Most of the time I am taking photographs of the beautiful scenery in New Mexico, but when we travel to Pajarito Mesa things change a bit. Today I spent the afternoon in the west mesa, and I don't know why it is, but I get this compelling sense of urgency to drive myself to the area for pictures.
At first glance Pajarito Mesa appears to be a placed dislodged from some third world country, the little dirty secret in the backyard of metropolitan Albuquerque .
Far away from the Mexican border the Pajarito Mesa lacks essential services like roads, electricity and emergency services. Perhaps the most pressing need for the 1,080 predominately Mexican residents is one that many people take for granted – water.
Pajarito Mesa is just south of Dennis Chavez or Rio Bravo and is in the un-incorporated area of Bernalillo county. It is isolated yet scattered with debris of every imaginable kind one can think of.
While there, on the edge of a distant cliff, I saw two men taking target practice with handguns and what appeared to be an assault rifle. As I drove away I could hear the popping sound of automatic gun fire sending waves and echoing across the vast smooth layer of sand on the desert floor.
Just north, on the other side of Dennis Chavez, is the edge of the city of Albuquerque with new paved roads and fast moving development engulfing the desert floor. This is the place where recently a lady walking her dog made a gruesome discovery. A human bone partially buried in the sand.
To this date they have found the remains (bones) of at least 12 females and a fetus burried in the sand. Then there was that day last week when I was sent to this same crime scene on the west side to dig for bones, it is labeled the largest crime scene in New Mexico history.
Of the 12 bodies found buried in the west mesa two have been identified: Michelle Valdez, top left, and Victoria Chavez, bottom left. Valdez's first trimester fetus was among the remains found.
Albuquerque police are preparing for what they say could be the biggest homicide investigation in the city's history as investigators look into who buried bodies -- 13 so far, including a first trimester fetus -- in the ground in a wide expanse of desert mesa.
I sat there for a few minutes pondering about the life and death on this part of the west mesa. Then the winds started blowing lifting the sand to expose hidden debris and moving it to the side covering other exposed debris. Such is life on the edge of the city we call the west mesa.