Southwestern Wellness and a mystery in Taos
Driving north to Taos on NM-68 I couldn't help but shudder a little when I saw the nets set up above the road to catch falling rocks. As the third or fourth commuter zoomed around me at twice the speed limit, I noticed a giant boulder caught lazily in the net. It would have squashed my car without even thinking about it.
I was going to Taos on business, but it was pleasure that made me stop at Jethro's Genuine Texas Barbeque (519 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, Taos). Jethro's is a smoker, some picnic tables and a trailer with a kitchen in it all posted up in a grocery store parking lot. I ordered a brisket sandwich and started poking at my phone to find out where Southwest Wellness Center was. One of the best sandwiches I've ever had made a mess of my face and hands while I skimmed the city's website for things to do while I was in town.
I wanted somewhere with trees to walk off the brick of meat that had settled in my gut. The closest park to everything else was Kit Carson Park, and I marked it on my map before heading to the dispensary to get my business over with.
Southwest Wellness sat in a big open area surrounded by blue sky and flooded with afternoon sun. I practically ran inside with my eyes on the sidewalk and sweat beading on my forehead. The showroom was small and mostly unadorned, but it was bright and had a welcoming atmosphere thanks to the smiling staff. I had the distinct feeling I was the first customer they'd seen all day.
I was starting to wonder about the lack of clientele when I noticed the prices on the menu. Everything was $10 or below (most of the strains were $7). The prices were split up according to THC percentages. Grams don't usually come that cheap, and I would expect lines to Santa Fe with such low prices, but this place was clearly quieter than most.
I decided to investigate and began asking my 'tender questions. Maybe these folks were rude, or something. A bad staff will run off even the most frugal shopper. But as a young lady explained in exact terms how their concentrates were made, I became more and more confused. I kept tossing more questions her way, and she answered correctly and with confidence—and always with a friendly smile. What the shit?
I decided to forget about it for the time being, and picked out a few strains. On the way back to the car, my stomach moaned woefully at me. “Alright, alright,” I told it. “We'll go for a walk, you whiny bastard.”
Hours and hours later, I arrived home. I needed a pick-me-up something awful after the long drive. My mood had been stained by my walk at Kit Carson. A tiny graveyard can be found off to the side where Carson's body lies. On his headstone someone had scratched “fuck you” into the rock. Graffiti was on a number of surfaces around the graveyard, most of it voicing pro-Native and anti-Carson sentiment. I had no idea who Carson was, but it sure seemed like some people hated him. I found a cruddy documentary about him on YouTube and listened to it on the drive back.
Back on my trusty couch, the bowl packed tight with Durban Poison (THC: 17.96%, CBD: 0.0%—$7/gram), I googled Carson and hit the pipe. It was a bit dry, but the diesel flavor came through strong. Durban Poison is a sativa-dominant strain that's known for it's energizing effects. After two or three hits, I could feel my body shed some of the tension it had picked up on the drive back, and my mind began to become more playful.
I'd already come across some vastly differing accounts regarding ol' Carson, and I'd only been skimming some articles for 10 minutes. Not only was he a significant figure in the history of ye Olde West, he was also the star of a ton of mid-nineteenth century fictional dime novels and twentieth century films. Carson was a frontiersmen and an “Indian agent” (someone who was authorized by the US government to act as an intermediary with a Native tribe) to the Ute people and the Jicarilla Apaches.
He was also either directly or indirectly responsible for the massacre of countless Natives during the years of Western expansion. Depending on who you ask, he was either an illiterate butcher or a falsely accused hero.
Durban Poison managed to make that sort of bottomless, tail-eating mystery seem like a fun way to spend the evening. It was also stirring quite a hunger in me. I threw the spare sandwich I'd bought in the stove and packed a bowl of White Walker Kush (THC: 21.21%, CBD: 0.19%—$7/gram) to smoke while I waited. This hybrid comes from crossing Skywalker and White Widow, and I felt the physical side of it to be the most pronounced. Its pain-relieving attributes were immediately apparent, and it turned my newly-minted attitude around a corner, bringing on a sillier and less focused mood. It tasted earthy and sweet, and caused me to cough like a sputtering engine.
By the time my sandwich was hot again, I was feeling great. I was still confused about whether I was supposed to hate Carson or not, but I was also finding it hard to feel any hate whatsoever. I hoped Carson got what was coming to him (whatever it happened to be). I hoped the kid who scratched “Fuck you” into his headstone had come to some terms with his own life (whatever that was). I hoped Southwest Wellness Center saw some more foot traffic.
1023 Salazar, Taos
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-6pm
First-time Freebies: Discount.