Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 18 2012

Disclaimer: Not About Teaching.

Realizing that this was originally intended to be musings on teaching, New Mexico, and my life, and that I’m usually more about the teaching, and that while teaching is one aspect of my life but not (hear that, self? NOT) my whole life, I have decided to write about something else. Like the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and Ancient Way Café I went to yesterday.

If those two names sound a little out there, that’s because they are. Both these places are out in the middle of nowhere, and for New Mexico, the middle of nowhere is REALLY the middle of nowhere. They’re about 15 miles east of Ramah, which is a town of 407 people according to the census (side note: the census may be on the low side of the actual figure, because a certain number of rural and/or native people don’t really do the census. If you’re thinking, “How can they not do the census?” remember that if you live down a canyon on a dirt road that is mud for 2 months at a time and you’re not actively looking for a census form, nobody’s going to bring you one).

The wolf sanctuary is a kind of shelter for wolves and wolf-dogs. Apparently, there are a ton of people out there who get a kick out of owning a dog that is part or mostly wolf, and because there is a demand, there are breeders who keep creating them. The problem is, unsurprisingly, that wolves are not dogs. If you have a dog who has a lot of wolf behavior traits, like digging enormous dens or biting when they’re scared or not giving a crap about making you happy, you don’t really want them after a while. Or even if you want them, they’re such a menace that you can’t take good care of them. The wolf sanctuary takes in “high-content” (mostly wolf) wolf dogs and the occasional full wolf, and they can’t take in nearly as many wolves as there are. They say they get 500 calls about different wolf-dogs every 90 days, and they don’t have space for more than their current 53 animals. Who knew this was such a thing? It’s a little on the spiritual, feel-the-energy-of-the-animal side for me, and the guy who started the sanctuary is this guy who feels like he was chosen by the wolves to be their voice, but it’s also really awesome. The wolves are cool, and they give tours with people who know them all and can talk to you about them. We want to go back and go camping overnight, which they do, because our tour guide said, “The sound of 53 wolves howling at night will change your very being.” Plus it’d be awesome.

The Ancient Way Café is a little restaurant a ways away from the wolf sanctuary, and it’s this wooden building with cabins behind it run by these two middle-aged gay guys. They have amazing pie and baked things, and really nice food too, and the best chai ever. On weekends they do an old-style restaurant thing where you go in and they leisurely get you some drinks and eventually someone comes over to tell you what you’re eating tonight. They only make one meal, which is delicious, and then there is a ton of pie to choose from. It was such a hippy-ish, old-timey, homey place and the two men were so nice and so relaxed, you can’t help but chill as soon as you sit down.

It was such an interesting afternoon. Usually I live in the fast-food and Wal-Mart land of Gallup, and you go on hikes and admire the mesas covered with snow, but it’s still a little consumerist-America. It’s kids with cell phones and new Nikes (but no winter coat) and pickup trucks and basketball tournaments. So it was really interesting to see another side of New Mexico that’s only an hour or so away: the chill, spiritual, wolf-rescuing, pie-baking side of things. Pretty neat.

One Response

  1. Lauren

    This was the coolest post I’ve read in a while. And in a way, it IS about teaching–I think it’s important to have the occasional mental-health retreat, especially if you’re a teacher. I’m moving to Kansas City in May for my TFA posting, and I can’t wait to explore a new city and all the local spots. Stuff like this helps keep you sane. Plus, one of the really awesome things about TFA is that a lot of CMs get placed in new and exciting places that they’ve never been to before. You’re only there for two years, so take advantage of it!

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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