Spa Travel: Earthship/Ojo Caliente, NM
Earthship Community- El Prado, New Mexico
The dogs and I left sweet Santa Fe and headed to Toas, NM. There are several wineries to visit along the way if you take either the low or high road. I chose the high this day. What a beautiful drive worth the extra time. When I arrived to my airbnb rental it was a disaster of a location, directly behind a loud car-wash with the sound of vacuums running non-stop. After calling airbnb corporate office, I decided not to wait around and instantly found an earthship for rent, 11 minutes away in El Prado. I had no idea how amazed I would be by this community and way of living!
An earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and up-cycled materials such as earth-packed tires. Architect Michael Reynolds pioneered this invention to address six principles:
Thermal/solar heating and cooling
solar and wind electricity
self-contained sewage treatment
building with natural and recycled materials
water harvesting and long term storage
some internal food production capability
Earthship structures are intended to be "off-the-grid-ready" homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rain water. When inside you feel so safe and secure like being inside a cave, since the homes are partially built into the ground. When they warm up with the early morning sun, the walls stay cozy on the inside into the evening. I have truly never felt so at home within walls. My favorite aspects of earthship living:
Wine bottle brick wall construction (I could have built a mansion by now with my recycled bottles in life!)
Zero noise and light pollution, the star gazing is magnificent
Even though off-grid, I never once had to mess with a generator or batteries. Plenty of power
My ship had fully equipped gas appliances and high speed internet.
The indoor greenhouse makes for an oxygenated atmosphere, cleans the air
One persons rubbish is another ones treasure
Here is the link to the large studio earthship home I rented. It was so incredible I did not want to leave! Kirsten and Ron are the gracious hosts. It is quite, cozy and has a fabulous bathtub inside under the glass where you can see the stars dance at night. I am convinced this type of living is in my future.
Ojo Caliente, New Mexico
The Drive- The reason I came to Toas from Santa Fe was to be closer to Ojo Caliente, the famous mineral springs my friend works for. This was one of the top spas on my list for the entire road trip out west. Now that I was staying in the earthship community it would only be a 30 minute drive on beautiful back roads through Carson State Park. About half way there, just about the time I was questioning the drive distance I committed to for this spa journey, A bald eagle swooped up in front of the car from the road where it was then joined by two ravens eating on a dead rabbit. It was huge and absolutely stunning but did not quite fit with the scenery. I immediately felt this was a strong sign that I was on the right path.
Arrival- I arrived at Ojo with plenty of time to kill so decided to take a hike on the trail systems directly behind the property. I chose the Posi Ruins trail since I had heard about it from my friend Ken back home and I'm just a sucker for anything architecturally really old. It was so much in ruins now that it is barely visible and the old pueblo was caved in, but I did take a picture of several Native American pottery pieces that were scattered about the trail, found by other explorers. So conscious that people are not pocketing these pieces so they can be seen. A beautiful hike right outside your door if you decide to stay on this beautiful property.
The Soak and Massage- The water temperature in my private tub rental was perfect, maybe 102 degrees, the sun was hot which made for a 63 degree winter day. I wet my hair and slapped on a moisture mask that I brought from my spa, grabbed my water bottle and simply meditated on the fact that I was exactly where I wanted to be. I had at least 40 peaceful minutes soaking and reflecting when it was time to go prepare for my massage. The small waiting room in the spa was nice and warm. I believe it had heated floors. It was an older building with cozy lounge chairs and blankets. I was relaxing for about 10 minutes when CJ my massage therapist took me into the small massage cabana. They have maybe 8 rooms lined up side by side that step down into comfortable treatment rooms with high ceilings. I purchased a one hour customized massage. CJ was attentive and gave a fabulous massage. The therapists, like at Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, are all private contractors who make their own schedule and work in the same cabana room throughout their shift. It seems to me this model really works nicely in New Mexico verses having the therapists as employees that inter mingle with other employees in a break room. It weeds out the drama and seems to me keep the atmosphere much more professional.
Conclusion- Once my therapy was finished I hydrated, changed into my clothes and headed to the wine bar for their legendary fish tacos. They will never be forgotten and the wait staff service was excellent. In conclusion, I do not want to compare spas, for they are all thankfully unique. The Ojo soaking experiences outdoor had individual open tubs where you could experience the minerals separate. A soda, arsenic, lithium, iron tub and even a mud pool. I held Ojo so high in my expectations since they were an actual mineral hot spring destination spa, but in reality "Ten Thousand Waves" set the customer service standards and their pools are simply just purified well water. When we spend ample hard earned cash on a spa experience we should feel nurtured, relaxed and taken care of, from the time we enter the door until we drive away. The property at Ojo is unique and the mineral water is superb, all this facility needs is some tightening up of management and a better delivery of policy, procedure and training to the staff. Possible additions to operations in the future: sandal purchase, gender specific soaking tubs and dog friendly overnight rentals.
I asked several locals if they had ever seen a bald eagle in the area, every one said no. I still left feeling blessed, thankful, relaxed and full.
Stay tuned for the next blog! True story: as I am in my delightfully comfortable earthship thinking, "I will just buy a ship and make an ayurvedic inspired earthship spa in Toas", I actually found just that.
Next Blog- "Auromesa", an Ayurvedic Earthship and Soul Sister Practitioner
By the way, thanks for reading!