Ringing in the New Year with a Native New Mexican tradition...
Happy New Year! The last few weeks have been wonderful. I was able to fly home for 5 days at Christmas, and Kua flew home too! That was definitely an adventure for her, and besides a little (well, actually not-so-little) #2-related incident in the Minneapolis airport, she did great. I absolutely loved spending time with friends and especially family back in Minnesota. The times when my entire family is under one roof are now few and far between, but I treasure these moments; nothing compares to spending an evening with family laughing, sharing stories, working on jigsaw puzzles or playing games, and listening to Christmas music.
A pueblo-style Nativity scene I gave my parents for Christmas. They loved it!
Back in Santa Fe, I had a fabulous New Year’s Eve at Second Street Brewery with some of our new friends. It was one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve had in a long time – friends, live music, champagne toast…perfect!
I rang in 2012 by witnessing a traditional pueblo Indian celebration: the Turtle Dance at Taos Pueblo. This was my first time visiting an Indian Pueblo. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised about the beauty of this Native American village. The Pueblo comprised several adobe style homes, some of them up to four stories tall, containing ladders to reach the upper levels, as well as a small church and some art shops. Entering the pueblo, the view of the mountains was breathtaking, and I detected the pleasant smell of burning incense or something of that nature.
The Turtle Dance involved a line of men of various ages chanting and stomping in unison, while a percussionist behind them kept rhythm on a large hand-made drum. The costumes of the dancers were fascinating. Their upper bodies were bare except for body paint and colorful beaded necklaces (most containing turquoise). The men wore brightly colored fabric wrapped around their lower bodies, with tails made of animal skin. On their feet they exhibited fur moccasins, and many wore bells around their ankles. The dancers held a shaker in their right hand and a spruce branch in their left hand. Their heads were decorated with feathers and a ponytail of bright fabric or fur.
It was difficult for me to determine the tone of the Turtle Dance – was it joyful? Sacrificial? Expressing thanksgiving? – but I could tell that it was physically demanding, as many of the men were noticeable short of breath and perspiring by the end of each segment of the performance. As the men danced, the women, who were wrapped in brightly colored blankets, watched them. I wondered to myself, What is the role of the women on this feast day?
Although I felt like a tourist, somehow interfering with the Indians’ special celebration (though I tried hard to follow all the appropriate rules), I really enjoyed visiting a pueblo. It gave me a glimpse into how many native New Mexican people have lived for hundreds of years and some still live today. Based on what I saw in their beautiful village, I believe that they live a very happy, peaceful life in the pueblos. From a professional standpoint, it was important to me to get a better picture of the pueblo lifestyle since many of my patients live in pueblos and it is my responsibility to prepare them to return home safely after their hospital stay.
Note: As photographs are not allowed during Feast Days at the pueblos, these pictures of Taos pueblo are taken from various websites.
2011 was a year of change. Changes in my career, my relationships, my priorities, and of course my geographical location. Though I welcomed all of these positive changes, I hope 2012 is a year of stability and that I move closer to calling Santa Fe home.