Behind the hotel, which had once been the villa of Mabel Dodge in Taos, lay a vast prairie, which stretched out to the horizon where it met a range of lofty mountains. I asked the headmistress, the sharp-witted lady with the shaven head, how we could get onto the prairie to take a walk. “You will have to ask the cook”.
Surprised, I went down into the kitchen. The cook was an extremely tall and imposing Indian lady, with two long, grey pigtails. She told me that the prairie and all that extended beyond were inhabited by the spirits of her ancestors. I explained to her that I was a stranger and that, without wanting to violate anyone’s space, I would like to walk on this beautiful prairie with these beautiful mountains in the distance.
“You can walk as much as you want on the prairie, you will not disturb our spirits but do not go into the mountains. Firstly, you will likely be watched, and then an accident might befall you. You know, the mountain you see there is so sacred to us that we have obtained an agreement with the airlines that its planes shall not pass over”.