019, I took a walking tour of downtown Albuquerque, NM led by one of 14 volunteers of the Albuquerque Historical Society. The tour lasted 2 hours and covered “new town” Albuquerque and focused on buildings and stories along a 10 block length of Central Ave. (formerly Railroad Avenue)
The tour was primarily of buildings built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Janet, the tour guide was well informed, and had a notebook of historical photos. Fifteen buildings were singled out as unique in some way.
The tour starts at the site of the old Alvardo hotel, destroyed in the 1960’s and then rebuilt decades later as a transportation center for Amtrak, the RailRunner, and local and national busses.
The city tickets you for parking on Saturday on the street, so use a parking lot to avoid a $20 ticket.
A highlht of the trip is Conrad Hilton’s fourth Hotel, constructed in 1939. Hilton was born in nearby San Antonio, New Mexico.
Google Walking and the name of the city that you are visiting. Look for “free.” Check out the local historical society for information on tours and lectures.
Walking tours are, good for exercise, for meeting new people, and for keeping your old mind active.
You can find them in virtually any large city in the world.
See tripadvisor.com for walking tour ideas. Search Albuquerque, or the name of any town.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
If you visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, a visit to Tesuque Glass Works will provide an interesting experience; perhaps even better than the tours of the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York, since at Tesuque, you are closer to the action.
You can watch expert glass blowers turning out works of art, which are for sale.
If you arrange for it in advance, you can also take classes and blow your own creation. For classes contact:
The Wheels Museum at the Rail Yards Market in Albuquerque is a must for railroad buffs and for anyone who wants to remember back to a simpler, younger age.
The volunteers who staff the museum are knowledgeable and helpful. They like what they are doing.
If you like model trains, there are several large layouts including one from the Clovis Model railroad club. There are a number of cars, trucks and various pieces of train equipment
I liked the horse drawn milk wagon as it reminded me of my childhood in Kansas where the milk was delivered to a box at your back door and the horse knew all the stops.
The museum is located in an old railroad storage building and is next to what used to be the only roundhouse between St. Louis and California and where they repaired engines. The old roundhouse is still in existence, empty, huge and now used for movie sets and for a weekly market. Rumor has it that it may be sold to CNM and used for film courses.
Next to the long abandoned train buildings are the tracks where there is a daily Amtrak train in each direction and numerous freight trains.
You can catch the RailRunner to Santa Fe or to Belen 7 days a week. It is free for seniors on Wednesday, but parking downtown is a pain. Better to park at the Montaño station and catch the train there.
If you like the Wheels Museum, you should also visit the 17 year restoration of Santa Fe Steam Locomotive # 2926 by the New Mexico Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society. You can visit on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1833 8th NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Or, check them out on-line at nmslrhs.org.
New Mexico is a fascinating place for train buffs, and if you are here during the State Fair, there is a great model train exhibit, put on by the Rio Grande Valley HO Model Railroad. In 2019, it is from September 5 – 15.
On Sundays from 9-3, May 4 – Nov. 2, you can visit the Rail Yards Market near downtown Albuquerque, NM. The site is next to the tracks and is in a huge old Santa Fe Railway repair shop. The market has over one hundred vendors and artists. It draws thousands of people. Outside there is plenty of free parking and a line of food trucks.
Inside, which is free, you find artists, bakeries, local produce, music and crowds. Turn down your hearing aid.
Rail buffs, and most other people, especially those of us who can remember riding the train to college, will be fascinated by the interior of the Santa Fe Railway Repair Shop, now abandoned, waiting a new life, and used as the setting for a number of movies.
To learn more about the rail yards visit the City of Albuquerque web page.
Maybe you are looking for a second career in your retirement. Central New Mexico Community College in conjunction with the Street Food Institute offers a course in “Street Food.” Maybe you should apply. Visit Craigs List to find food trucks for sale.
The bottom line is that for a few hours on Sunday morning, you can’t go wrong, and you will see a part of American History. Drive through the surrounding streets and see “new town,” which came into being with the arrival of the rail road over a hundred years ago. Then compare it to “Old Town.”
The 36th annual Gathering of Nations.
This event, bringing together thousands of Indians from 750 American and Canadian tribes was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 25, 26 and 27, 2019.
The annual event was held in Tingley Colosseum on the NM State Fair Grounds. All 11,571 seats were filled on the day I went. It included the Miss. Indian America Contest as well as several days of competitive dancing.
The costumes, made by the 3000 singers and dancers, are the highlight of the event. Dancing is a traditional part of the Indian Culture and not to be missed.
The Albuquerque Journal in its “Coming Together” story describes the event in detail with pictures.
The cost in 2019 was $19 per person and $10 to park. At noon, when the dancing starts, there are long lines and they only accept cash. You are better off getting you tickets on-line. Just go to gatheringof nations.com.
REMEMBER, if you are old, take care as there are dirt paths, and once inside Tingley Colesseum, huge crowds, subdued lighting and the possibility of a fall is always present.
It is worth it just to see the costumes and the Indian Families. The 2020 dates are April 23, 24 & 25.
You can buy Indian jewelry and crafts from hundreds of native craftsmen and women.
You can also buy food, some traditional, and some from the usual assortment of State Fair type vendors.
If you do eat, try the fry bread and the Indian Tacos.
While the fry bread was good, it doesn’t compare to the fry bread that you buy on the side of the road in NorthWestern New Mexico.
On a Rick Steves’ tour to Ireland a few years ago, we visited a working sheep ranch and watched the dogs herd flocks of sheep following whistled commands from the sheep herder.
The Kissane Sheep Farm is located in Moll’s Gap, Kenmare, County Ireland, Ireland. It is 7 Euros for an adult to watch the dogs and the shearers in action. You can also adopt a sheep, but if you want to take it home, you have to buy it and put up with an enormous amount of red tape. Better to adopt one in the name of a grandchild.
In addition we were able to watch expert shearers shear one of the sheep:
I like Rick Steves’ tours because they always include something new; something beyond museums and restaurants; and, something that I know nothing about. I wanted to replicate the experience when I returned to New Mexico.
Searching in my own backyard, I discovered the New Mexico Herding Dog Association and on Saturday, May 13, 2017 we went to one of its events on the New Mexico State Fair Grounds.
This was the herding instinct test in which herding dogs, as classified by the American Kennel Club, and which have no experience with sheep, are tested to see if they like sheep, with three sheep. Mixed results. A fascinating new sub-culture to me, and one close to home.
A variety of breeds tried to maneuver three sheep while their owners urged them on. At first the dogs didn’t do much, but after watching the owners race about herding the sheep, the dogs got the idea, and tried it themselves.
About 40 sheep were kept in pens and were maneuvered about by a trained sheep dog which efficiently moved them from pen to pen and then into the arena where the test took place. The trained dog then sat quietly and watched from an adjoining arena.
The next step is to visit the FTB Ranch in Mountainair, NM and watch more events.
If interested you can search for events in your state on Google.
Search terms: State+herding dogs
ie Utah+herding dogs
In Albuquerque, NM I visited the 2926 Restoration Project. The New Mexico Steam locomotive and Railroad Historical Society is restoring a steam engine that hit the tracks on May 17, 1944. It travelled 1,090,539 miles. It is being completely restored by volunteers and will be put back into service for excursions soon, we hope.
You can visit the restoration project on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1833 8th NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the members will give you a tour and explain what the restoration.
It is close to Old Town and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Try Cafe Azul for the best huevos rancheros with Hatch green chile – get the papitas, not the hash browns. BUT: the hot Hatch green chile may take you way out of your comfort zone. Remember you can always have it on the side.
In September there is always the model railroad exhibit at the state Fair. If you like New Mexico trains, ride the Amtrak, the Railrunner, and the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gage. At Christmas, take the Cumbres and Toltec through the snow.
You can see a video showing the history and restoration of 2926 on You Tube.