full circle in the hundred acre wood

Today, we drove to Dulce, an amazing drive all in all. there are a few tiny towns and good road. The Abiquiu area was the most dramatic landscape. Abiquiu Lake, a reservoir, is there, and the great jagged red rocks so beloved by the artist Georgia O’Keefe are riveting. The landscape is harsh and dramatic and yet alluring. this is a vast, largely empty, countryside. Passing the Abiquiu area, as we begin to approach Chama, the geography changes and forested areas appear along with creeks, rivers, lush pastureland, fat cows and beautiful horses. Dulce is only about 25 miles from Chama. It is at the top of New Mexico. The next town up is Pagoa Springs, Colorado, or if you continue over toward Arizona, the next town is Farmington, New Mexico; I think about 80 miles from Dulce.

The Jicarilla Best Western motel is owned by the tribe. It was built in 1984 and owned by the Viga (vee-ha) brothers until bought by the tribe in 1998. the Vigas continue to have a management contract. the only black person I saw while we were in New Mexico (except for a tourist couple in Santa Fe) was cutting grass and clipping bushes at the motel in Dulce. He looked as though he might have been in a terrible car crash or some other ordeal which left him looking as though his back and legs had been broken and never healed properly. His movements were slow and seemed to be painful. The motel was clean and the lobby area had some charm. There was a small gift shop across from the front desk and the hallway to the restaurant was lined with group photos of the tribal council and paintings by a now-deceased local artist.

Once we began to look around the area, it became clear that we were so far out, as Britt Hume might say, “The busses don’t even run.”  We drove around a bit. The tribal police station was behind the motel, a building that in retrospect seems oversized for a population of only 3,000 and well-equipped with 4-wheel drive Bronco-type vehicles. We stopped at the game and fish office. Here Buck provided the good-natured clerk with his social security number for the bear hunting license and we looked at the trophy room filled with elk and mule deer heads. From there we drove on down the road, past a child care center, the community center and the school. There was a combination grocery store/dry goods store and Ace hardware, the post office and a Wells Fargo bank, plus a couple of gas stations, a laundry and two liquor stores.

The two-story motel has 44 rooms. The halls are wide, with some sparse plantings in the middle. The back is a fenced-in lawn. It looks like a pool was thought of at one time but never materialized. There are a couple of late teen or twenty something guys lacadaisically shooting hoops in the parking lot of the liquor store in front of the motel. Our room, #119, is nice and roomy. It has a kitchenette in an alcove with a small 4 burner stove and oven. The metal cabinets are empty. The small built-in refrigerator is great and keeps our milk and cheese icy cold. We have brought wheat buns, bread and cheese, peanut butter, raisin bran, bananas, grapes, milk, Diet Cokes and crackers, along with some paper bowls, plastic forks and spoons, paper towels and bottled water. The furniture is inexpensive and somewhat shabby, but there is a comfortable bed and plenty of chairs and a small dinette table just the right height for working on. There weren’t many electrical outlets and only one phone jack, so we had to be a bit creative in arranging a space for the computer. It worked out fine. I noticed when trying to move a lamp that all of the lamps were screwed into the furniture and the dressers, night stands, tv, etc. were bolted to the wall or the floor.

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