The red stone walls of Abo Pueblo Mission divide Heaven and Earth


listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go.
- e.e. cummings

     If surrealism is defined as the juxtaposition of unexpected items, then New Mexico can take its rightful place beside any painting by Magritte. Turn left at Mountainair, for example, and you'll find the red stone walls of the Mission of San Gregorio at Abo, as unexpected as if you stumbled upon a phone booth in the forest.


  • COUNTY:  Torrance
  • LOCATION:  8 miles southwest of Mountainair
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named by Don Juan de Onate
  • GNIS Info & Map

    In Abo, the universes of past and present lock together like a multivariate Lego block. If you've ever wondered where the past goes, you may find the answer in Abo, or at least reconsider the validity of the question. Abo argues that the past never leaves, that it sticks around indefinitely. But since we're accustomed to seeing, thinking and feeling in the present tense, we don't notice it until it rises above us in the form of a towering 40-foot red brick wall. Oh, that past!

    Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivara, together make up the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. For over 300 years, the mission at Abo (shown above) has withstood all manner of weather and hardship, not to mention the errant cows that had escaped from a nearby pen and were roaming and eating freely on the grass the morning I visited. Jets fly by overhead, leaving skid marks in the sky over the red mission walls. Cows, history, red stones and jet airplanes. Asi es Nuevo Mexico.

    The mission and adjacent pueblo were abandoned in the 1670s.


(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)

The red stone walls of Abo
are a bookmark in Time.