Teresa Victor stood, feet planted on the rugged slopes of Cuzco, the capital of the sun-worshiping Inca empire, the spot on earth with the highest ultraviolet light level. This was her third trip to Peru. On a previous trip, she hiked the Inca Trail, the twenty-eight mile ancient road to Macchu Piccu, in nearly impassable terrain high above the Urubamba River canyon cloud forest.
“I had a twenty-seven hour delay due to a cancelled flight in Lima,” the Las Vegas resident reminisces. “But it was worth it. I saw beautiful weavings, antique 300-year-old textiles. I bought inventory for the store.”
Victor’s store, World Treasures & Travelers Caf, shares space with textile-specialists Tapetes de Lana. Run by Victor’s mother, Carla Gomez, the weaving studio and gallery is a non-profit organization designed to promote cottage industry and rural lifestyles, while preserving Northern New Mexico’s rich culture and heritage. Victor worked as manager of Tapetes de Lana for seven years and taught weaving at NMHU. One of her weavings won an honorable mention at Santa Fe’s famed Spanish Market.
“I’m from Las Vegas, grew up here,” says Victor. “This is such a wonderful little town, but I didn’t think so in high school. I went to college in Las Cruces, and was able to study abroad in Spain.”
Her love of world culture’s inspired Victor to open World Treasures & Travelers Caf with some assistance from the New Mexico Workforce Connection.
“Opening the cafe was kind of a whim. I was traveling and needed some other income,” Victor explains. “I’d bring stuff back from Peru and other places and sell it. My father is a coffee coneisseur, roasting his own beans for over 20 years. He pushed the idea. I’m a baker and thought a cafe would be a great addition to the town since Second Tome Around had closed.”
World Treasures & Travelers Caf uses only free-trade and organic espresso. Victor roasts her own coffee, and usually offers four types daily to customers - a house blend, and perhaps a Columbian, Ethiopian, Costa Rican, as well as other more exotic beans. Glass and hardwood cases boast homemade treats such as huge cookies, cheesecake, and several varieties of muffins.
“We try to be as green as possible,” Victor says. “We have 50 kinds of loose-leaf organic teas. We have an unusual spicy chocolate tea and flavored teas such as red berries, green and African roobios chai.”
A glance around the cafe’s space reveals a cozy setting with wood tables and chairs where customers nurse hot drinks while their laptops chase the ‘net on the store’s free Wi-Fi. Other patrons sink into the couches by a crackling fireplace, reading paperbacks from the offered Book Exchange.
“We have about 500 books in our collection,” Victor counts. “Book clubs frequent the cafe. Knitting groups. We have lots of board games for players. The Bridge Club comes. A drawing/sketching group. It’s a great place to meet your friends, kick back, and relax.”
A new addition to Victor’s menu is a regular Open Mic night, the second and fourth Saturday of every month. Musicians, poets, and comedians take 5-20 minute turns at the microphone, entertaining a varied audience, some of whom get up the guts to grab the mic themselves.
“We get UWC students and townspeople alike,” Victor says. “So far we’ve had around 40 people total each evening. Our youngest performer has been 10, and our oldest around 70! Some of our musicians have been professionals, such as Steve Ledger. A girl from the World College sang Japanese songs and while her friend played guitar last time. The mic kept slipping down! The performers sometimes get unintended challenges like this, but it’s such a friendly audience. We all have a great time.”
In addition to Open Mic night, the cafe hosts live music on the first and third Saturday of each month. Victor is also starting an Art Gallery on-site. Artists from Las Vegas and surrounding communities will rotate their art, with an artists’ reception being held at the beginning of each month.
“I want to provide a little world culture here in Las Vegas,” Victor smiles. “Our world is so big, but the internet and travel make it possible to pull the world a little bit toward us.”
For more information on World Treasures & Travelers Caf, please visit the cafe website at www.worldtreasuresimports.com, or email Teresa Victor at email@example.com. Open Mic Night: 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month, from 7 to around 8:30 p.m. Private meeting space available, with beverages and food, for parties, meetings, etc.