Today, we had the idea of doing a scenic drive to the town of Taos, a little north of Santa Fe but it turned into a bit of a flop. Taos is the home to a World Heritage Pueblo community. We knew that the community was closed to visitors today, but we thought that we would do the scenic drive anyway. There are two ways to get there – the ‘high road’ and the ‘low road’.
The high road goes along the ridge tops and through some of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It travels through some tiny little communities full of artists. Because of the early Spanish Missionaries zeal to convert the locals, each of these communities has a very old adobe style church.
One of them, at Chimayo, has a Catholic Church that is reputed to have soil that has curative powers. People flock there by the thousands in pilgrimages to seek a cure for specific diseases. Its believers (not me) claim that dirt from a back room of the church can heal physical and spiritual ills and it has become known as the “Lourdes of America,” The grounds of the church are cluttered with various shrines, picnic areas and shops that sell mementos and other religious paraphernalia.
Other towns along the way support communities of artists, weavers and other forms of artisans. Some of their studios are in disused churches.
We finally reached Taos by lunchtime and found a parking spot in the square around the plaza. It was much colder today and as soon as we opened the car door, it began snowing. It was very cold and the snow was coming in horizontally. After a cold walk around the plaza, we found an upstairs grill / bar in which we could buy lunch. We had the good fortune to be seated next to a couple from England who struck up a conversation with us. They were very well travelled and over a couple of hours, we swapped travel stories and cultural comparisons between England, Australia and America.
All our thoughts of looking around Taos were erased by the falling snow so we just walked back to the car and headed back to Santa Fe. In just a couple of hours the window boxes around the plaza were covered in snow.
There is one thing about driving in America that I just can’t get used to. I’m quite OK with driving on the right hand side of the road but I just can’t get used to the road signs that give measurements in feet. Yards are OK because they roughly equate to metres and I can deal with miles. I even have developed a rough way for converting temperatures in Fahrenheit to Celsius. But when a sign says, for example, ‘Intersection 2000 feet’. I just can’t work it out. By the time that I have worked out how far 2000 feet is in yards, I’m invariably already passed the point to which it is referring.
We travelled back to Santa Fe along the ‘low road’ that follows the Rio Grande River.
We passed the edge of another snow storm and were very happy to get back to our hotel by about 5.00 pm. We wee soon warmed up by turning on the gas log fire in our suite – one of the benefits of being upgraded!
It seems that people in Santa Fe are very keen on wearing large hats. Over the last three nights we have seen people (both men and women) wearing cowboy style hats, even while eating their meal in the restaurant. This is a place where western dress reigns supreme – frock coats, denim, hats, leather waist coats, big belt buckles and of course, lavishly decorated boots. I think that I have seen Doc Holiday, Kit Carson, Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid in the restaurant over the last few nights. Tonight we had an exception, when a man with a hat looking like Indiana Jones turned up for dinner.
We are still enjoying our trip and I guess that we are going to have an ordinary day once or twice on every trip. Or, in the words of the locals, “Today was just a relatively awesome day”.