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Mr. Chini and the TNHP

I dare say that those of you who don’t like history don’t like history because of all the names, titles and dates that come with it.

For example, Mr. Chini was born Eusebius Francis Chini in 1654 in Central Europe which at that time was called the Holy Roman Empire. And, as you will recall from your high school cheat sheet, it, by which I mean the Holy Roman Empire, consisted of many countries, cities, states, city states, counties, castles, highlands, lowlands, clans and religions, all of which passed the time by playing “Game of War,” the object of which was to defeat your elder brother.

Mr. Chini

Mr. Chini

Of course, all of this gaming needed people in charge and people not in charge each of whom required a title and, therefore, we have, in no paricular order, “emperor,” “pope,” “priest,” “prince elector,” “lord,” “knight,” “duke,” minor and major “counts,” “bishop,” “archbishop,” “prince,” “abbot,” “prince abbot,” “elder,” “master,” “marques,” “friar,” “vasel,” “peasant,” “padre,” “bro,” “cuate,” “hermano” and “king” of which there were many. The ladies, of course, also had titles, one of which was “lady,” but we will not go there. Suffice it to say that they also played “Game of War” and though few had the “moxies” of Kate Upton, they played it very well.

If you start counting from Christmas Day, year 800, as you should, the Holy Roman Empire lasted for just over 1000 years, until 1808—a period which, obviously, makes for a whole lot of dates like, for example, 1492, 1517, 1521, 1540, 1540 and 1540 plus 1691, 1767, 1768 and 1821. You should remember those dates, and to help you do so I have prepared the following summary:

  • 1492     Columbus who, as you know, discovers America by which we mean that he rediscovers the Caribbean a few thousand years after several small groups of curious Koreans walked over to the “new” world just to see what was there.
  • 1517     Friar Martin Luther places his 95 theses on the door of All Saints’ Church to protest the “nepotism, simony, usury, pluralism, and sale of indulgences” by any of the Church hiearchy ranked above friar. And thus began the Protestant Reformation.
  • 1521    This was the year the conquistadores finally destroyed the Aztec Empire for the good of the Crown and glory of the Church. Historians believe they were able to do this because the Spanish, by which I mean those who were from Greece, Morocco, France, Italy and Portugal plus a few Jews from Spain who thought it a far better gig than being burned at the stake, had been playing “Game of War: Fire Age” while the Aztecs were still playing “Game of War: Clash of Clans.”
  • 1540    The year 4’ 6” Ignatius de Loyola, being too short to play basketball at that university, organized the Society of Jesus (aka SJ, aka the Jesuits) to combat the Protestant Reformation by chasing down blaspheming Lutherans who kept breaking into subgroups just to confuse the Papists. The Jesuits were, by origin, the younger sons of wealthy landowners and as such, had no shot at inheriting land and title from their fathers as these were saved for the elder sons. Instead, the younger sons were trained at the best universities land and title could buy. Then, with nothing else to do, they became Jesuit priests. Meanwhile:
  • 1540    John Calvin continued the Protestant Reformation by accusing the Lutherans of “nepotism, simony, usury, pluralism, and sale of indulgences” and they, in turn, accused him of heresy.
  • 1540    And, just to make history interesting, Antoine Saunier joins Antoine Froment in accusing the Calvinists of believing in baptism by sprinkle instead of baptism by dunk. The Calvinists accuse Antoine of stealing from the poor box. Most of the Sauniers, however, remain loyal to the Pope.
  • 1691   On what is probably his only visit to the place, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino SJ (aka Mr. Chini) arrives in Tumacácori to establish one of his early missions. Padre Kino labored in the fields of northern Mexico and southern Arizona for 20 years and established 24 missions, each with its farm and ranch enteprises and trade schools. When he died in Magdalena, Mexico in 1711 he became a future binational hero; the friars who had been sent to the mission at Tumacácori, however, were still trying to figure out how to fund a church building program when in . . .
  • 1767   The King of Spain decided that the really smart, supurbly organized, politically adept, and well resourced Jesuits were some kind of a threat; that is, they preferred to minister to the Indians than to the Spanish colonists which meant that their loyalties were to the Pope rather than to the King. He has them all arrested then force marched hundreds of miles to the sea for a long voyage back to Spain where the survivors were “cloistered” for the rest of their lives. However, the memory of the Jesuits lingers in the New World by which I mean the local folk still firmly believe that the Jesuits were very rich what with all those cows, farms, landed parents and dozens of plumbers and electricians paying union dues.
  • 1768   Friars of the Franciscan Order take over the work of the Jesuits including the mission at Tumacácori and, in the spirit of true partisanship, begin to build a church that will outshine the dinky little ediface that the Jesuits had built. But, for lack of funding, it is all downhill from there for the Tumacácori Mission until . . .
  • 1821  The succesful Mexican Revolution; so succesful that funding for the church building program at Tumacácori is renewed until Mexico evicts anyone not born there including a large number of the Franciscan missionaries. The church at Tumacácori is never finished—indeed, it seems to have gone backwards given a war with the United States, fights with the Apaches, an earthquake, floods, rain and other acts of God. Additional damage is caused by thieves who tear off the roof for the timber and take out walls and the floor looking for Jesuit treasures of gold and jewels but find only the remains of two unfortunate Franciscan friars buried there long after the Jesuits had left by which I mean the Jesuits had nothing to do with building the building that supposedly held the non-existant Jesuit riches.

    San Jose de Tumacácori

    San José de Tumacácori

The moral of this story, of course, is that although you may not like it, you gotta think a bit about history before digging up all manner of sacred ground to find a treasure that was not buried there ever.

San José de Tumacácori

San José de Tumacácori

Tumacácori is beautiful, the Tumacácori National Historical Park (TNHP) is awesome and the staff is great; but I’m still not allowed to give tours.

California and Mexican poppies at Tumacácori National Historical Park

California and Mexican poppies at Tumacácori National Historical Park

Come visit.

r/

Philosophizing

Active searches for Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest seem to slow in late fall and stop altogether during winter—kind of the opposite of what the Mountain Men did. Beaver pelts reached their best quality during these periods and though the trappers had to hunker down during the heaviest snows and when temperatures in the mountains dropped to bone chilling levels, the work of trapping went on. And when outside activity was impossible, they stayed in their crudely built huts or in their buffalo skin tipis, told lies to one another and “philosophized.” So, since winter is here and my sweet wife is now deep into remodeling our 17’ long Casita (which we will take to Southern Arizona where we are volunteers at the Tumacacori National Historic Park), for the next couple of months this blog will do the same (by which I mean I also will tell lies and philosophize). Here goes.

One of the topics that often comes up when people discuss the places they love is a concept called “Sense of Place.” You may not call it that, but I’ve no doubt that you have felt it.

There are hundreds of writings out there that discuss the topic. Architects, land-use planners of various kinds, conservationists, deep ecologists, photographers and a sociologist or two, write most of them.

Some of the writings are scholarly tomes, others are scientific studies and others are just downright beautiful descriptions of a specific place that, if read alone late at night, bring moist eyes and throat lumps.

Still, though the musings on a sense of place are each different from the other, they do have some things in common. For example, I dare you to read any of them without stopping from time to time just to remold the concept and make it your own. Other similarities are that they describe places that demand either protection or attention; and, though the descriptions are deeply felt, they are often preceded or followed by a statement that the concept itself, is “fuzzy.”

I had never really thought about that “fuzziness” thing until one day a friend and I were riding along in his old jeep station wagon with the observation deck on top somewhere between Rowe and Las Vegas (New Mexico). We were discussing a recent photography book that had a page or two on a sense of place and he asked me what I thought it meant.

Having never thought about it at any depth, and therefore I could opine, I offered the first thing that came to mind: “Banter,” I said, “It has to do with banter.”

Fortunately, we were fast approaching the corner where we were to make a very important turn lest we wind up in Trementina rather than Watrous and the conversation died.

That was a while ago and now that I have had time to think about it, I find the statement that, among other things, a sense of place has to do with “banter,” to be perfectly justifiable. You see, a solution to the fuzziness problem can be helped along if, instead of emphasizing “place,” as most writers do, you emphasize “sense,” as most don’t.

Emphasizing “sense” rather than “place” takes you to what you feel and understand about a place rather than to what you see and think you know. It has to do as much with what is inside of you as it does with what is out there in front of you.

If you can banter within that place, it says that you are comfortable there. You know enough about it to hold an intelligent conversation. You can make jokes with those with whom you trust and defend yourself when things get more serious. Likewise, you know enough of the culture and language to recognize the difference between a “tease” and an “insult.” But, in addition to its beauty, you know enough of the dangers of that place to be cautious but not afraid. And, you know where you are, even if you are lost.

I’ve no doubt that Forrest understands the concept very well; that is why he has a specific place that has meaning to him, a place where significant life passages were taken, where he conquered beasts within, where he learned a great deal because of the battles that were lost as well as won, where he smiled and laughed the smiles and laughs of freedom, and, because of all this, it is a place where he would like to be buried. If we discover just where that site is, we have found the treasure. And, I am convinced we will also have discovered one of the Earth’s beautiful places. As far as I can tell, his aesthetic choices have always been impeccable. That, however, has only a small part to play in the concept of a “Sense of Place.”

Coincidence?

More than a while ago, I left the United States mid-winter for Brazil. I thought I had packed just right for the temperature there but, it turned out, I was several degrees short. So on one of our long lunch breaks, I went off to find a new shirt and bought one that was kind of splotchy with light blue and light tan and light white splotches; it made me look very Brazilian.
A couple of years later I was in a hotel in Amman, Jordan having a normal Jordanian hotel breakfast while pretending I was a Brazilian when I looked up from my chickpea, pita bread, yoghurt, cucumber and two olives to see a guy sitting on the other side of the room with the exact same shirt as the one I had on; same blue, tan and white splotches with the same elegant Brazilian cut, eating the exact same meal I had had the night before at a friend’s home which consisted of chickpea, pita bread, yoghurt, cucumber and a big dish of olives. Was it just a “coincidence” or was it a Soviet spy playing with my head?
How about this one: one of my now aging nephews went by Cairo, Egypt a year or so after his college graduation to see his parents before he went off to count refugees from the Vietnam War. While in Cairo he decided that he really had to climb a pyramid—the big one—just to see if he could. So, one dark night, as he neared the apex of his climb, he heard voices. He got to the summit and there seated on that small space was a young couple half of which was a high-school classmate who may or may not have been an ex-girlfriend. He won’t say. Was it just a “coincidence” or was it a “payback” she had conjured up say…six years earlier?
I have a friend from the old Chile days that I have seen maybe five times in the last 45 years—all of them chance meetings in places like a street in Mexico City, a restaurant in Guatemala, a hotel in Quito and, once, in the men’s room in the San Jose, Costa Rica airport where, while I was just standing there staring at the wall trying to figure out why someone had drawn all those small, weird looking civil war canons, a guy slides in beside me and starts yakking about a subject that seemed familiar. It was his final point to a discussion we had been having five years before. “Coincidence?”
The web machine is full of people trying to figure out just what a “coincidence” actually is. As far as I can tell, they come in three kinds, by which I mean the people.

There are the mathematicians-statisticians, who, after many, many pages of very dense statistical stuff normally found only in my nightmares, who conclude that there is one chance in a gazillion billion that they will ever get it right.

There is the “God Group” whose answer is immediate and with absolute certainty that it is their “Friend on High” who had it all planned out a few thousand years ago.

And then there is the third group made up of even more confident folk who say that “There ain’t no such damn thing as a ‘coincidence,’ no matter how much something may look like one.”

I normally fall in one or the other of the three groups depending on the latest made-up conspiracy theory from “Breitbart” and whether or not my lovely wife has made us a sandwich of chick pea, yoghurt, and cucumber salad stuffed into pita bread along with all the olives I can eat.
Now, to put all of this into the context of why you are wasting your time reading it, I know of a small lake somewhere north of Santa Fe that I am absolutely almost certain that Forrest Fenn also knows, and the name of that lake is the same as that of a clan of Forrest Fenn’s not so long-lost relatives who probably homesteaded the place. “Coincidence,” you say? I doubt that’s what you are doing because what you are really doing is wondering just where on earth that lake may be.
Fine. But what I’m doing is wondering what happened to that splotchy shirt? And the troubling part of that is that I’ll surely find it long before any of us find Forrest Fenn’s treasure.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
r/

Sleuthyguy as Dance Judge

Forrest lets us know that he has no affection for Dancing with the Stars although it took until page 139 of his Memoir to let it be known. That, however, doesn’t mean he doesn’t dance. Doesn’t mean he does either.

But I suspect that since he has always had that outgoing personality and given the photograph of the dapper young fellow on page 46 of that same Memoir, at least by Texas standards, what with the wide lapels and fresh haircut, at one time he knew the rudiments of dancing. Besides, he had a lovely Sweetheart and if the students at Temple High had any sense they surely named them their high school’s “Favorite Couple” and even with his being a Southern Baptist and all, there is little chance that he was a total wallflower. Besides, the photo of that authoritative expression wearing a Temple letter sweater and white socks that sits on the fender of “Bullet” (Page 52 of Too Far to Walk—part two of his Memoir) kind of proves it.

And, what kind of a dancer was he? If I were forced to say, I’d say that he was more like a Sandhill Crane than a Broad-tailed Hummingbird and the differences are, ahh, large:

The Broad-tailed weighs in at a little over a tenth of an ounce while the Sand-hill comes in over ten and a half pounds.

The Broad-tailed has a wingspan of five and a quarter inches and an overall length of four inches whereas the Sandhill’s wingspan is six feet plus and its length nearly four feet.

And the dancing is likewise a mismatch. That of the Broad-tailed male is aimed at a specific object of his “affection” who just sits there watching and measuring it all, by which I mean there is a whole lot of horizontal figure eights over a space of a couple of feet and then a series of flights of sixty or seventy feet straight up and then straight down. Once he wins that pretty little thing, he is on to the next.

Then the poor gal gets to build the nest herself—a labor of about a week at four hours a day in which over thirty trips an hour are made. The result is a nest of anything small and fluffy and enough spider-web to hold it all together. In the end it resembles an empty half of a walnut shell camouflaged with a bit of moss.

On the other hand, the dance of the Sandhill is a lot of bowing and curtsying, and jumping by lifelong partners who seem to be gargling with several pints of Sprite each to keep their hydration up. And then all the neighbors join in the fun until the whole wetland resembles a full-blown rave at its height with most of the moves you would expect: head-banging, jumping, fist-pumping, shtomping—even twirking, a whole lot of twirking.

Sandhill nest building is likewise totally different from that of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Both parents are involved; it takes place far to the north and is the work of individual pairs.

On our very first search for Forrest’s treasure almost four years ago my wife and I stumbled on a nest-building duo just a few yards from where many believe Forrest’s “inadvertent” clue in Too Far to Walk will lead them and that was a long time before he decided to mistakenly put that “clue” out there for all of us to see.

We found nothing of the treasure, of course; but what we did find was a pair of Sandhill Cranes building their nest in the lee of a small island that had formed in the middle of a river. They were standing together and every 20-30 seconds the male would bend down to pluck a stick or a leaf or a two-needled lodgepole pine fascicle from the water as the stick or leaf or fascicle floated by. He would then toss what he had found to his mate who would add it to the pile of other sticks and leaves and fascicles and then sit on them, wiggle a bit, stand up, adjust the pile some and try again. We watched until dark and though we weren’t formally introduced, we called them “Bubba” and “Peggy.”

Peace,

r/

shc madison

Peggy and Bubba nest building on the Madison.

ps If you are at all interested in Sandhill Crane dancing, it is precisely this time of year when some 30,000 of them show up along the middle Rio Grande. Take a trip to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge just south of Socorro, New Mexico to meet up with about 10-15 thousand of them along with what seem to be a million light geese, some hawks and eagles and coyotes, a gazillion ducks of several varieties and an equal number of tourists—also of several varieties. Maybe we will see you there.

Gone

Like all guys, those of us going through our early teenage years in northern New Mexico were borderline perverts and certifiably stupid. We laughed in all the wrong places, threw rocks at one another, blew things up, had acne, and became experts at snapping wet towels at bare buttocks in communal showers. Worse, we thought that “yinyang” was the funniest word that anyone had ever invented.

And then we were forced to take a class called “The History of World Civilizations” taught by a snarky immigrant from Ohio who, as he conned us into reading what became our very first real book, said that even we had a place in there somewhere.

It worked though. Mike whizzed through eight years of college in four years and became a scientist at Los Alamos. Bobby was a standout tackle at New Mexico Highlands on his way to becoming a history teacher himself. And, though raised with a whole bunch of syblings in a one-room adobe just off NM 285, Walter was voted most likely to succeed and became a respected politician.

Those friends are gone now, taken out in three separate automobile accidents along dark New Mexico roads. But we learned something in that class: that there were a great many other fascinating places that the Española Valley did not encompass, that things were a whole lot more complex than fishing the Rio Grande, that wars have been with us forever, and that yin yang was much, much, more than our word for the human nether regions.

That ancient Chinese notion of interrelated opposites: of “light and dark,” of “hot and “cold,” of “illness and health,” and, especially of “home and away” fascinated us because it seemed that both the yin and the yang of “place” were required if either “home” or “away” were to have any real meaning.

And that is why my lovely wife and I are once again homeless.

We’ve had a case of the “goings” for awhile but for many reasons it didn’t happen and now, all of a sudden, we are gone. We’ve sold the house that we built and the home that we loved and traded it all for a small rv trailer decorated with wild flowers and filled with the aroma of well-brewed coffee. We’ve moved on to new adventures; to add new friends and to nurture our time with old ones.

Have we spurned Santa Fe? Sporatically. Santa Fe is a tough place to get rid of.

Do we still chase after treasure? Absolutely. “Thrill” has a way of growing on you.

Is this the end of “Mountainwalk?” Nah. Sending y’all down fruitless paths is way too much fun.

/rCultures-Yin-Yang-icon

Intuition

My wife, bless her heart, can walk up to any dog, anywhere, and say, “Hi Sweetie,” stick out her hand and after a sniff or two, scratch it behind the ears. Dogs just seem to know.

If she sees a cat, she says, “Hi, Sweetie,” and in five seconds, the cat is on her lap being scratched under the chin. Cats just seem to know.

The first time I saw her, from thirty yards away without knowing if she was married, engaged, or otherwise compromised, I just seemed to know that my single days were over and that was almost exactly fifty-three years, 30 days and four hours ago.

It shouldn’t have happened, of course. I had years of schooling left and I had no money. There were things I wanted to do, places I wanted to see, and there were friendships that would not let go. And yet I knew.

Five years later, after finishing a long stretch of graduate work, we were invited to Chile. In many ways, it meant the postponement of a career that I had planned for since the age of thirteen. It meant a new culture, a new language and new challenges. And on this side, there were aging parents and promises made. And yet, we knew.

It is a marvelous thing, this thing that evolution has given us. Certainly intuition is often at odds with reason, its younger sibling, but that is only because we let it happen. When we use the lobe of our brain responsible for reason, our response is slow. We need data, we need analysis, we need conversation and we need time. Further, there appear to be a number of cells and synapses that continuously jump in front the reason train to slow things down even more.

Intuition is different. It resides on the other side of the brain and is variously described as “instinct,” a “sixth sense,” a “gut feeling,” a “hunch,” a “tug at the heart,” and, I suppose, “muscle memory” can also be thrown in. But if you take any of these descriptors and break them apart you will find that they are the result of millions of individual bits of information gathered by all of our senses throughout our personal histories that are then stored in the corners of our mind, in our subconscious, to be called upon when needed—even when we don’t realize they are needed.

And that is why I put number 19 in my list of 20 things to be aware of while searching for Forrest Fenn’s treasure (Intuition and the Art of Sleuthiness). It says, “Intuition is not an enemy.”

I still believe it.

r/

Me and Che

I’m wrong, I know. I‘ve asked all my friends who are linguists and anthropologists and they all agree: I’m wrong.

But it’s interesting nonetheless. Just look at what we have: several varieties of Apache in New Mexico, Arizona, and a bit of Texas and Mexico; the Comanche in Northern and Eastern New Mexico and a portion of the plains states; the Wehmenuche (Weeminuche), Moache, Parianuche bands of the Ute tribe in Colorado and New Mexico; the Nabedache and Nagadoche in East Texas; the Neche (also in Texas); the Natchitoche in Louisiana; the Monache in California and the Apaluchee in Florida.

Then, further south, we have the K’iche in Guatemala, Lache in Colombia, Mariche in Venezuela, Moche in Peru, and Aché in Paraquay.

Are you sensing something here? If not, consider this: in Southern Chile and Argentina the Arucanas are divided into the Pehuinche, Mapuche, Phuelche, Huilliche and Picunche. And, at least in these groups, the “che” part means “men” or “people” or “guys.” That is, the Pehuinche are the people from Pehuin, the Mapuche are the men from Mapu, and the Huilliche are the guys from Huilli. My friends say that there is no relationship between these “-ches” and all the other “-ches” and since they are the experts, I have come to accept that my theory is wrong.

Be that as it may, in the Southern Cone of South America the “che” part is now something that people call one another. It’s like saying “Hey Man,” “Que hubo, Bro?” and “What’s up Guy?” depending on where you were raised and when you grew up. Some of the young folk, especially in Argentina, use the term “Che” so often that each of them has been given the nick-name of “Che” as in Comandante Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine med student who joined Fidel Castro and his band of guerrilleros who came down out of the mountains of Cuba to depose the dictator, Fulgencia Batista. “Che” then thought he could do the same in Bolivia but failed completely.

Of course, I didn’t know “Che” Guevara but I do know his Bolivian guide, Rómulo, the then young fellow who kept “Che” alive for the few years he wandered around the Chiquitano dry forest of eastern Bolivia. Then, in 1967 “Che” was captured by the Bolivian military and the CIA and summarily executed (but only after everybody, including the CIA, got a 1960’s version of a “selfie” with him). The soldier who was told to kill him also got his pipe.

I got to know Rómulo when he was assigned to guide me around that same forest for a few days several years back. Rómulo is all of five feet tall, fearless and the owner of maybe two T-shirts, a pair of old chino knockoffs and an endurance that would make 100-mile ultra-marathon runners look like old men with creaky knees. As we searched out the trees of value to see if the forest enterprise in that area was behaving itself, a forest fire followed us and no one in that forest seemed to care, especially Rómulo, since all it did was flush out a whole lot of snakes and send billions of gold-green butterflies into streams of long gold-green tubes about three feet above the ground. All of them seemed to know where they were going no matter which part of the forest they took off in—just like Rómulo.

Chiquitano Dry Forest of Bolivia (Photo by John Morrison. Encyclopedia of Earth)

Chiquitano Dry Forest of Bolivia (Photo by John Morrison. Encyclopedia of Earth)

It was a bit difficult to keep up with him and though I carried oh, say a gallon of water, he carried only a small plastic bag filled with dried coca leaves. I followed him down unseen (by me) trails trying to keep his sweat wet t-shirt in view while keeping my distance because his shirt was covered with hundreds of bees—as was mine had I dared to look. From time to time he would stop to let me catch up and while I tossed down a good portion of my water, he would stick another coca leaf between his gums and teeth as we continued our conversations about Marx and the futility of the effort and ideas of his old buddy “Che.” I offered him a drink of water, which he declined, and he offered me a leaf, which I took. It didn’t help.

Though I could almost always identify a mature mahogany or cedar when standing under one, he could spot a six-inch seedling of these species from forty yards away. It was uncanny how he knew exactly where he was, when to stop and let a snake slither by, and what time of the day it was though he probably had never in his life seen a clock. And he always knew where he was going and what would be there when we arrived.

I guess guides are like that no matter if they are five feet tall or six feet two or if they are 20 years old or eighty. Forrest Fenn once belonged to that community so don’t under-estimate him just because he thinks he is getting old. He knows exactly where he is and where he’s been and where he wants to be. I wish I did—by which I mean I wish I knew where he’s been and where he wants to be because that is exactly where the treasure is.

Stay cool, r/

 

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