Thursday, December 18, 2008

Amargosa Opera House and Hotel

It's been awhile since the last post - but never fear, I should be back on track with the latest thrilling updates shortly. Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Before I forget, while we were at Shoshone in the diner, the only other couple (some lovely cornfolk) were talking about their daughter entering a same-sex marriage on Jerry Springer. It appeared this was very stressful to them both and a third local was telling them that you could get through it as long as you had "joy in your heart". Very amusing hearing the locals talk about this!

After leaving Shoshone, we headed for Amargosa and in particular the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel. We had heard about Marta Becket and there has been a documentary made about her which we both really want to see. Marta is a dancer and artist who in 1967 while on tour through the US, got a flat tire in Amargosa, stumbled upon the abandoned Amargosa borax building & old run-down theatre and took ownership the following year. Marta eventually brought the town of Death Valley Junction in 1974. She created the Opera House where she gave performances (dance, theatre, spoken word) every Saturday, sometimes to audiences of zero. She therefore went about painting the inside of the Opera House, the centrepiece being the King and Queen on the back wall and when she performs, she performs to them. The ceiling is also very impressive and the hotel has also been adorned with murals in her unique style. Martha is now 82 years of age, however she still performs even now, although the dancing aspect has been replaced with spoken word. If we were here in the evening, we would have definitely attended her performance but we had the rest of Death Valley to see, so alas we couldn't stay.

Unusually for Sha, we hadn't planned on going to Amargosa prior to leaving NZ - we kind of stumbled upon it while looking at maps the night before. We arrived at about 9am in the morning at the hotel (previously the Pacific Coast Borax Company building building) and saw a sign mentioning tours. We tentatively asked if these were running and were then shown around by the Manager who had a wealth of knowledge of the history of the place. He told us about the Opera House, hauntings, the wild horses, the Borax Company, the previous lackadaisical management and too much more to mention. He was a really nice guy to boot!

The whole Amargosa experience really was one of the highlights of our America trip and we were left feeling that if we ever made it back to Death Valley, we would have to stay the night at the Amargosa Hotel.

Amargosa Hotel (on left) and Opera House (far right)

Hotel Hallway - secret door somewhere down there...

Hotel dining room mural

Another dining room mural

The actual Amargosa Opera House

Some interesting information

Inside the Opera House...

Armour and South American Indian murals

The stage

Ballet dancers and a Viking

Pot belly stove


The stage, close up - notice the costume changes

The King, Queen and court

Cherubs on the ceiling

Ceiling centrepiece

Once again, the ceiling

Watching from the side stage

Fun and frolics

Behind the Hotel...

Wild horse coming in for lunch

These horses are wild, but still like to be fed

Yum, horse feeding! Awww, cute.

Crumbling building behind the Amargosa Hotel - Sha in awe

More Photos from Jeffrey Sward

Well, that's all for Amargosa, next post is all about Death Valley itself.

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