Travel Guide to New Mexico

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Photo by Fotolia/Natalia Bratslavsky
There will be only enough water for the people here and for the towns and farms we already have. The Navy says it takes a minimum of seven gallons of water per day to sustain a man.

We don’t have magic wands in New Mexico.

If we could make it all beautiful, we would start with what
we have. We would give the land peace and give the land
water.

The snow pack in the mountains here this year is bad news.
It is from 35 percent to 38 percent below average. Even in
a normal year, this is one of the driest states in the
country.

Water will be short this summer. There will be only enough
for the people here and for the towns and farms we already
have. The Navy says it takes a minimum of seven gallons of
water per day to sustain a man. In New Mexico, labor camps
by law must allow 35 gallons per man, per day for survival.
It takes more water here to survive. This year, there will
be barely enough.

With a dry summer, the government — which owns about 75
percent of the land here — closes the forest because of
fire hazard. Even in wet years, there is a fourteen-day
camping limit for everyone. During the dry years when the
fire hazard is high, no camping is allowed. Some years all
but the paved roads on government lands are closed. That
happened in ’67.

This means camping will be limited, which is a hangup
because it’s hard to find a place to live, and there’s
nothing available for rent. Most places are full, and the
ones that aren’t rented are 125 dollars and up a month. There’s no
place to crash. The communes have mostly closed their
doors, and the rest of the heads won’t take anyone but
friends.

If you’re coming, at least don’t be like the teeny boppers
and the trippers that came before. Be able to take care of
yourself so you won’t put the locals up by being stupid.

The nights are cold, even in the summer. Bring heavy work
clothes, a warm sleeping bag, and some heavy work boots or
shoes. Bring staples like rice and other food that won’t
spoil. The markets are limited. Bring implements like a
shovel and axe so you can help yourself when you have
trouble. You can use the shovel to dig latrines. Bring a
tent or a canvas tarp for shelter when you can’t find a
place to sleep or live. Bring halizone tablets to purify
the water so you won’t get sick, and bring your own eating
and cooking utensils.

Bring bread. There aren’t any jobs. There’s not much bread.
Almost everyone trades for what he wants. Bring a
kerosene-type stove. If the fire hazard is bad, no one is
going to let you light a fire.

Before you come (if you come), learn about the locals.

There are three cultures here and you are not in the
majority. Here, you’re in the minority like every other
Anglo.

The Spanish-Americans value respect and dignity. They are
insulted by newcomers, especially heads, making remarks and
not understanding the way things are. Mother, church, home
and family are the important things, and you should never
insult them.

Most important, they are Spanish-Americans, not Mexicans.
Don’t call them Mexicans, because they aren’t.

If you are trying to buy land, you should be cool about it
with the Spanish-Americans. They are poor people and they
resent someone waving around a lot of bread. And remember,
there’s not much land left here to buy.

The Indians are another piece. Just because you have beads
and feathers they are not inclined to accept you as their
long lost brothers and sisters. It’s very insulting to the
Indians to see hips dressed like Indians. Don’t steal other
peoples’ customs. It’s ridiculous and maudlin to them.

The basis of the entire Indian culture is tradition. Change
comes slowly if at all. Remember, you’ve come to learn
something — not to teach — and you learn on their time, at
their speed.

Don’t trespass on Indian land, and don’t visit sacred
Indian shrines unless you are invited by a sober Indian.

The Anglos here are all new people, even the straight. We
all got here last, but the straights have most of the bread
and a lot of them won’t serve hips in their restaurants and
won’t sell to the hips.

The communes are almost all closed to newcomers. They are
overcrowded and most places don’t welcome new people. There
is a 1-day visit limitation currently in effect. They have
been burned. Most of them came here to do something, and
it’s hard to work around people trying to crash. If you
want to do something, do it yourself. Don’t shoulder in on
someone else’s thing. You can do the same thing they’ve
done in Montana, Utah, Nevada and other places on your own.

If you have an infectious disease, don’t come. There are
two hospitals to serve a county as big as L.A. county, and
they are understaffed and they don’t have any money. A lot
of doctors turn hips away. People out here don’t have much
bread. Even the doctors, who treat a lot of the
Spanish-Americans free.

Don’t burn people. If you don’t have the money, don’t take
their goods.

Be cool in everything, everywhere.