Just beyond the Santa Fe Opera, on the road to Los Alamos National Laboratories, is Camel Rock Monument. I traveled that route as a young CPA on my way to perform financial audits at the Labs. Camel Rock sits, almost Sphinx-like, guarding the southern fringe of the Española Badlands in New Mexico. Back then, the geologic formation seemed to speak to me every time I drove past. In the Land of Enchantment, the idea of spirits in the desert inhabiting an eroded rock and speaking to travelers seemed perfectly normal.
Then I left New Mexico. My new corporate job gave me the international travel I had dreamed of doing. My life took such an interesting turn that I completely forgot about Camel Rock. After two decades of traveling the world in my corporate job, I resigned and moved to Texas to follow my dream to write mysteries.
For the past two years, my husband, Bob, and I have spent the summers in northern New Mexico, my writing retreat. Being here has brought me face-to-face with Camel Rock again. Every time we drive past it on the road to Santa Fe, it whispers, “welcome home.”
For the past couple of months, I’d been working so hard on the Spanish translation of my novel, Waking Up in Medellin, that Bob suggested I take a break and we spend a couple of days in Santa Fe. Maybe even catch a sunset from the Bell Tower, the rooftop bar, at the historic La Fonda hotel. With hardly any tourists in Santa Fe, we had the Bell Tower almost to ourselves.
Then two men arrived and sat at the next table, social distancing observed. When one of the new arrivals discovered I was originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, he asked if I’d ever been to the border town of Palomas. I told him that was the port of entry we used for traveling between my hometown in Mexico and the US when I was a kid. He immediately asked if I’d ever heard of Tillie.
“The famous Tillie from Palomas, Chihuahua?” I asked. “One of my high school friends married her son Pedro.”
In the sheltering and social distancing world of COVID-19, I was amazed at meeting a man from Amarillo, Texas, who knew a woman from the tiny border town of Palomas, a short distance from where I grew up.
A case of six degrees of separation. Except here, I was connected by one step, not six.
Bob and I enjoyed our visit to Santa Fe. The entire trip brought back memories from the years I’d lived in New Mexico. And the Camel is right. I’ve come home!
Ever had an amazing or personally touching six-degrees of separation event? I’d love for you to share it!
Photos: By Kathryn Lane or from the public domain: Camel Rock Monument; Bell Tower Poster; Bob and Kathryn on La Fonda’s rooftop, and the adobe style façade of La Fonda Hotel.
Kathryn’s books – The Nikki Garcia Mystery Series and her short story collection – Backyard Volcano. All available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082H96R11
Kathryn Lane started out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.