Scene:Jacob (fellow seasonal worker whose cabin shares a wall with mine and who is quickly growing into a comforting older brother figure) takes me to dinner in Taos. We eat blue corn enchiladas, drink margaritas and shoot tequila, and share the beginnings of our life stories, the rest of which continue to unravel through subsequent days.
Scene:I become Jacob's employee by driving him two hours to Santa Fe to sell two Mac computers, which is his self-started business. A coyote runs across the road. We share our favorite hip hop songs with each other in the car. For the first time since June, I earn money instead of just spending it. And I get to see Santa Fe - briefly.
I walk the town of Arroyo Seco, where I live - all one dirt road of it. I walk into each business - the natural food store, a gallery, the mercantile, the consignment shop, the coffee shop, the clothing store - one at a time, saying, "Hi, my name is Melanie. I just moved in to town and wanted to introduce myself." People smile and tell me their stories. At some places, I leave not only my smile but my resume.
|The Taos Cow - the coffee/ice cream shop|
I wake up to my alarm at 4:30am, throw on warm clothes, and toss my headlamp, a towel, and some snacks into my daypack. I meet Kent, a hostel-guest-turned-friend in the parking lot by 5am, ready to head to the hot springs for first light. We drive in the dark to the remote Mesa and on to a rough dirt road that leads us to the mile long trail, which takes us to the banks of the Rio Grande.
We sit in the hot springs talking about politics, the purpose of money, and what Jesus was all about anyway, while the sun comes up and two hot air balloons visit the gorge.
|A hot air balloon visitor from the POV of the springs|
|Hot springs on the bank of the river|
At 7am, I stumble from my outdoor cabin to the main building, sleep still in my eyes, and am surprised to see police in the parking lot on my way. They ask me where a particular guest is staying and explain that apparently there was a "domestic disturbance" issue with a couple here last night. (Ah, so that's what the yelling at 3am was about.) I haven't even brushed my teeth yet.
Later, I drive the man from the couple (who was the victim, not the perpetrator) into town to catch a free bus out of here and begin his new life, away from his ex, who has disappeared into the mist.
I take my bike out for the first time since arriving here and do some exploring. I don't know where I'm going. I end up in the next teeny tiny town, Arroyo Hondo - which is even teenier and tinier than Arroyo Seco. On the way back, I stop at a folk art gallery by the road.
|My bike ride|
I run my first solo shift at the hostel, after a whopping hour or so of training. I sort of know how to use the computer system to check in guests and make reservations. I sort of know where things are, and how much some things cost. I don't most of what I need to. The night is relatively successful, regardless.
I check in a lovely family from Switzerland who are touring the western U.S. to rock climb. They have been sleeping in a tent with their two young children for the entire trip except their three nights with us. The parents speak marginal English, and the kids speak none. Nevertheless, I played with the kids a bit (the girl took my heartbeat with the Fischer Price stethescope, and the little boy threw his stuffed bunny at me while laughing - I think that counts as playing).
|The boy with one of our resident cats, Snowcone|
|His sister wants to be in the picture, too|
I run my second solo desk shift at the hostel. I check in a large group of 17 people from University of New Mexico, here for the weekend for a mountain medicine course. I accidentally charge them twice as much as they were supposed to pay and my boss has to come fix it. Oops.
|The main room filled with college students|
While I’m on shift, Jacob calls me from the road, where he is hitchhiking back from town. “Yo! There’s a reggae show at KTAOS tonight! Wanna go after you’re done working the desk? I’ll pay for your ticket.” At 10pm I find myself at KTAOS, a completely solar-powered radio station/live music venue/bar/restaurant, listening to an awesome reggae band and meeting a bunch of new friends around the fires out back.
|Reggae show at KTAOS|
It's been a good first week.