How can I get someone who hasn't had this wonderful food to understand just how yummy this local delicacy tastes! Afterall, it's just a lump of dough, flattened and fried then sprinkled with sweet stuff. The sweet stuff can be honey, cinamon, or powdered sugar ... your choice. Sometimes I think part of the joy of eating fry bread comes from the interaction with your cook ... a woman from the local tribe/pueblo. Some are young, some are old, some are somewhere in between those two points in life. But they are all vibrant :)
You'll find these vendors at State Fair, along the roadsides, and at touristy spots in between. If you see it or smell it, stop and take a taste of New Mexico!
My vendor at the Taos Pueble let me snap her pic while she made my order .... so enjoy the process as you enlarge the picture/collage.
I had never heard of a smudging ceremony before this retreat but Kymba led both opening and closing ones. At the opening smudging ceremony we were asked to state our objectives for the retreat. They did not have to be out loud but no one was shy about sharing. I had two objectives: (1) to help with the logistics, and (2) to catch an 18" trout. I accomplished the first one but not the second. Hey, I did catch a 24" trout in a pic! Kymba used a sage smudge and it really did smell good. BTW, Kymba is a fluent and posed public speaker (besides being a great retreat organizer).
The custom of marking the site of a death on the highway has deep roots in the Hispanic culture of the Southwest, where these memorials are often referred to as Descansos, "resting places". Traditionally, Descansos were memorials erected at the places where the funeral procession paused to rest on the journey between the church and the cemetery. The association thus created among the road, the interrupted journey, and death as a destination, eventually found expression in the practice of similarly marking the location of fatal accidents on the highway. Descanos are sad in some respects but also moving in their love for the departed. One only needs to look at these pictures to see examples of how true this is. Everyone should honor and respect these sites. See KymbaNM's site for much more information.
Spirituality is a huge part of exploring northern New Mexico. There is a magic in the air that permeates one's soul if one allows. Though hard to describe, this 'thing' is easy to experience ...all one needs to to relax, slow down, and open one's eyes to the region. This opens one's heart to feel the land, the air and then ... magic.
The entire state of New Mexico has a spiritual quality. Perhaps its because generations of Native Americans have honored the land, water, and sky. Or maybe because of the 'new age' hums some report to have heard. Could even be related to early missionary work and the strong presence of the Spanish Missionaries in our history. I have no idea myself. But I can tell you that I feel it too.
On the property at which we stayed there were bits of such magic for us to see, feel and touch. There was a sacred circle that had been used in the past for prayers and cermonials. The old sweatlodge, made of willows, was still standing near the firepit used to heat the rocks for ceremonials. Outside the entrance of the lodge, a pipe stand to hold sacred pipes.