whose arrival in New Mexico disturbsnthem, perhaps because their Cathohcnfaith has sensitized them to the ironies ofnhistory. For the time being, however, thenPeople’s Republic of New Mexico remainsnmuch more Spanish and Indiannthan Mexican, in spite of having becomena completely developed welfare statenwhere the great majority of shoppers paynfor their groceries with Food Stamps, antax is levied on every imaginable transaction,nand residents with a convenientnlandfill available to them prefer to haulntheir garbage out of town and dump itnanywhere in the desert.nAt Albuquerque thick clouds of dustnblew out of the valley from the dry cutsnmade by earthmovers preparing for thenadvance of a modern city of half a millionnpeople, its towers glinting dully in anhaze of topsoil and smoke. South of thenmetropolis, Interstate 25 crosses the rivernslipping between banks of rustling canenand the cottonwood bosques burrednwith their dead, light, resistant leavesnwhere some years ago, riding horseback, Instarted thousands of wintering geese andncranes that rose in a single broad sheetnlike the surface of the water lifting away.nMountains—the Mazanos, San Matteos,nSan Andreas—rose starkly from the gravelnplains stretching west and east: the drynbrown sterile-looking mountains of thenSouthwest, their sharp peaks darkenednby pine forests resembling at a distancencloud-shadow cast against the brilliantnsky. Beyond the Jornada del Muerto, thendesert corridor where Spanish travelersndied of thirst or were murdered bynApache raiders, uncertain vistas openednaway through rugged mountain passes.nTexture, form, color; blue, tan, beige,ngray, and gold. . . . Los Lunas, Tome, Belen,nJarales, Bernardo, Lajoya, Socorro:nSpanish towns still inhabited by many ofnthe families who settled them thoughntheir wealth is nowadays invested in carndealerships and real estate instead of innpeons, cattle, and sheep. Socorro, whosenlow roofs are punctuated by the spiresnand belfries of many churches, was invadednafter the Mexican-American Warnby the victorious Texans who stole landnfrom the Spanish settlers, drove theirnsheep from the range to make room forntheir own cattle, and forced many ofnthem to flee into Mexico. Already thensnowbirds were arriving for the winter, elderiyncouples with blue hair and no hairnin Southwinds and Winnebagos fromnIllinois, Ohio, and Indiana driving slowlynand craning their necks as if worried forn50/CHRONICLESntheir next meal. South of Truth or Consequencesna road sign indicated thenturnoff to Silver City across the BlacknRange where Billy the Kid was raised andnserved his first brief jail term (madenshorter still by an escape up the chimneynafter two days) for hiding a bag of laundryn”stolen” by an older man for a joke.nAt Hatch, “Chili Capital of the World,”nthe river rode silver between constrainingnbanks across green fields past housesnfrom which the blue smoke rose in softnperpendicular columns toward the hazynsilhouette of the Organ Pipe Mountainsnmany miles distant, and fins of rock likengigantic gnomons pointed south towardnenigmatic Mexico. Darkness fell as Inskirted the Franklin Mountains but ElnChristo Rey, seeming to gather light tonits alabaster form out of a dying sky, wasnvisible on its barren peak awaiting nightnand the passage of drug smugglers withntheir guns and pack animals across thendesert plain. On Cood Friday the peoplenof Ciudad Juarez climb to the foot of thenstatue on their knees, in penance forntheir sins.nThe following day, December then12th, the Feast of Our Lady ofnCuadalupe, Patron Saint of the Americas,nI crossed the footbridge from El Pasonand followed the Avenida Juarez to thencathedral plaza where Indians stripped tonthe waist in the 40-degree cold, withnbells and rattles tied to their ankles,ndanced barefoot on the stone flaggingnbeneath headdresses of red and yellownfeathers. A single dancer wore on hisnshoulders a cape embroidered with thenimage of Our Lady, commemorating hernappearance to Juan Diego in 1531. (Historiansnand cultural anthropologists havenspeculated that it is the Aztec goddessnTonantzin, also called Coatlicue—“Ladynof the Serpent Skirt”—who is actuallynbeing worshiped in the guise of thenBlessed Virgin.) The big cathedral organnthrobbed behind the beat of drums andnthe rattle of tom-toms, while the bellringersnhigh above the plaza seized holdnof the clappers and swung them backnand forth inside the bells, which pealednloudly above the crowed. A fat old womannunder five feet tall wearing a shabbynpink sweater and bedroom slippers hoverednat the edge of the dance, and nownand again imitated its steps. Beyond thendancers a man sold candied cactus andnpeople sat eating under a canvas tent,nwhile another man bearing with outstretchednarms an enormous festive cakenon a board hurried across the street to­nnnward the mission. A crowd stood gatherednbeneath palm trees studying anmime as he powdered his face and adjustednhis bulbous nose, another aroundna clown and his straight man in the rolesnof an outraged father and disobedientnson. The great bells clanged for Mass asnthe procession made its way across thenplaza, led by ecclesiastical dignitariesnunder banners. These were followed byna lengthy train through the wide doorsnstanding open upon the packed church:nthe halt, the blind, and the lame; the disfigured,nthe sick, the simple poor of Mexico.nAbove the roll of the organ thendrums and tom-toms were audible, stillnbeating their savage tattoo, while in thenbelltowers the ringers leaned outwardnabove the low railing, leering like gargoylesnamong the agitated pigeons.nAnnunciation House was a wedge ofngrimy red brick pinched between convergingnstreets in downtovxTi El Paso; flienDecember twilight was well advancednwhen I arrived there at five o’clock.nLounging men made way for me to enternthrough the door standing open on thensala, its walls covered with maps andnflags of various Central American countriesnand drawings of the Virgin. Of then10 or 15 people in the room only twonsmall boys pushing toy cars over the rugnseemed engaged, everyone else maintainingnan attitude of patient obligationnlike reluctantly gathered relatives waitingnfor Christmas dinner to be served. Thenproprietress wore no makeup and hadnher brown hair cut short and plain. Shenseemed pleasant but a little narrow, innthe way of people who believe that realitynis hard and that whoever disagreesnwith this proposition is a sentimentalist.nIn one of the small plainly furnishednrooms upstairs a party of refugees seatednon improvised benches at wooden tablesnate a supper of rice and beans, while anvolunteer prepared an improvised chapelnfor the arrival of the priest from Juarez,nwhere Annunciation maintains a sisternhouse. “I’ll probably end up going downnthere,” Helen said. “You should hear ann11-year-old boy describe what it’s like tonlive in a war zone. Our relations with thenpolice are pretty good, considering whatnit is we’re doing. But my view of thosenImmigration people is unspeakable.nWhat does the earth look like in picturesntaken from space? The divisions are betweennland and water, not one countrynand another. I suppose that’s hopelesslynidealistic, but anyway. Good night.”nn