Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tecate- Pueblo Mágico

Tecate has been inhabited for over ten thousand years by the Kumiai people, but its official title as a town, according to the Mexican government, began in 1892.  Since then, the town has been influenced by its major industries, various factories, the production of malt which eventually turned into the brewery business, all of which have brought families and schools and more business.  Its history has shaped it into a city that now has the title of Pueblo Mágico. "Un Pueblo Mágico es una localidad que tiene atributos simbólicos, leyendas, historia, hechos trascendentes, cotidianidad, en fin magia que te emanan en cada una de sus manifestaciones socio-culturales, y que significan hoy día una gran oportunidad para el aprovechamiento turístico".  (A Magical Town is a town that has symbolic attributes, legends, history, important historical events, characteristic daily life, and charm which emanates into all of its socio-cultural manifestations, which means that today it is a great opportunity for the enjoyment of tourists.)  This sums of Tecate well.  It received the title (from the Mexico Tourism Board) back in 2012.  I started going to Tecate regularly towards the end of 2013.  Starting last year they have done some major remodeling (increasing the size of the park, improving the facades of buildings, reducing hanging electric wires).  It looks better than ever, and they are not done.  They have completely torn up the beer garden at the Tecate Brewery (it is a dirt lot now).  I am assuming that they will be opening up a museum on their property, because they took back all of the brewery related artifacts from the Tecate Community Museum (this is just a guess).  

My walking tour of Tecate always includes the park, the church, the bakery, the Tecate Community Museum, the brewery (I can only hope they have plans for improvement, not that it needed it), the railroad station (weekday only), and my favorite taco shop.  I do this every time I return to Tecate and it never gets old.  There is always something new to see.  Tecate has so much culture, and it is just right over the border.  
A border which never has a queue when returning back home after a day of exploring.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Coyote Mountain

Wisteria Candy Cottage, established in 1921, is located in the middle of nowhere.  Naturally we combined our fossil finding trip with our chocolate finding trip, because we had to go through the middle of nowhere to get there.  
Eric and I discovered the candy cottage from a TV show, Ken Kramer's About San Diego. 
It is pricey (23.95$ per pound) but fun, and I am sure it is factored into the price of having nieces.    

Our first stop in Coyote Mountain (in Anza Borrego State Park) was Fossil Canyon.  
6 million years ago this entire area used to be underwater, part of the Sea of Cortez (the Gulf of California).  3 million years ago sediment carried by the Colorado River created a boundary between the sea, changing it into a lake, which eventually became the desert that we know of today as Anza Borrego.  The sea fossils are evidence of the past marine environment. 

It didn't take long to start finding fossils.  

This spider probably has a shell couch in its living room. 

The rock at the top of this picture has an oyster embedded within it.  

I think we were all surprised, even me as the group leader, how many fossils there are at Coyote Mountain.  

This sedimentary rock wall is full of shells.

From Fossil Canyon we drove a few miles to Domelands trailhead.  Surprisingly enough, there were more fossils at Domelands than Fossil Canyon.  

On this little hill were hundreds of sand dollar fossils.  Elle, very eloquently, said, "it's really strange that we are looking for shells in the desert."  

All we can talk about is returning to find more shell fossils.  I thought we would be lucky to find a couple, I never would have guessed that it would be difficult to not find fossils.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Archeology Weekend, Anza Borrego

Every year for the past 13 years Anza Borrego Foundation sponsors Archeology Weekend, and this year I was asked to attend, as a translator for the Native Americans who came from Baja California to showcase their craftwork.  I really enjoyed the volunteer position.  I did more than help sell their artwork, I explained the history of Native Americans in Baja California and in San Diego, I discussed the border that goes through their territory along with the discrimination, I expounded on the thousands of years of passing down technique from generation to generation, the loss of the language, the dependence on nature totally lost in our society... it felt more like a public service announcement, and I told anyone who would listen.   This morning, someone, who had already bought pottery, had a necklace in their hand and said to me, "tell me why I should buy this."  If I started with 'because it belongs in a museum' it seemed like I was taking lines from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so I started from the beginning, 
"ten to twelve thousand years ago..."

This is my new game, kakap in Cucapa.  It is super addictive.  

Gerardo was a borrego in a past life.

Eric came to visit and I snuck away to tour the straw bale archeological research center.

Bob Begole, whom the facility is named after, worked as an archeologist in Anza Borrego for 35 years, recording thousands of archeological sites.  Although it is not current practice to collect artifacts (because it is against the beliefs of the Native Americans and also because artifacts do not have meaning taken out of context) the research center has to preserve what has been collected, and donated.  

Wildflowers are currently in bloom.

When Daria, one of the Paipai artisans, saw these barrel cactus (biznaga) flowers she was so excited, and explained to me how to cook them and how delicious they are.  Apparently they taste like cauliflower.
I think the ladies were just as excited to see the jojoba.  
It is incredible to spend time with people who see more than beauty in nature, but use. 

From the left: Daria (Paipai), Gloria (Paipai), Alfonso (Cucapa), Lydia (Kiliwa), Thunder (the Native American name I gave to myself when I was 8), and Gerardo (geologist and group leader).

Paipai are known for the pottery.  Gloria and Daria made some pots to show the process.

I bought this ceramic piece from Gloria, and the necklace I am wearing from Alfonso.
Each piece of pottery is so distinct, defined by the burn marks from the firing process, the variations in Baja California's unique clay, as well as each artisan's twist on the ancient tradition. 

Lydia made a palm pendant.  She had to use string because the palm had not soaked long enough to do it the traditional way.  Kiliwa use palm whereas Kumiai use juncus, their media depends on their tribe location.
Someone asked me today why I know so much about Native American culture.  It has been an interesting past three years, one turn after another has lead me here, and now it is a part of me.
I woke up this morning to Lydia saying 'smells like coffee' in Kiliwa, 'jacuñil dama.'  I don't know if anyone else in the world heard these words this morning, since there are only five people left who speak the language.