Music and Waterfalls

Music and Waterfalls

When I worked for the Director of Environment at City Hall in London I developed an interest in sustainable living. I went to the openings of a few “sustainable developments” with one or two token sustainable gestures. I heard endless reasons why it was “too difficult” to get people to recycle even the basics. All of those excuses and attempts have been put to shame by a small community in the New Mexico desert.

The City of the Sun, next to Columbus, New Mexico is an alternative community of approximately 50 residents. A selection of them live sustainably, predominantly off-grid. We were invited to stay with Fran, a couchsurfing host with a plot of land where she has a selection of innovative structures including an open topped papercrete dome, a house insulated with packing peanuts, bubble wrap and straw, and a school bus that has been converted into a home.

The three musketeers

Fran’s place was levitating

Fran introduced us to her neighbour Paul, who had a great plot of land that he had several buildings on, including an in-progress meditation center. He holds meditation retreats, and they’ve outgrown the room in the garage he had been using. Paul is one of the most zen people I have ever met. He has spent time in Nepal and lives a most calm and productive life. He’s vegan, and fed us the most delicious meal of rice and lentils with macha tea, and then gave us the recipe and some of the ingredients to take with us.

Paul also has a arc welder, which he uses to build very beautiful gates, among other things. For us, this was very fortuitous because Phil realised that one of the racks that holds his ammo can on had snapped. Also, for a while now I have had a broken radiator guard, which was rattling annoyingly. Paul rolled out his welder and had both problems fixed in no time at all.


Welding Jayne’s guard back together.

We were in the City of the Sun the Saturday before Halloween, and were invited to a Zombie party. Luckily for us, Fran has TWO caravans full of clothes, as she makes hats and costumes, so we were set for finding costumes.

We were the youngest guests at the party by quiet a long way. Despite this, perhaps because of this, we had a wonderful time.

Phil had a tire run over his face…

Zombie Food

The costumes were fabulous

One of my favourite characters at the party was Deborah, a hippie of a certain age who had lost none of her vibe. She and her husband had spent 25 years on the road as musicians. I am very sorry that I didn’t get to hear her play guitar, because I was told she is very talented.

We also met three Canadian ladies who venture down to New Mexico to escape the winter, at least for a little while.

Everyone was incredibly nice, and so very interested in our trip. I had strangers coming up to me all evening asking if I was one of the “tall Canadians on their way to South America”. I feel like we must have been a hot topic of conversation out at the food tables!

I found my time at City of the Sun particularly inspirational. I left wanting to go back and attend one of Paul’s meditation retreats, buy a school bus and live on it and thinking of all the ways I can live more sustainably. I would love to one day build my own home with environmentally friendly materials, solar panels, solar distilled water, a composting toilet, etc etc etc… And to make everything beautiful  as well as functional.

At one point Fran was talking about moving on to the next world, and how it would be peaceful and nice, but how she would definitely want to come back to this one, because she’d miss the “Music and Waterfalls”. What a description of what a wonderful world we live in. A reminder to really enjoy this great planet we all live on!

Flip through the gallery for an overview our time in the very special place they call the City of the Sun.