Over the weekend I traveled south of Tucson, enjoying friendships begun last year as a volunteer at Tumacacori National Historical Park. On Friday, with my friend who lives in Nogales, AZ I had lunch in Nogales, Sonora, just across the border. Approaching the city one can see the Nogales, Sonora houses on the hillsides. They had recently been painted in varying colors of blue, pink, green, turquoise, yellow and orange and they looked so charming.
The day was cold and breezy, and it was a chilly walk across the border from downtown Nogales into Mexico. We warmed ourselves in the cozy atmosphere of a small cafe with tortilla soup and burritos, along with some hot tea. I had not been in Nogales, Sonora before, except to cross the border from Mexico into the U. S. by car when I traveled with a group to Magdalena, Mexico. On foot one gets a more intimate experience of the city. It was generally peaceful, with only the shopkeepers and ‘hawkers’ shouting out for us to stop and buy something. We weren’t interested…and just kept walking. (We didn’t want to buy ‘no yunk’ – Mexican “junk”, lol.)
After lunch we returned to Nogales, AZ and parted company. I was on my way to stay with a volunteer friend from Tumacacori National Historical Park who had offered her hospitality while we volunteered at the 41st annual Fiesta de Tumacacori on the weekend. I stayed in a lovely home at the end of a dirt road, just southeast of Tumacacori. We enjoyed informal conversation and meals, and playing with their six-month old puppy Tuffy. The puppy will be a very nice dog in the future; however, his young habits put him in the dog house with me. He managed to chew the lace off one of my shoes, and the shoulder strap and corner off the purse I was carrying. Also he pulled a glove and ski band out of the pocket of my jacket and began chewing the band. I’ve been invited to stay there again later this month after the luminarias display. I will have to really watch where I put my things.
For two days of very cool, stormy weather folks came to the fiesta grounds at Tumacacori to enjoy music, dancing, food, and cultural exchange. I volunteered to man the Western National Park Association (WNPA) booth for both days. The WNPA publishes the books that are found in the bookstores and gift shops of the western national parks. Their headquarters is in Tucson. Each park has a WNPA staff person who manages the books and gift items available at the national parks.
For this weekend, I assisted in unloading the boxes and putting the items out for display, talking with customers about publications, and receiving payments for the various items. The day began about 8:30 and lasted until 5:00. On Saturday the time was shortened slightly because of a sprinkle of rain – just enough to make us dash to cover and protect the merchandise. Each night we had to box everything up and remove it from the area. The next day we repeated this scenario. And each day it was very cold. I had on five layers to keep warm – long underwear, a turtle neck shirt, my volunteer shirt, a volunteer fleece jacket and a hooded, puffy nylon jacket to cut the wind.
There were many vendors who offered food and beverages, and it was easy to get a taste of authentic Mexican and Sonoran food. The ‘sonoran’ hotdogs I’m guessing, weren’t quite authentic, but they were very good. The big pepper they added to the top managed to keep my mouth and lips on fire for quite a while! I also sampled Mexican hot chocolate, beef tamales, and a kind of Mexican rosette cookie with cinnamon and sugar.
It was nice to see many of the other volunteers I met last year, and to learn of other volunteer opportunities closer to Tucson. Saguaro National Park (East) is looking for volunteers to take a saguaro census, and this sounds like something that could be fun. I also enjoyed catching up with the friends with whom I connected most strongly. The staff and volunteers are very nice, caring people, and always had a ready smile.
After the fiesta closed we were all invited for snacks and drinks before dinner, a group dinner of chili and cornbread, and assorted desserts. It was a great ending to a busy and chilly day! And I was pooped. I’d been invited to stay an extra night at my friends’; however, I was wanting to get home to check on the heat and water for the trailer. So I drove the hour and 15 minute drive back to Tucson, and arrived around 8:15. Shortly afterward I was in bed, snoozing!
I love to go to Tumacacori. It’s hard to describe why I like it so much. It’s the feeling I get when I am there. That, and the friendship of the park service folks, staff and volunteers alike, make it feel homey to me. The grounds are so peaceful, and the whole site is hugged by the mountains and the Santa Cruz River, with its cottonwood trees. A place for the spirit to enjoy.