The Spanish colony

Cathedral of St Francis - Santa Fe

Cathedral of St Francis – Santa Fe

After 11 days in National Parks and desolated places, except for Las Vegas & Flagstaff, Chris & I drove into a completely different landscape and it was time to explore a completely different part of the States: New Mexico!  Human history seeps from the pores of this land… Generations of nomads, farmers, builders, warriors, explorers, traders, miners & ranchers have traipsed the Colorado Plateau and called it home.  Tens of thousand of people once lived here, building villages along every creek and near every small, life-giving spring.

Adobe - Santa Fe

Adobe – Santa Fe

The first significant contact between Spanish explorers & the Native American inhabitants of the region came in 1542 when an expeditionary force, led by Francisco Coronado encountered Native American pueblos and quickly overcame them.   The Spanish remained and embarked on a mission of conquest and conversion in their newly claimed lands.  Over succeeding decades, more settlers, clerics & officials arrived from Mexico.  In 1610 the settlement of Santa Fe was established and government buildings, churches & residences began to multiply.

Adobe - Santa Fe

Adobe – Santa Fe

The buidlings & houses in New Mexico’s capital are all entirely made of adobe.  Adobe is earth , straw and water mixed and poured into forms.  After the bricks are sun-dried, they are stacked and bonded together with the same adobe mixture.  The walls are frequently several meters thick and the interiors are coated with washes of white earth to keep the rooms bright and clean.  The roofs are supported by large timbers (vigas).  Smaller wood (latillas)  are placed across the vigas and the roof is than compacted with earth.

Earthship Biotecture

Earthship Biotecture

On our way to Santa Fe, several places seemed intresting to explore and so we stopped at Earthship Biotecture, an eco-friendly ‘weird alien looking’ structure in the middle of nowhere.  Another place was the Pueblo in Taos, considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the US, with a unique architecture and of course made out of adobe.  The beautiful Rio Grande gorge was the last intresting part before we reached New Mexico’s capital.

With Jenell & Chris @ Cowgirl restaurant

With Jenell & Chris @ Cowgirl restaurant

Jenell, an adorabe lady from Santa Fe received us with open arms upon arrival and took us straight to the Plaza, still the community gathering spot and location for major events.  The Plaza was also packed that night with people listening to a local band.  After some latino sounds, Jenell took us to one of Santa Fe’s popular restaurants… ‘Cowgirl’ where they served us ginormeous steaks!   We couldn’t finish it and for the first time we acted like real Americans and asked for a ‘box’ to take the rest of our food ‘home’.  Jenell was simply an amazing lady and I think she had been all over our planet!  She wanted to share it all so badly and overwhelmed us with tips, advice, stories and gave us a whole bunch of books, magazines, … to make sure we didn’t miss anything on our road trip. Just lovely!

The Turquoise Trail

The Turquoise Trail

The next morning, Chris and I strolled through the ancient streets of Santa Fe and enjoyed the beautiful architecture, the local markets, the street musicians & the food before we jumped into the car again to cruise  ‘The Turquoise Trail’ as Jenell adviced us. Named for the rich deposits of turquoise that cover the area, this Scenic National Byway 14 is a 65-mile long one that connects ancient mines & ghost towns reborn as artist communities. Absolutely fabulous especially the tiny town of Madrid with its art, crafts, theater, etc. Originally a coal-mining town, Madrid died after the last mine shut down in 1950.  but is now a quaint art town.

The ghost town of Mountainair

The ghost town of Mountainair

Afterwards we took a journey back in time by driving ‘The Salt Mission Trail’ with pre-historic trade routes, awe-inspiring mission churches, Indian ruins.  The night had fallen and we decided to take a break in the ghost town of  Mountainair.  Maybe not the brightest of our ideas… This ghost town is now a desolated place with ranching as a mainstay.  Before 1950 it was ‘The Pinto Bean Capital Of The World’ till the bean era ended.  It felt pretty weird to stroll around in an apparently abandoned town.  But we noticed a flickering light in one of the buildings down the street and walking towards it, we met 2 local ladies who were kind enough to serve us some drinks.  Chris & I were the only ones in the building and it suddenly became weirder when the ladies revealed us a story about the haunted Shaffer hotel just around the corner.  One of the ladies had done some work there as a maid and was positive about paranormal activity in some rooms, the presence of a ghost in one of the bathrooms, moving objects in the hallway, …  Are we in a movie!?

Not totally at ease, we left this spooky place and drove further to our next destination… Roswell, New Mexico.   I hear you thinkin…

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Comments
2 Responses to “The Spanish colony”
  1. jillscherb7 says:

    Enjoying your blog again. . . .and again. . . . and again. I will keep up with your travels through the blog and know, with you, that “the truth is out there.” ; ) Pics of NM are interesting–it’s great you got to see the Earthship structures! But my friend Carole Crews’s hand-built, made-from-scratch (including baking her own adobe bricks in the sun) adobe home out across the Rio Grande River Gorge in Taos (and her book, Clay Culture, on working with adobe as an art form and building material) is much more natural and beautiful. And doesn’t use old tires which seem like they might give off some kind of gases over time. : ) See my blog for pics of Carole’s home, inside and out, just past the Colorado stuff and before the Santa Fe stuff on my WordPress blog, Bus, Book, and Hostel: An American Journey (Southwest) under Jenell Scherbel at WordPress. Happy trails to both of you! Keep posting! ; )

  2. jillscherb7 says:

    Did the “Bean era” ever really end?? The other well-known New Mexico food is Hatch Green Chilies.

    These are hot peppers grown in Hatch, NM. Add a hand-made flour tortilla, some pinto beans or black beans (canned in a pinch, but home-cooked is better), some cheese, and hatch green chilies to those beans, heat in the microwave or an oven, cover with sour cream and diced tomatoes and (sweet) green peppers, and. . . . viola! . . . you have a New Mexican-style burrito!

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