We finally got to visit the Mesilla Plaza on Christmas Eve, something I have always wanted to do. It was magical in every way. The night was cold and fragrant with the smell of luminarias and fireplace fires. If you have never smelled a Southwest fireplace fire, you have a treat ahead of you, because there is absolutely nothing like the fragrance of burning juniper and piñon on a frosty night.
Let's see, we have covered one sense--that of smell, which is always important in the desert Southwest. For sounds, we had the tolling bells of San Albino, the laughter of children, singing carolers, and a brass band. For sights, there were strolling families, lights strung about, Christmas decorations, and, of course, the thousands of authentic luminarias--each made of a candle inserted in sand inside a brown paper bag (assembled by the high school band for an annual fund raiser).
Here is what it looked like, with the church of San Albino lit up in the background.
We followed a little side trail of luminarias and found that it led into a tiny alleyway between old adobe walls. Turning a corner, we saw this lovely sight in the darkness--a little outside altar in honor of la Virgen de Guadalupe, whose procession we had seen just a couple of weeks before. I took the first shot without a flash, so you could see it just as we did.
To show you the scene in greater detail, I tried a shot with the flash. Just bear in mind that the little grotto was much darker, and was actually lit only by the flickering candles and luminarias.
We had another unexpected meeting before we left Mesilla to go home, but I will tell you about that tomorrow. In the meantime, I leave you with this image of one of the stained glass windows of San Albino. If you have a moment, you can go to the parish history page and click on the tab entitled "Crowd leaving 1908 dedication of the new San Albino Church" to see a lovely historical photograph of the church, its parishioners, and the plaza over a hundred years ago.