Are you a Travel Bug?

That’s where I am right now–the Travel Bug in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  They sell travel information, maps, guides, etc., and they are also a coffee shop.
I left the International Hostel here yesterday to stay two nights in a home part way up a canyon road, Alameda.
It’s even closer to downtown Santa Fe and the Plaza area than the hostel (itself an easy ride by city bus #2).
The new location is just two blocks to town via the main creekside walking path along Alameda. 
Today, I walked along Canyon Road, roughly parallel to Alameda–an artists’ way of gallery after gallery.  There are galleries of Russian art (more than one!), Indian art, Santa Fe art, contemporary art, etc.
My host, Joel, has only lived in Santa Fe three years.  After coming for a visit, he stayed, he says, for the “magic” of Santa Fe.  He’s currently preparing to enter nursing school while working as a caretaker with elderly people. And also, as it sometimes happens, caring for their pets. 
Last night, I met sweet Rosie, a six year old dog who belongs to one of his clients who’s also a neighbor, a 90+ year old woman. Rosie gets to visit at Joel’s house sometimes.  Rosie, the dog, had been overweight and had a liver problem when she and Joel first met. Now, she’s all well and good, thanks to Joel’s efforts and attentions.  So, he has healing ways both with people and their pets.
Yesterday, I took lots of photos in the downtown area of Santa Fe.
Heading back to the main bus stop, I saw an unusual exhibit of about 25 or so large, silver-gray metallic fish, heads and parts of their bodies “planted” as if leaping at angles from the sand-ocean in a circular arrangement on the City Hall grounds. 
I managed to take several photos of the late sunlight gleaming on their metallic bodies.
I also visited an installation across the street in a small corner storefront.  A young woman inside was watering a “lawn” of instant grass (a bit like “chia” pet grass).  The grassy plot also contained two cut-out cardboard figures of people covered with black-and-white photos–one figure sat on a bench; the other stood on the indoor lawn–against a backdrop wall collage of yet more black-and-white photos, all by the artist, Sarah Beckstrom.
The cut-out figures, together with the backdrop photo collage scenes, reminded me of those eye-puzzles that “pop” off the page into 3-D if you look at them just right–foreground clarity dims while you allow peripheral vision to dominate.
The artist is Sarah Beckstrom at

Her installation in Santa Fe is called “Fertile Ground.”
I especially enjoyed some needed alone time during daytimes here so far. I took the opportunity of my host being away yesterday to lie down on the couch during a rain shower and, eventually, nap.
Days in Santa Fe have been partly sunny, partly cloudy, and partly rainy.  Beautiful skies, wonderful cloud formations, many many skyward “photo ops.”
Alone time–now, that’s something that can easily be missed in the communal atmosphere of hostels, where dorm rooms often house 2-4 or even up to 8 people or more.
Still, it was fun when all four Texans-in-residence who just happened to be at the Santa Fe International Hostel at the same time got together in the kitchen one night. A small Texas-fest ensued, along with discussion of the heat and the fires.
A whole college-level class of students plus teacher-mentors were also spending an entire semester staying at the hostel, so it was a busy place.
Back in Albuquerque, I’d had a room and, later, a whole section of two rooms at the back off the kitchen, to myself. In Santa Fe, I shared a room with 4 others, one of whom was Donna, from College Station, Texas, who’d worked at Texas A&M at the press and at a health food store on Highway 6 between College Station and Bryan run by friends of hers. 
Donna was in New Mexico to attend a non-violence workshop, which turned out to be in Albuquerque. She left by car the last morning I was there.  Golden marigolds strung together for a buddhist ceremony were laid out to dry along the back seat.
The Alameda residence is a comfortable adobe single unit, one of four one-storied buildings that share an address and courtyards. 
I’d contacted several Santa Fe members of an online house share organization, Couch Surfing ( to stay 2 extra nights in Santa Fe. Joel’s was the accepting reply. He’s hosted one or two people frequently. One was due to arrive right after I leave. There’s a pull-out couch I found comfortable enough without having to pull out the whole bed.  He said his daughter liked it that way, too.
After the short walk back from coffeehouse/map store, I now hear and see rain again through multi-paned windows, trees swaying in the wind.  It’s a full-on shower today!  There’s rain and the sun shining at the same time for awhile. And tiny, bead-sized hail stones for a few seconds. Afterwards, it’s quite a bit cooler but I’m still comfortable indoors without a jacket.
I looked at Austin’s weather and it looks like Austin might have scattered showers in their forecast for Friday and much-lower temps–into the mid-90s.  Here, it’s been in the low 70s days.
Taos is actually a couple of degrees warmer than Santa Fe days, but cooler nights. Looks like Ohio City, Colorado (where Charles and Mildred, my brother and sister-in-law live) is about 10 degrees cooler than Santa Fe or Taos, and about the same as Taos nights (that’s in the 30s, for all you Texans!).
I’m feeling that extra 2,000 feet Santa Fe elevation, added to Albuquerque’s 5,000+ feet. Still adjusting to those changes.  I felt dizzy walking around the first few days in Santa Fe, but o.k. after coffee and a snack. Still, the elevation is real and so are the effects. I remember it sometimes took almost 2 weeks to adjust to elevation changes when I lived in Salt Lake City and returned each fall after summers in Austin.
I’ve dipped into some fine reading here–a collection of Rumi’s poetry gathered by translator-performer, Coleman Barks, with added commentaries. I also looked through a few travel brochures, maps, and magazines, but don’t have much taste for reading yet. I even left some travel brochures and local magazines I’d picked up for Joel’s next guests, both to lighten my load and reduce reading matter.
Today, I decided I needed a little extra cash, so I went to the Plaza with that in mind.  I’d decided I could sell a “found” older i-Pod I had with me (found at UT over a year ago and later recharged by a Breeze Terrace neighbor who’d worked at Apple). I also took 12 U.S. postal stamps I had to sell. 
First, I approached some young people gathered under trees of a building near the Plaza if anyone wanted to buy the i-Pod. The kids wanted to “see” the i-Pod and asked how many gigabytes it had. But didn’t have the money to buy it.

Then, I approached a few small groups of older tourists on the Plaza about the stamps. No one was buying.

So, I wandered over to the busy covered market where Indians sell their wares, mostly jewelry, across from the Plaza.  I sold the stamps to one Indian woman after others had told me she might want to buy stamps.

In turn, she pointed out a second woman for the i-Pod. I talked with her and she was interested, but said we had to move away from the street market for the transaction because of market rules.
Ginger, the second woman, bought the i-Pod for her son, a firefighter. We talked across the street a while.  She’d heard about the Texas fires. This time, she said, her son had gone to Oregon to fight a fire there. He was due home soon. 
With my little bit of extra cash in hand, I went back by the Travel Bug coffee house/travel store. There, I could use wifi free after buying coffee and a bagel. The battery on the iBook went down before long, though, so I couldn’t finish the blog. I’ll copy and save to send out later. 
And I still have some cash left over!  Not much, though, and waiting on an October check. I may want to sell something else and lighten my load again.  Wonder what I could sell. . . energy bars? I have loads of them and they are heavy! Maybe some of the batteries bought for a portable phone charger.
In future travels, I might pack some things to sell with just this contingency in mind. Or, maybe it’s time I learned a street trade-how to do street portraits!

I always thought I could draw portraits that way, though I’m not sure how fast I could work. You’d have to be fast for street portraits. I can already draw faces in a way that captures likenesses and something of an individual’s personality.

In Bulgaria and on other travels, I did some drawing just for fun and also as a way to communicate. I met a poet in the Jewish sector of Kyustendil, Bulgaria, a small mountain resort town, and drew his portrait while sitting together at an outdoor coffee shop and getting help with my Bulgarian language skills. On a walk in a Sofia park with Yana, the youngest in my host family, we both drew pictures of nature.

In Santa Fe, I left my host some colored pencil drawings of the beautiful Heavenly Blue morning glories there and a green-brown hummingbird that frequented the feeder on the porch. Maybe this is a practice to develop and continue.

“Fertile Ground,” Sarah Beckstrom, Santa Fe 2011 (click on image to enlarge)


About jillscherb7

Retired intercultural educator & speech/English faculty; traveller to China, Europe-France, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Mexico (who's lived in China & Bulgaria); lover of books, poetry, film, narratives, music & art; sometime book reviewer; and Austinite (Texas, U.S.A.)
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