Saturday, June 1, 2013

Only in New Mexico...

So we went into town yesterday to pick up some prescriptions at the pharmacy and take a friend her mail from her PO box out in the country here. We stopped by the Target on the way out of town to get some cat food, allergy meds, headache potions, cleaners, that sort of thing.

As we were in the soaps, lotions and salves aisle, I could hear a woman across the way talking to her friend, who she apparently hadn't seen for years. Her friend had just retired and was enjoying not having to go to work any more (yeah, well, it has its charms!). Meanwhile the first lady was telling her, "You know we still live in the East Mountains -- we always have. These days, I don't even like to come into town anymore. I much prefer to just sit up on the hill watching the world go by and nature take its course."  Yes, kind of the way we feel, too, though we're not up on a hill so much as down in a valley. But the feeling is just the same. I wanted to say to her, "You go girl!"

Then we started heading down an aisle toward the back of the store where the food products are. Passing coffees, teas, and Postum (they still have that? Oh, I guess they have to what with Mormons and all), a man, his wife (I assumed) and their daughter (I assumed) turned in front of us from a cross aisle. He was happily yabbering away as they inspected the merchandise. Then there was a crash in the cross aisle. He looked back, and he turned to us and said, "Did you hear that? Ghosts! Come look!"

I said, "You're kidding."

He said, "No, no! Oh my God! Ghosts! Come see!"

I looked down the aisle, and it appeared a broom had fallen from a rack into the aisle. Then there was another crash, something else from the same display, not sure quite what it was, fell with a thud onto the floor and skittered into the aisle.

"See! See! Ghosts! My God! Oh my God! This place is haunted!"

"Well, I suppose so," I said, noncommittally. "You weren't anywhere near it, were you?"

"No, I swear. You saw for yourself. We weren't anywhere near it and things just started flying down.... Oh my God!"

"Will wonders never cease," I said. "You never know what'll happen next."

By now his wife had big eyes and his daughter was clinging to her leg comfortingly. He said, "I swear, every time I come into this place, something like that happens. I tell you, (sotto voce), this store is haunted." The little family then crept away, while we proceeded to check out the books and magazines before we headed to the registers to pay for our things.

I have been in many Targets in many places, but never, ever, has someone told me the store was haunted, or that ghosts were patrolling the aisles, knocking things from racks and shelves. Nor, for that matter, had I ever before seen anything spontaneously detach from a display and throw itself to the floor. But here in New Mexico, you sort of take it for granted...

(It's a reminder, in some ways, of Nasario Garcia's lengthy studies of Brujeria in Northern New Mexico -- and elsewhere in Latin America --which he has compiled in books to read such as: Brujas, Bultos Y Brasas, Tales of Witchcraft and the Supernatural in the Pecos Valley ... just saying.)

Maybe it's all the espiritus y fantasmas in town that keep the lady up on the hill as well...

[Actually, from what I understand, the location of the Target between I-40 and Lomas/ Eubank and Juan Tabo is considered a somewhat spirit-haunted location. Not so long ago, it was quite a distance out of town on the way up to Tijeras Canyon, and the area was pretty wild and open country. I haven't looked into the stories or the why of it all in any detail, but indications are that one was to tread lightly when one passed through...]

We got our things and headed back home. We took the remnant Route 66 instead of the freeway over the Tijeras pass -- as many do. It's generally a pleasanter, less harried drive with many fewer big rigs squeezing their way through. Some people get annoyed at the often stately pace at which traffic tends to travel on 66. It's now designated NM Highway 333, but we know what it really is, even without the historic highway markers. While we often see squadrons of motorcyclists and bicyclists enjoying the route, we had never before seen a pod of Vespa-riders go by as we did yesterday. They were quite a sight!

People use Route 66 for all kinds of reasons, from the historical and nostalgic to the leisurely and mundane. We take it because it is slower and less crowded, and the scenery is delightful, whether it is snowing in the winter or, like now, the trees are trying to come into full leaf in the midst of this ongoing drought and the wild flowers on the roadsides are bravely blooming no matter the utter lack of moisture...

As we neared our turnoff -- we were still a couple of miles away -- the car which had been well in front of us suddenly seemed to get closer very fast. Though I could see no brake lights or turn signals, it appeared to have come to a stop in the roadway. I slammed on the brakes and the stuff in the back of the van (including an air conditioner I'd been carrying around for a while as I was not quite ready to install it yet...) flew toward the front compartment. Yikes! Thankfully, there was a barrier and screen that kept anything in the back from reaching the passenger area, but still... The car that appeared to have stopped turned to the right into a gravel driveway just before I thought we would clip its hind end. No brake lights, no turn signals... ah New Mexico has the best drivers! We could tell you stories...

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