I’m not going to lie – when I visited Albuquerque, NM back at the end of March I was dreading ever coming back. Everything was still dead, the grass was still brown and none of the flowers had started to bloom yet. Not to mention, the day I flew in was the dust storm of the century. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad but for this southern gal, it was! So, about a month later, here I am again…back in Albuquerque for the IAMC Spring 2011 Professional Forum at the Hyatt Tamaya. I have to admit (and I don’t do this often so cherish this moment) – I was so wrong about Albuquerque! What a difference a month makes! Well, let me clarify just a little. The winds and dust are still just as bad but the weather is warmer, the trees are greener and the flowers are in bloom. It’s alive!
Two days after being in Albuquerque (just about the time my dry skin started to kick in) and after months of anticipation, the IAMC Volunteer Service Project was finally upon us. We went to the Santo Domingo Pueblo Trading Post via the New Mexico Rail Runner and made adobe bricks for its restoration. The trading post was damaged due to a fire about 13 years ago and for the past year the Pueblo has had plans to restore it back to its original state so it can be used for selling their local pottery, jewelry and other wares.
There were three dirt pits that we filled with water, straw and dirt. After the right proportions of each were added, we had to stir it until it became thick and muddy.
Then, wheel barrow loads of mud was brought over to the brick frames where we hand packed it in until each brick was somewhat smooth and…brick-like. I’m not a professional masonry so I couldn’t think of any better way to describe it! This whole process was so much fun yet vigorous!
Ok, ok…so I only made like 6 bricks total and took pictures most of the time but those who did all the hard work told me that it was indeed hard work! I did work hard enough though that at the end of the day I had mud in my eyebrows and dirt from the wind in my eyes, ears, mouth and nose. It was the cheapest exfoliation treatment I’ve ever had! At the end of the day, a total of 332 bricks were made – it may not be enough to completely rebuild the place but at least one day we can all look back and know that we had a hand in it. Besides, I carved my initials in each brick I made so that my impression will be everlasting…nah, I’m just kidding!
While at the Santo Domingo Pueblo, I did have the chance to meet Ricardo Cate. He is a native to the pueblo and a great comedian too! He and his fellow members of the pueblo invited our group to their Senior Center for a homemade Native American lunch. I have a bad memory and can not remember what we ate but I do remember that it was delicious! Also, the bread they served was baked in hornos ovens – I love bread and I could have eaten a whole loaf by myself! Ricardo also captured video of our group working hard and actually allowed us to play it during the IAMC Closing General Session on Wednesday morning. It was such a beautifully made video and actually made my eyes a bit misty. I should have known it would as I’m typically such a sap. The Santo Domingo Trading Post was such an amazing experience and I will cherish the memories for a life time.
Also, as a part of the IAMC Volunteer Service Project, I had a few students with the Macaroni Necklace Project from Laguna Pueblo Middle School come to the forum on Monday to sell their hand-crafted macaroni necklaces for $1 to our attendees. Michael Gavlak leads this after school project which benefits their community. The students make food baskets to assist families in need within their community. They also support cancer research in memory of the late Ms. Demers, who created the project. These necklaces are not just plain macaroni strung aimlessly either – they are dyed different colors and strategically strung to make neat designs. They brought 300 necklaces to sell and within an hour and 15 minutes they were all gone!
Of all the things I did and saw during my time here, the Santo Domingo Trading Post and the Laguna Pueblo Macaroni Necklace Project were my absolute favorite.