As we drove on Highway 235 toward Santa Fe we felt the altitude rise and mountains sprout.
My excitement rose as I started to see orange pueblo subdivisions appear after hours of desert highway travel. The atmosphere changed when we got to Santa Fe. It almost felt like we were entering the scene of a magical Disney movie. Tammy led us to the information center near the plaza. We were surprised to find it was chilly when we hopped out of Louis.
With only two hours to visit, the information clerk told us to try green chile at the Plaza Cafe, scope out jewelry by the natives on the strip, and visit the churches. I asked how many people pass through Santa Fe on a daily basis and she said they average 300. The most difficult problem tourists have is finding appropriate parking. Large RV’s will not find adequate space because the town was originally designed for horses and buggies. Downtown Santa Fe is made for walkers.
Another interesting fact I noted, was both of the clerks said Europeans are normally more prepared and informed tourists versus Americans. They normally have studied the area and know what they would like to see, whereas Americans tend to walk in and ask “What’s here?”
I guess when you think about it, if you fly across the ocean and only have a limited time, it is more important to know what you want to see. I like this concept and actually practiced it this past semester in my Culture of Man class. Before we traveled to New Orleans and Houston, we had an assignment to research the artists, museums, architects and cities we were visiting.
I am not practicing this method for my trip because I want to see what finds me. We didn’t even know we were going through Santa Fe at all, but I’m definitely glad we stopped. The surprise factor added much more appreciation.
I had a bowl of green chile and chicken at the Plaza Cafe. I don’t know how to exactly describe the wonderfulness that took place in my mouth. There was cheese and sour cream and shredded chicken; it was sweet but peppered and delicious. The sopaipilla with honey for dessert was the right complement.
We stopped at an ATM for Nick in order for us to check out the native jewelry and pottery. While he grabbed the cash, an older woman stopped me to compliment my shoes.
These VIbram 5-finger shoes have been a great conversational piece. We chatted with a couple from Oakland, California about them on the way to the cafe (they told us to go to Yosemite for sure). Even the natives freaked out over the shoe-gloves. One of the men offered me the ring I wanted to get in exchange for my shoes. I couldn’t let them go though. I really wanted the ring, too. I don’t fall in love with jewelry very often, but when I do, it’s an obsession.
Neither of us bought anything, but we decided to check out the Loretto chapel, which has a miraculous staircase. It’s a spiral case with two 360 degree turns. The kicker? There were no nails used at all.
Legend has it, a man walked in and told them he could build the staircase. After he was done, he left before the nuns could pay him. When they saw the case, they realized there were no nails at all. The church named after St. Joseph, and myth has it that it could have been the carpenter himself.
The church itself was very small, only about twenty pews on each side, but it was gorgeous. The gift shop was pretty interesting and I was surprised to find books by the Dali Lama there. Way to be open-minded about spirituality and miracles.
Nick and I realized the parking meter was about to run out where we had parked and neither of us had any quarters, so reluctantly we left Santa Fe to head to Taos for our next adventure.