Following the map further, I make a right-hand turn and walk uphill to a morada. Two large wooden crosses lean against its earthen walls, another three are planted on a rise, looking like a Hollywood fabricated Calvary.

Sitting nearby, resting my head against a celebration of dancing half-human, half-animal form to the cohabitation with animal essences. This vision portrayed at Les Trois Frères marks the same experience of crossing the cosmic threshold in precisely the same images as those employed more than one hundred and fifty centuries later by the Tukano. It is almost as if the human mind at its deep levels, the levels galvanized by initiation, does in fact contain 'the whole spiritual heritage of mankind's evolution born anew in the brain structure of a thorny cholla, I note the nakedness of the surrounding hills, and the highway snaking below. It is much the same scene O'Keeffe must have seen; her Provence, sans the dappled shoulders of Mont Sainte-Victorie. She settled for the skulls of this hard-headed land.

My next stop is the cemetery, guided through a portal into a world of small crosses and plastic flowers growing amongst nameless weeds, nurtured by souls tethered to this place for over 400 years.

Death is but a Shadow
Across the Path to Heaven

A cloud drifts across the sun, as I wind my way back around the tombstones, to the sandy road of animal tracks, empty beer cans, a woman clearing an acequia of trash, the acidic stench of stale and dung, and several christs dragging their crosses toward the mountains, forever rigid in space and time.Then the path slopes down, with small houses to either side, barking dogs, and Bernando's Bar. I enter the plaza, to complete the loop.

In an Aikido dojo, having been away a long time, I sit and watch students practicing, feeling inadequate to join them. I tell the sensei,"I must return to the fundamentals." "You were good at them," he laughs, and points to the floor, on which footprints are painted, plotting the moves.

 

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