I just returned from a trip to New Mexico with my mother. It was the first extended vacation we ever took together (by that I mean just the two of us; that's not counting family trips in the station wagon, etc.), and we had a ball. In one action packed week we hit Taos, Ojo Caliente, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and we did it all: We hiked, we shopped, we rode in a balloon at sunrise, we visited pueblos, we ate southwestern gourmet fusion cuisine seasoned with chipotle and cactus, we drank margaritas good and bad, we visited the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, we looked at hundreds, if not thousands, of turquoise necklaces and clay pots, and for two fabulously relaxing days, we spa'd. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, a favorite spot of the seasoned traveler/supermodel Lauren Hutton, is not a spa in the contemporary feng shui-and-facials sense (although they do offer standard treatments); it is more a spa in the ancient Roman sense (the word is an acronym for "salus per aquam" - health from water). One of the oldest health resorts in the U.S., it's a place people go to "take the waters" and there's quite a variety to choose from; there are four different types of geothermal mineral springs that flow from the earth at this once sacred site: iron, soda, arsenic, and lithium. All are all meant to be consumed internally, and I can confirm that the fizzy soda could conceivably be mixed with alcohol - if you don't mind bits of algae in your cocktail. I only had one glass of the lithium water, and then I found out too late that it was a natural sedative. "Drink a gallon of that stuff, and you'll be on another planet," said the host at our B&B. Not that I really needed to get any more mellow. They say natural hot springs are so relaxing because the mineral content is similar to the mineral makeup of the blood, so it's like your body is reaching equilibrium.
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During the summer season, May-October, there is a pool of detoxifying Moor mud at Ojo Caliente, and I slathered myself from head to toe both days, still in detox mode after a recent 21-day trial by deprivation, which you can read all about in an upcoming issue of the Weekly. The only thing I didn't do on this trip was find a Native American shaman who could perform a spiritual cleansing ritual on me. The closest we got to authentic Indian rituals was a visit to the Taos pueblo, where you have to pay 5 bucks just to take pictures of the site, which is a little bit like a beautiful, ancient adobe hut shopping mall. They do hold traditional ceremonies, but tourists aren't invited. I probably should have bought the painted prayer feathers one guy was selling at the pueblo, but I guess I'll have to be content with the organic sage body lotion I picked up on my way back to L.A.