New Mexico Photojournal
With a few days to kill before returning to the ol' Beltway mosh pit, we decided to drive around New Mexico. Missing out on the mother of all abortion discussions is a burden I must bear, but nature made up for it by allowing us to experience the wettest this state has been in a generation or two. Prior to our arrival there was a month of massive precipitation, and the past few days have seen over three inches.
Looking out the window during the flight in I thought Alburquerque looked depressingly brown, but a resident I mentioned this to (a transplant from Shenandoah, VA) said this is as verdant as she'd ever seen it.
That's probably the most incisive, factual observation you're going to get in this travelogue, being as how I've been working the whole week and am not very observant anyways. But I promise some cool pictures. If you've never been to northern New Mexico, you should find it mildly interesting.
(Note: The Balloon Festival has been grounded since Saturday - tough luck for those who came in specifically for that - but today they appear to be all systems go. The morning news just showed the Intel balloon is up and away.)
To the uninformed eye (i.e., me), the biggest natural difference between New Mexico and Arizona is the grass. Where Arizona, like Las Vegas and Palm Springs, has zero outside of the landscaping, New Mexico's undeveloped areas are pretty thick with it, reminiscent more of the Midwest than the desert Southwest.
Our excursion was up to Santa Fe: one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and, like so much of this part of America, a place imbued with Indian culture.
(Click below for the rest and give the page a second to load as it has a few photos, eh?)
Santa Fe was the northern end of the El Camino Real from Mexico City, and was the capital of Spain's New Mexico province since the early 1600s. Below is the Palace of the Governors. Built about 1615, it served as capital building, through a revolution or two, for over two centuries. It is the oldest continually-occupied public building in the U.S.
As they've done for centuries, Native American artisans sell their wares beneath the portico. You want turquoise? This is where you get the turquoise.
The Palace's architectural theme continues throughout the city.
Built in the 1870s, the St. Francis Cathedral does not allow any flash photography indoors, so I can't show you a photo of this REALLY old statue of the Virgin Mary-as-conquering-queen inside. Called 'La Conquistadora,' it's about 18 inches tall and looks like a fairly new porcelain doll. I believe it was sent to America around 1600. Use your imagination.
As anyone who's been to Santa Fe can tell you, it's all about the arts. Oh, goodness, we're talking gallery after gallery until (as a local artist told us) even the great art just starts to run together.
We went to these two. Just to say we did it.
You see, we have this one picture of a duck, on the living room wall, so Santa Fe was sort of a pearls-before-swine deal for us.
Much more practical, in my estimation, are the abundant vendors selling stuff you can use, like peppers. You cannot swing a dead cat in Santa Fe without hitting a pepper ristra. Being a huge pepper guy, I really appreciated this aspect and immediately began calculating how I could rearrange my luggage to get maximum carrying capacity in my checked bags.
You can get all sorts of other cool, hopefully locally-produced, stuff. I found a couple leather items made in China but I think the vast majority is authentic. The cheery, bazaar atmosphere is a nice counterpoint to the chi chi "don't touch ANYTHING 'cause that bowl costs $78,000' aura of the galleries.
Peppers, beans: that's art.
You do get a sense of the old West here, from the buildings, the history, the people, the air itself. It's hard not to get taken in by it all.
Â¿Como se dice 'affectation' en espaÃ±ol?
My objectivity thus jettisoned - I'm about to light an Ipanema while they fit me for my boots - the cultural report must end here. But the scenery is spectacular so let's take that in.
Residential areas are not so much 'developed' as carved out. Many neighborhoods are absent of landscaping in the common areas; in fact, most houses appear to be plopped down amidst the wild grasses and sagebrush or whatever it is.
So they've got to be saving money on lawn care.
This whole area is what you call 'high plains' like near Denver. I forget the elevation, it's some thousands of feet, but it's also flat to a large degree and you get some outrageous 'big sky' views. The horizon in the DC area tends to be about 100 yards away unless you're up in a building, so New Mexico can be breathtaking.
It's probably a little less breathtaking if you live on a reservation - actually they call it a 'pueblo'. Each one seems to have a casino or dog track so hopefully that helps.
Many of the residences have nice trucks parked in front of them, but the overall impression you get is it's probably still no great shakes to be a Native American.
Hey, but what about that natural beauty? New Mexico is geological - very, VERY geological. I mean, more so than most.
Even the most mundane, seemingly cramped little spots have an air of majesty.
Whoops, something just reminded me I'm not a travel writer and this is supposed to be leisure time so I need to rejoin the world of the living. I'll try for some balloon shots but can't promise anything because the wind might have shifted which would send them away from us. Courage!
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