Hermitage Cure: A New Mexican Month


Imagine skipping weekends in your life for a year.

I did.

Okay, it was eleven months.  Still, I can’t recommend it.

It crushed my usual enthusiasm for life and left me with an overwhelming need for routine and down-time.  The up side: I filled up my bank account and visited seven countries.  The downside – I became a ghost of my former self.

red mountain pizza ojo caliente new mexico countryside building adobe cloudy sky

My one-month hermitage – apartment attached to this cafe.

Solution: make up for lost [down] time by holing up in a cheap, isolated, rural, desert apartment for a month.

Trust me – to an introvert, this is paradise.

I found my New Mexican sanctuary on Craigslist.  Boyfriend and I made our way there from Arizona via a dizzyingly deep copper mine, gorgeous wilderness, our first overnight sleeps in our Tundra, the Gila Bend cliff dwellings, and endless spectacular scenery.

Days one to four, Boyfriend helped me with the work-trade that made the apartment affordable and managed to produce a mouthwatering smoked pork tenderloin on his camp stove.  This man is amazing.  Next I took him for a birthday celebration in and around Taos, NM to include earthship tours, hiking several thousand feet up a mountain, and a fancy-pants dinner in town.

desert road leading into sunset cloud

My almost-daily hike near my hermitage. #love

Then he was off to Carlsbad Caverns and Area 51, while I got jump on some hardcore vegging-out.  The almost-daily afternoon thunderstorms smashed the desert heat and made for spectacular sunset hiking above the nearby hot springs resort.

Cups of tea, phone calls, naps, reading, writing, workouts, comfort food, Ted Talks, staying up late, sleeping in, good beer, good whiskey… I maxed out on awesomeness.

And started to come back to life.

Boyfriend stopped back in on his way to the Grand Canyon so we could celebrate America’s birthday together.  I took him to his first rodeo, first American parade, and first July 4th fireworks.  The rodeo, with its Chili Dogs and Frito Pie (yes, we did!), took the cake for most ” ‘Merican”.  We sat amongst folks from the nearby Philmont BoyScout Camp while cowgirls and cowboys showcased their intense and breathtaking ranching skills.

ojo caliente hot springs hike desert new mexico

Sharing a desert hike with Boyfriend

Beyond the usual bull riding, pole bending, calf-roping, and barrel racing, the Cimmaron Rodeo also showcases a wild horse race – teams of three catching, saddling and riding an unbroken horse.  The wild cow milking was cancelled due to drought.  The sheep scramble wrapped up the day with laughs: every child attending the event chases after five-dollar bills attached to some tails in a flock of sheep turned loose in the arena!

Afterward, as we made our way across the New Mexican countryside toward our evening fireworks destination, we chatted about the parade we’d attended before the Rodeo.  I found it adorable, with lots of low-input floats and participants.  Definitely not much of the grandeur I grew up with.  I expected Boyfriend to echo my “points-for-trying” commendation, but he shocked me with high praise for the display and said it was the biggest parade he’d ever seen!  How’s that for eye-of-the-beholder?  The fireworks also left an impression on him: not only were they three times longer than he expected, but it was a first for both of us – fireworks during a lightning storm!

glory hole glassblowing class

Keeping the glass workable between layers and colors and flourishes.

Before Mr. Wonderful took off for the Grand Canyon, he treated me to an all-day date – starting with the perfect cup of coffee.  Then he fulfilled my long-time dream of a glass art class, took me on a quaint stroll through Santa Fe’s historic district, treated me to gorgeous cocktails overlooking downtown, and finally chauffeured me to my first ever opera at the infamous open-air theater outside the city.  While the moon rose behind the stage, we watched act one of Carmen, a fatal-attraction love story that incensed the bourgeoisie of its time with its Gypsy protagonist.   Not opera-fluent in Spanish, and knowing nothing of the musical subtext, the in-seat translators made the performance quite palatable.

After so much action, we thought we deserved a day “at home.”  I taught him the two step in our little basement apartment, which he picked up like a house on fire.  We explored miles of nearby mountain roads and marathon-watched Orange is the New Black.  Then I sent him packing and got back to making up for my forty lost weekends.

To the aforementioned awesomeness, I added occasional glasses of wine at the hot springs restaurant.  And visits to the resort’s campfire, where friendly guests generously shared their delectable s’mores and great conversation.  On my last solo, New Mexico morning, I soaked up an entire days’ worth of thermal waters.  Then I welcomed Boyfriend ecstatically, we did one last, memorable little home improvement project, and we were off for family and fun in Colorado!  ♣

See what an “earthship” is and the most kitschy bar in New Mexico – in this album.


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