September 6 - 7
In our journey back east we turned west to check out a few sites west of Albuquerque. The first of these was El Morro, a National Monument that was significant in the trade routes through the area. It is here that a pool of water sat as an oasis for the people who lived here and the Spanish travellers to rest at.
The pool sits at the base of a mesa, El Morro, also called Inscription Rock, so named for all the inscriptions found around the walls. These inscriptions range from petroglyphs carved by the Pueblo Indians who lived here from 1000AD to around 1400AD to the names of Spanish explorers who started coming through this area in 1605. There are names of more recent visitors as well up until the early 1900’s.
El Morro was the home to a community of Pueblo Indians who lived on top of the mesa in 875 connected multi storied rooms. Sections of the pueblo have been unearthed and are open to see.
Our day at El Morro ended with another wonderful sunset followed by a spectacular light show from the heavens. The clear skies out here allow for a star show that must be seen to be believed and worth getting out of bed at 3am for.
An early morning drive had us ready to check out an ice cave and the remnants of a volcano at close quarters. This area is described as being like the moon’s surface with volcanic rock forming the greater part of the landscape.
There are 29 volcanos in this area and the one we walked to is Bandera Volcano, 1400ft wide and 800ft deep. The lava flow from this eruption extends 23 miles. It’s quite interesting to stand on the rim of a volcano and see the life and plant growth happening around it.
The other interesting feature here is the ice cave. Here rain and snow melt have frozen over 3400 years and remain permanently frozen as the temperature in the cave never gets above 31F. The ice is 20ft thick and the cave was at one stage the source of ice for locals to keep things cold before refrigeration. All very fascinating…
Our other adventure today was to the Acoma Pueblo which has been the home for the Acoma people for 2000 years. The pueblo sits on top of a mesa 370ft above the desert floor and has over 300 buildings made of mud bricks and sandstone. Another interesting fact is that the houses are owned by the women and are passed onto the daughters in the family.
This pueblo has been the setting for many western movies featuring stars such as Henry Fonda and John Wayne. It’s amazing that they could film anything up here as there is no electricity so they would have had to run very long power cables from somewhere to make everything work.
It’s fascinating to see how these people lived and also very sad to hear how they were forced to live under Spanish rule for many years until all the pueblos joined forces to revolt against Spanish laws. Despite the forced move to accept Catholicism they still found ways to live their own culture and worship their own religion.
Part of their culture is making hand making pottery and painting it in their own distinct style and colours. There is a skill and art in doing this and selling the pottery is a major source of income for the family. Another way to increase their income is to mass produce ceramic pottery which is less time consuming and cheaper so they increase the profit margin. Still original and genuine Acoma pottery, just not what you think it is. Smart people the Acoma, don’t get caught out…