Friday, September 30, 2005

Touring day today. My special tour guide, Al, took me first up A Mountain, a small mountain (hill?) by Tucson that has a huge letter A on top of it. Symbol of the University of Arizona. Many stories about the painting of the A, and how each year newbies to UA have to climb up and repaint it. Great views of Tucson. And we also saw another road runner that stopped and posed so I could get a photo of it.
Then over Gates Pass. We diverted into the viewing area near the top, to interrupt half a dozen motor cycle police all neatly lined up with their shiny bikes having a photo taken. From the viewing point, we could see across to the mountains (including the observatory) and the water recharging area where they are taking water from the Colorado River and putting it back into the underground water table.
The mission of San Xavier was very old and beautiful. Many relics and icons and statues, as well as paintings on the walls. As it was a weekday, there weren't many tourists and it was very quiet and peaceful. Celebrations for St Francis of Assisi are coming up so the statue that they carry around was out of its resting place, ready for the ceremonies. They have candles that people light for blessings and prayers but you can only use the ones there which are specially developed so they don't make more soot and pollute the paintings. I only had my digital camera with flash inside so I hope the photos are light enough to see the details.
From there we drove to Tubac, which is a small town on the way to Nogales (Mexican border). Many craftspeople live and exhibit there - there are more than 20 shops selling everything from pots and garden ornaments to jewellery, Tshirts, paintings. sculptures, every kind of craft you can think of. Plus galleries showing artwork of all kinds. I saw many things that I would have loved to buy, especially some of the large pots and ceramics. There were also a lot of Indian crafts, including arrows, wall hangings and beadwork.
On the way back we were stopped by the Border Patrol for a check. A large sign by the road said they had apprehended over 9000 illegal immigrants - I presume they meant this year. And 2.2 kilos of cocaine.
Home again and a big thank you to Al. He was incredibly knowledgeable and I have a potted history of Arizona now, as well as a number of interesting facts and stories. I collected my photos (thankfully OK) and investigated posting some of my books and papers home - $46 minimum, from what I was told, so that isn't going to happen.
Have relaxed tonight, done some laundry (all currently hanging around the room as yet again I didn't have enough quarters for the dryer) and catching up now on emails.
Tomorrow I am off to speak to a class of trainee teachers, then have to return my car to the rental place and meet up with Meg for dinner and poetry reading.

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