Sunday, August 22, 2010

Costilla Trip - Adobe Houses

We thought we had the day all planned out - take Valerie and Mitch to mass in Questa and then come back to Red River to ride the ski lift to the restaurant at the top of the mountain where we'd have a leisurely lunch.  Hm, best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.....

Seems like the church in Questa had a wall collapse two years ago and is not longer open.  This was a sad thing as the church was an old adobe church built in the 1840's.  After learning that the nearest church with a morning service is in Costilla, we headed north to Costilla, located on the New Mexico/Colorado border.

We arrived in time for Valerie to attend the last 15 minutes of the service.  

While there we decided to explore the area and discovered that this town truly sits on the state line and that on the Colorado side is the town of Garcia.  This land here is flat and covered with sagebrush.  Small ranches with a few cows dot the countryside.

While driving around the town we  came upon these unique shaped ovens sitting in the yard of several homes - after some research I discovered that they are called a 'horno' (Spanish word for oven).

They are a mud adobe built beehive shaped oven that uses  wood as the only heat source.  When the oven reaches the proper temperature, the embers  and ashes are removed and the bread is placed in the oven to bake.  Since the horno is made from adobe, it wicks the moisture into the food in a natural convection.  When the embers are doused with water, corn can be steam-cooked in the oven. 

When cooking meats, the oven is fired to a "white hot" temperature (approximately 650 degrees Fahrenheit), the coals are moved to the back of the oven, and the meats placed inside. The smoke-hole and door are sealed with mud. A twenty-one-pound turkey will take 2-1/2 to 3 hours to cook. It comes out very succulent.

I am thinking that Mitch needs to construct one of these out at the farm.  I'll come help cook!

Scattered around the town are very old adobe houses in various states of ruin.  After taking pictures of a few of them we discovered a few we could actually go into to explore that were not behind fences.

Adobe is a Spanish word meaning 'mud brick'.  Adobe is a mixture of clay, water and straw.  The straw is what binds the mixture together and allows the brick to dry evenly.  

Some of the adobe houses had peaked roofs that were covered with wood or metal.  Others had flat earthen roofs with grass and cactus growing on them.

The first adobe house we explored was a simple two room house.  It was readily apparent that it was quite old. The building process in this house was not nearly refined as the second house we explored.

Here is a close-up of the  inside wall.  You can see the straw in the mud.  This mixture was smeared over the inside of the bricks.

The other house that we explored was quite large - seven rooms.  It had been added onto over the years.  It was obviously someone's pride and joy at one time.

Another characteristic of these adobe homes are the extremely thick walls - those that we saw were about two feet thick.  This thickness helps to retain inside heat in the winter and cool the house in the summer.  Even with holes in the roof, we could feel the temperature difference when we went inside this house - it was much cooler inside.

This house was quite uptown.  One room had wainscoating on the walls.  

In one room you could see the remains of a wooden floor that was laid directly on the ground.

Some of the walls had some kind of a mud/cement covering the mud bricks.

The heavy large logs that support the ceiling are called  vigas.

A few more pictures of the adobe house...

The house next door...

Across the street... new mixed with old.

The state line...

As you can see, the town of Garcia was established in 1849.  I assume some of these old adobes date back close to that time.

We stopped at a local convenience store for drinks and in talking with the lady there, she suggested we take the scenic way home by going on NM 196 to Amalia and catching FR (Forest Road) 1950 through Valle Vidal and then through the Vermejo Ranch.   She said we would eventually end up in Cimarron.  So after being given directions to the local bar and grill for lunch (great New Mexican style food), we headed off on another adventure.

to be continued...

1 comment:

  1. These pictures are wonderful. Your perception shows the eye of an artist.