Wednesday, November 14, 2012

DAY 84- Taos...

When I left Santa Fe, I just happened to choose a road at random that was heading in the general direction that I needed to go.  I know crazy, huh?  But Taos is less than two hour’s drive away from Santa Fe and I had some time to explore.  I chose Bishop’s Lodge Road and just drove.  I drove through rounded hills covered with brush and short juniper trees where adobe houses would peak out here and there from the landscape.  It was like the houses were made to fit in with the landscape and it was very scenic.  I made a little contest to pick out as many as I could as I went along.
Photo- Houses hidden in the landscape north of Santa Fe.

Eventually, I came to small communities where there were adobe fences and rough wooden tree fences lining the road.  I imagine that two weeks earlier the barren tree branches hanging over the fences would have been filled with glorious Fall colors.  There were still some of the stubborn leaves hanging on.  Bishop’s Lodge Road came out along the Hwy 285 that I needed to take north to Taos.  I wasn’t choosing the straightest path but then when have I ever done that.
Photo- A variety of fences along the road.

I drove north through the small towns of Espanola and San Juan.  The Hwy started to turn into a northeastern direction towards Taos and I was driving through part of the beautiful Rio Grande Gorge area.  I stopped to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.  The Hwy was also climbing quite a bit.  Just before I got to Taos the road descended.   The scenery opened up and there was a rest stop on the side of the road.  It was amazing.  I could see the snowcapped mountains above Taos and off to the west I could see part of the Rio River Gorge.
Photo- The Rio Grande River Gorge Area.

Driving into Taos, there were more adobe houses and businesses along the road.  I drove north through the center of town and past my hotel.  It was too early to check in and I thought I might just drive around and check out the area.  Then, I saw the sign just ¼ mile up the road from my hotel—Taos Pueblo.  I followed the signs.  I left my camera and cell phone in the car.  I had read that they didn’t allow photos without permission and/or paying a fee.  I just figured I would forgo the hassle all together.

I walked through a gate that had a sign stating the next tour was in 2 minutes at the church.  I walked through an alley way between adobe buildings into a large wide open area.  Off to my right was a church with a walled courtyard.  I walked through the courtyard arch and into the church.  My watch must have been off because the tour was already starting.  I sat down in a pew and listened to a young college aged Pueblo male talk about the symbolism and importance of different things in the church.  He told of the history of the church and that this was not the original church.  The first one had burned down but some of the figures are saved from the first church.

Next, we were led out of the church between some adobe homes and over to the cemetery where there were ruins of the old church.  He explained how all of the crosses in the cemetery had a first and last name on them.  He told how his people had adopted this from their Catholic Christianity and that originally his people only had one name.  The church had burnt down in a rebellion with the Spanish. 

He told of a horrific story of his people being trapped in the church and it was set on fire by the Spanish.  Then the Spanish stood with armed guns outside the only door to the church. There was only one woman that had survived and she had run out of the church that was on fire, through the gun fire, and hid in another building to the north.  She had saved one of the Mary figures from the old church.

Next, he led us our tour group over to an adobe oven which he went into detail about how it worked and when it was primarily used.  He also explained about how currently there was only about 50 people that were living in the pueblo area; most of the other 2800 Indians were living on the reservation outside the pueblo walls.  Most of those members that were living in the pueblo would go outside the walls to shower and bath, but that there were some propane that was used for lighting and heating. 

He lead us back over to the square area and over along the river that runs through the middle of the pueblo.  He explained that you could drink from the stream because it’s so clean.  They own all the land up to the top of the mountains and nothing is developed to contaminate the area.  He mentioned some of the ceremonies and festivals that took place along the river and within the pueblo.  It was all very interesting.  After the tour he invited everyone to stay and visit any of the adobe houses that had an open sign next to their doors.  Those were the homes that had businesses. 

I walked across the square over to a table and looked at some goods as a white middle aged female asked the vendor about the symbolism on a piece with art work on it.  There was jewelry on display on too.  I continued on and ended up following a group of visitors into another house.  Along one wall of the house was a bragging wall would be the only description I could come up with.  There were pictures of family members with Hollywood stars and other famous people that had visited the pueblo.  I looked at the prices of some of the artwork and jewelry; and I understood the bragging wall.  But there was a small little sign where they could take a credit card too if you didn’t happen to have the hundred bills on you.

I followed the group to the next house and another.  It was the same story over and over; high priced pieces and one of them even had a laptop computer with a HUGE battery backup with a cup of Starbucks coffee sitting next to it.  She told one lady how she was addicted to Starbucks and gave directions as to where it was in Taos.  I was disappointed with the whole thing.  What was the point of no electricity and what not within the pueblo when all of these outside things were brought in?  I’m not sure what I had been expecting but I just thought that they would be a little more traditional within the pueblo walls.  I wasn’t expecting them to be running around in buckskin clothing but I just thought that it would be different.
Photo- The Rio Grande Gorge as seen from the bridge that spans it.

Next, I went northwest out of Taos and across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge; now THIS was amazing!  I drove into the rest stop immediately off to the west of the bridge and got out.  I hiked over to the fence area and took pictures of the gorge.  Then, I walked along a sidewalk and across a rough worn dirt path to the highway area.  I walked along the sidewalk of the bridge out to the middle where there was a viewing area.  I tried not to look straight down or I would have gotten dizzy and it WAS a ways down.  The river only looked to be a few feet wide from the view up top but I’m sure it was further than that across.  What a view!  Vendors were set up along the road in front of the rest stop.  You could buy jewelry, hats, leather goods, and drums.  There was even an old colored bus that sold coffee and ice-cream.  Capitalism is very much alive in New Mexico!

I swung back into Taos, past my hotel again (still too early to check in) in search of a nail place.  I was in bad need of a mani-pedi.  The polish was worn off, torn nails, and rough heels; need I say more? I found a small place called Star Nails in a strip mall.  There were only two people and I ended up with the untalkative man.  I asked him about Taos and he said he had only two words to describe Taos… Small Town!  That kept me laughing for a bit. 

I checked into my hotel clad in the cheap paper like thongs because my toe nails had to dry still.  The hotel clerked looked at me a bit strange.  I told her I just treated myself to a mani-pedi and she said she was hoping so but didn’t want to say anything because she’s always seeing some strange stuff going on in the area.

Next I decided to do to a local bar called the Adobe Bar in Taos’ Historic Inn.  I showed up and there was live music going on.  The place was packed but I still managed to find a table.  I watched the football game from my table and the live music too.  This was cool!  It turns out that every Monday night is Open Mike night at the Abode Bar.  The area certainly has a lot of musical talent.  There were even a couple of standups too; one was a little boy about 7 or 8 years old that had to tell some jokes before bedtime.  It was too adorable!  I lost interest in the football game and moved over closer to the stage area.

The whole time I was getting checked out by several men.  I had one offer to buy me a drink and I told him I was just drinking ice water.  He came back with a fresh glass of ice water for me.  My glass was refilled twice without asking by the same man.  A musician had packed up his gear and was heading out.  He stopped, put his gear off to the side, and stood right next to me; almost leaning on me.    

Photo- The final song of Open Mike Night at Adobe Bar in the Taos Historic Inn.
He started talking and I asked questions about the Open Mike night.  Mark was giving me the full court press as far as hitting on me.  I had to laugh and teased him about if he had already gone through the local girls in town; Taos being a small town and all, and now he was hitting on the visiting girls. No, he claimed that was not the case.  But he said that me being a visiting girl was a bit of an aphrodisiac.  Note to you men out there— there are better lines for picking up a female.   I thanked him but told him I wasn’t interested.  He continued to be a bit persistent.  I agreed to put him in my blog in return I was hoping that he would keep his hands to himself.  I shot Mark down again and left as the Open Mike came to a close.  But Mark here’s the picture you took…
Photo- Myself and Mark.

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