Category Archives: New Mexico

NM Road Trip: A stop at Kakawa Cafe!

It was off to Santa Fe. I used my GPS to find this very special chocolate specialty shop. I was wandering around Espanola, NM when I stopped at a gas station. They had a brochure for chocolate specialty shops, and Kakawa was by far the most interesting of the four mentioned since they had Mayan hot chocolate! They had dozens of varieties of solid chocolates, as well as eight varieties of hot chocolate, many of which had a Mayan and Aztec theme. I was curious about this shop because years ago, I coined my own Mayan hot chocolate. I call it Aztec Chai, or Mayan Masala. I used traditional Mayan spices and mixed them with Asian Indian spices and almond milk from Whole Foods to make my own spicy chocolate drink! I was surprised to find out how similar this shop makes their chocolate to how I made it. They even used almond milk as well!

My recipe for Mayan Masala Hot Chocolate
Dark Chocolate powder (preferably organic)
Almond milk (sweetened)
Ground almonds
Chili powder
Ground seeds (optional)
Cardomom (freshly ground)
Vanilla extract

One of Kakawa’s hot chocolate blends was given to warriors before battle. It had lots of chili, but also flower essences, vanilla, and ground seeds in the concoction! This is the Rose Almond Elixir if my memory serves correctly. It is my favorite of their selection. They have another choice that has chai spices which is very similar to what my personal recipe calls for, although I don’t use ginger or black pepper which is often used in chai in India.

I had a nice talk with the folks working there. We talked about the Mayans, history, and other topics. I told them that their hot cocoa was the best I had had in my life! This short visit is one I will pleasantly remember my entire life! But, I asked if they could do something to jazz up the place. Maybe Tuesday nights poetry readings. Wednesday nights amateur comedy. Thursday nights “live” human sacrifices. Maybe you could send out invitation cards with a guest of honor. The manager responded that they had thought about the live sacrifice idea already, but decided against it because they weren’t sure if Obama-care would cover it!

NM Road Trip: A stop at Ojo Caliente

During my last trip to New Mexico, I just wanted to take it easy. I wanted to have a few nice meals and not over do it like I had on previous trips. To see a lot while traveling during the winter, you need to get up early (not my thing) and pack the day with activities that are in a logical geographic sequence. Perhaps the last thing you do would be the farthest so that you can use the evening after dark hours to drive back, so you don’t miss anything during business & daylight hours.

In any case, I wanted to meditate, do emails, and sleep eight hours before I did any tourist activity. That cut many hours out of my day. After including driving time, by the time I got to my first destination, it was 1pm. That left only three hours until the sun started getting very low. The sub freezing temperatures didn’t add to my ventures either!

Ojo Caliente
So, I drove north to see Ojo Caliente Spa. It was almost two hours North of where I was staying in Albuquerque. I stopped by a gas station and sampled a chorizo hot dog (not bad, but not great). They had some flyers there, and one was for local chocolatiers! I took the flyer, and continued to the spa. In another blog entry I will write about my amazing experience having Mayan hot cocoa at Kakawa Chocolatier! The first thing I did was to go to the wine tasting room. I tasted a Black Mesa red wine — a very nice jammy wine with deep tones! Then, I made my way to the spa. There were several pools there. One had arsenic water! I was going to ask if there was old lace in the water too, but I kept that question to myself! Each pool had a different medicinal property. Some pools were warm, while one was a hot tub. What got me was that people were mulling around in 31 degree weather outside in their bathing suits. I told them I would come back on a warmer day!

I went to the dressing room to ask them what types of massages they had. There were facials, foot massages, deep tissue, and many other varieties. Their prices were reasonable, but a little more than what I normally pay for massage in Los Angeles. There were many nice little hikes on the grounds. I hiked up a hill, and then hiked along the river for a while. But, I had other things to do, so I had to get back! Next time I’ll spend an entire day there, and perhaps devote an entire Southwest trip to spa-tasting or spa-testing (spa-hopping?). I’ve never been to a spa before except for 45 minutes in Desert Hot Springs, CA. It was on the way to Arizona and my friend and I thought it would be fun to stop by. But, I have never spent a night at a spa hotel anywhere before. I have no idea what that would be like. It is out in the middle of nowhere if you stay at Ojo Caliente! Will the silence and isolation be a refreshing relief? Or, will it be isolating and restraining?

You’re in Texas Now Boy!

I wrote about this in a different article. It was a very bizarre experience — like something out of a movie. I crossed the border from friendly New Mexico into rough West Texas several years ago. There was a pick up truck keeping a respectful distance until I crossed the border. The minute I crossed the border he started tailgating me for a while, and then he passed me. I wonder if this was the way they welcome Californian’s who drive Toyotas into their state.

It was odd crossing that border. I had been to Dallas and Austin a few times before, but those are very civilized looking places. West Texas had lots of dead looking bushes the minute I crossed the border. New Mexico had life energy, and Texas had harsh vibes and death. It was a tough place to live, and water had to be trucked in from El Paso too.

A few years alter, I read an article on the internet. Certain states have some of the worst drivers in the country, and Texas was on the worst driver list. I think if they cut the state up into parts, they would find that West Texas and Bel-Air, CA are the tailgating capitals of the United States. Some of these people have ants in their pants or a urinary tract infection that makes them have to get to a toilet fast. They will tailgate you until they get to their toilet.

Personally, I feel the solution to the problem is more driver education, and really good holistic prostate medicine. I heard that half a glass of cranberry juice and some pumpkin seeds daily does wonders for the good old prostate!

I went back to Texas a few weeks ago. Had the best barbecue of my life as well! Rudy’s was so good, that they made turkey taste moist and delicious! I got through thirty minutes in Texas without being tailgated. Then, I went over the hill in Franklin Park thinking how lucky I was that I didn’t get tailgated. Then, sure enough, a pickup from hell came behind me. I decided to slow down. Why should I give in to this jerk who was really annoying me.

I’ll end this article with a saying:
“When you’re in Texas look behind you — cuz that’s — where the tailgaters — gonna be.”

The Starbucks can at Santa Fe

The Starbucks can at Santa Fe

Every month I try to go on a short trip and go somewhere. When I am adventurous, I go a little farther than normal. I love New Mexico and have been there many times. If I had it my way, I would visit there four times a year. But, the fourteen hour drive is nothing to be taken lightly.

Carlsbad Caverns
I wanted to see Carlsbad Caverns. I had never been there before, but had read a lot about it. I have been to many caves in different parts of California and Oregon, but Carlsbad Caverns is the best cave system in the Western part of the United States. There is another top notch cavern network in Western Virginia I believe as well.

The hotel & the spirit
I stayed at a Best Western if my memory serves me correctly. This all happened around 2006 or 2007 so it is a distant memory. While going to bed, I noticed a presence. I knew a spirit was there. Not a bad spirit, but one who liked to linger. It is hard to go to sleep when you are being watched. I was slightly upset and didn’t know what to do. Should I call Ghostbusters? I turned the light on in hopes that the spirit would go away. I had to get up early for my cave tour the next day. I don’t know what the spirit did, but I felt a little better with a light on. Spirits don’t like hanging around well lit places as a rule.

Waking up
So, the next day I had to wake up really early. I got up on time — around 7am or so. I bathed, packed my car, checked out, and then drove to the appointed meet. It was in the middle of nowhere. It was about 15 miles from the main entrance of the cave which is well marked. I was the first person to make it and park. There were picnic tables, so I just hung out. Finally, the small group started arriving one by one. Our leader made sure we all had flashlights all ready. I had backup flashlights too, because I am a prepared camper. We followed our guide down a half mile trail going up and down small rock encrusted hills to the entrance of the cave.

The cave tour
We went in the cave. There was a thick layer of bat feces that had accumulated over hundreds of years. It got to be several feet thick in some places. Bats made this place their home, but were not a problem during the morning. There was a designated path with occassional stairways going down this huge room in the cave. This was no ordinary cave room. It was over 1000 feet long and 200 or more feet across. Down and down we went. It is such an unusual environment and really changes your perspective. After twenty minutes it flattened out and we went through all types of rooms and channels. There was no more bat life once we got to that point.

The lost ranger
Our guide told me how one ranger got lost in the cave when his lantern went out and had to use his cell phone for light to get out of there. He had the cave almost memorized, but there are so many twists and turns, that even if you know the landmarks, it is still very difficult. He had one of us lead the pack to see if he could get us out of that cave without guidance. The guy in front did a fairly good job. There were all types of recognizable shapes and distinguishing marks in the cave. I remember that one rock had some white markings on it for some reason.

Lights out!
It is a constant 57 degrees in almost all caves throughout the world. Bring a jacket or a sweater. You don’t notice how chilly it is until you stop moving. Almost all cave tours include a lights out session. It is pitch black. Your eyes do not adjust. It is just plain blackness. We experienced lights out for a few minutes. It is a different world down there. You would just die slowly and quietly if you got stuck in a cave without light.

Driving through Texas
The cave tour came to an end. We left, and I decided to drive a few miles South into Texas. There was a very politely driven silver Dodge pick up truck behind me. The minute we crossed the Texas line he started tail gaiting me as if to say, “You’re in Texas now boy!” Then, he passed me. I visited Guadalupe National Park for a few minutes just to see what it was. I didn’t have time for a thorough investigation. It was very rocky and dry with spectacular views of patchy colored flat ground for hundreds of miles in any direction. There is a particular look that the ground has in West Texas. It is littered with black leafless bushes that look dead. It is a harsh environment, and merely staying alive seems like a challenge. I drove through the flat terrain. There were mountains in the distance. Many were unusually shaped pointy rock mountains shaped like triangles. I stopped at a cafe that had to import its water from El Paso. Each flush cost them 64 cents according to the sign, so I felt guilty and ordered some food after I went to the bathroom. I drove to El Paso after that. Lots of monster trucks tailgated me there. Maybe they are bigots and didn’t like my California plates on my Toyota. Who knows? El Paso is one of the safest cities in the U.S., but it has a very disturbing vibe. You see those typical El Paso (taco bell) type arches everywhere in the Mexican style architecture. 80% of the population there is Hispanic by the way. I drove a little further and saw lots of border guards with pick up trucks keeping an eye on the river to make sure nobody swam across.

Welcome to New Mexico!
It was a relief to see the Welcome to New Mexico sign in the distance. West Texas is a harsh and uninviting environment. New Mexico is a friendly land of enchantment, mystery and magic. I drove straight up the 25 all the way to Santa Fe. I stayed at a Comfort Inn. Nothing was unusual about this hotel. I watched television and went to bed.

After I went to bed, I heard this loud “Whoosh” sound. I looked in the bathroom. I opened my door to look outside, but there was nobody out there. It sounded like a door had bee quickly shut. But, no door had actually moved. It was very mysterious and peculiar. I shrugged my shoulders and went to bed. The next morning I woke up and it was time for my customary Starbucks double shot. There was a horizontal slit in the can and half of the liquid was missing, yet there was no mess either. Bizarre. The spirit who hovered above me back in Carlsbad had followed me all the way up here. He cut a slit in that can to make his presence known. I talked to my psychic about that incident. She said that spirit was very interested in me. He was a Native American who lived in the 1800’s. He was strangled to death by another Native guy for making trouble. The spirit was fascinated by me because I liked to travel all over the place. When he was alive, he apparently traveled by horse all over the place too.