Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Coronado National Memorial

Benson, Arizona

We're staying in Benson for a little over a week to visit with Mrs. Phred's sister and our brother-in-law, Tom. The quiet desert is a sharp contrast to their New York City loft where they lived for many years next to the World Trade Center before it was trashed by 9/11 debris. When we visited there the sounds of the City (car alarms, sirens, screams of sidewalk vagrants) made it hard to sleep.

We decide on dinner in Brisbee about 60 miles south. It's a copper mining town with some similarity to Butte, Montana. Lot's of old brick storefronts. Mrs. Phred buys some new clothes in the Pantera Gallery before our dinner in the Roka cafe.

It's a four course menu. I have the lamb meat balls with cous-cous and Mrs. Phred and her sister both have quail. Tom explains that the proper way to eat quail is to cover your head with a napkin like a tent, put your hands behind your back and mash your face in it. I begin to suspect he is joking me when they don't bring out the tent-sized napkins with the meals.

However, Tom assures me he is reporting the truth about a French custom and so I Google "cover your head  with a napkin and eat birds" only to find that at least one restaurant in France offers a $4,000 meal in this fashion made from illegally obtained small birds called Ortolans that migrate up from Africa. The species is in serious decline in France as the result of unenforced hunting laws. Apparently it is eaten whole (bones and all) with a napkin over ones head and hands behind the back. A culinary experience for two priced at $4,000.

On the way to dinner we stop at the Coronado National Memorial. It's not that much. Just five or six paintings in a visitor center explaining his expedition from Mexico City to Kansas in search of cities made of gold. It's on the Mexican border. About every other vehicle we pass is a Border Patrol truck. They could have put the memorial almost anywhere based on his travels, which, by the way, preceded the Lewis and Clark expedition by nearly 300 years.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was searching for the golden cities based on a report from one of the four survivors of the 600 members of the Navarez expedition. Cabeza De Vaca (Head of a Cow) was treasurer of the ill-fated expedition and one of four men that escaped Indian captivity, hurricanes, disease and near starvation to emerge from the wilderness in Mexico City after wandering for eight years. Cabeza's family name was awarded by the King of Spain. Cabeza started his overland journey in Tampa Bay only two blocks from our old Florida house and wandered and floated on rafts in an epic journey to Mexico city. Along the the way he was captured by indigenous tribes and gained great celebrity among them as a medicine man. He was often traded between tribes and earned a very steep purchase price after apparently bringing one patient back from the dead.

Those old Spaniards were tough as nails and they were all hoping to duplicate the earlier feats of Hernando Cortez who conquered a nation of 5,000,000 with 1,500 soldiers. He brought back a lot of loot to Spain and left some of it in the sands of Florida after his galleons sank in fierce storms. was pleasing to see a small peace group hoping for a change in Bisbee.

Aside from the rather fantastic exploits and intrigues of Cortez,  I might want to consider making a movie called "The Nine Burials of Hernando Cortez". You can read about this uber weirdness in the Cortez Wiki link above. It includes the 1981 attempt to destroy his bones. Destroying 500 year old bones is a strange political quest. In fact, it makes my own creation off the quasi-terrorist organization  SLAMM seem relatively rational. You probably remember the headlines when my Society for Liberation of All Marine Mammals donned SCUBA gear and black wetsuits and dynamited the locks at midnight holding in the dolphins at Florida's Marine Land. Imagine our chagrin when they all returned at feeding time the next day for fresh fish. They never caught me for dynamiting the dolphin pens or for freeing "Willy" the Orca whale at 4 AM one quiet Sunday morning in 1981. Willy never came back.

1 comment:

  1. Mrs Phred and sister look a lot alike. Go figure. It's fun to visit w/family. Continue safe travels.