Monday, March 19, 2012

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hard to believe that we have been here almost a week and I have not written one posting. So I consequently have a bit of catching up to do here to let you all know what we have been seeing and doing. This is about the third time we have been in this city so we have not been too busy sight seeing. As we drove along Interstate 40 last week, leaving Arizona and entering New Mexico, we saw beautiful red rock formations. In this northern part of Arizona we drove through a corner of the Painted Desert as well as the Petrified Forest.
Weather-wise we have had a great week with the temperatures in the low 80s. Friday we decided to revisit the Sandia Mountains. We drove to the top and watched skiers on the slopes. We had hoped to do some hiking in the lower elevations but snow and ice blocked our path on every trail we attempted.
Saturday morning we had an entirely different experience hiking through desert land along the Rio Grande River at Coronado State Monument. This park was once the site of an ancient Indian village dating back to the early 1300s. Archeologists found the ruins of this village in the 1930s.
The ancient Native Indian village, called Kuaua, was discovered by Captain-General Francisco Coronado  in 1540. At the time there were about 20,000 people living in 12-14 villages along the Rio Grande. According to the chroniclers of  Coronado's expedition, the members of this farming community were living fairly healthy and peaceful lives. By October of 1540 Coronado occupied one of the villages, after first rousting the natives out of it. According to one park brochure the actions of the Spaniards "kindled the first spark of Indian hatred for the white man". There is not much now to see in this park, except restored ruins of the ancient village. However, in the visitor's center there is a museum which contain some of the the original murals from the walls of a kiva in the ancient village. In 1935 archeologists found the ruins of a subterranean chamber which had walls painted with murals depicting some aspects of the Indian religion. The murals were removed from their original base and mounted on large sheets of masonite to be later carefully preserved on pieces of commercial pressboard. The murals, along with other findings in the ruins (as skeletons,tools, weapons,seeds,etc.)  have given anthropologists a fairly clear picture of how those ancient people lived.

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