In the high deserts!

Santa Fe Travel Blog

 › entry 17 of 18 › view all entries
With architecture like this.. who can take their eyes off these lovely buildings!

For the first time in all the trips that I have been on, I dont have an itenirary chalked out. I dont have a plan. I dont have print outs of all the bus routes. I dont have a visitors guide.

And for the first time on a trip, I'm just sitting in front of a church (supposedly the oldest church in the US!).... with my feet up on a bench... my netbook on my lap... doing absolutely nothing!


The sun glaring down at me.. the chill in the breeze giving me goosebumps.. with little mud houses scattered all around in the background.. this trip to Santa Fe is the vacation that I never had!


I have to go back and apologise to Bhagwad.

My lovely inn :)
. I know now what he meant when he said that our vacations/tips are always too hectic to enjoy.


Day 1:


My little room at the inn with walls of mud tends to get about 10 degrees cooler than the temperature outside. I didnt realise this when I checked in. The weather was nice and warm when I landed.. And I had almost begun to chide myself for having carried a sweater as well as my thick jacket. This didnt feel like a place I'd need either in! How I was mistaken! Less than two hours into bed, and I had to rush to put on warmer clothes and turn the heat up!!


The first day, I set out to explore the city. Santa Fe is a small dinky little town. Its about a half an hour walk from my inn to the heart of the city. A nice pleasant picturesque walk. And so, I havent used the complimentary shuttle at the inn as yet. With clear blue skies and a slight breeze that reminds you that you're high on a hill, Santa Fe is a lovely place to walk around.

The oldest church (supposed) in the United States


Thanks to Wikitravel, I had some idea of the places to see in the city. They were either churches or museums. Ordinarily, I would not indulge in either. I'd want something to do. Something that requires activity. But in the spirit of this being a lazy vacation, I decided to go see what the churches and museums are all about. On the first day, all I did was walk. It being Thanksgiving, most shops and insitutions were closed. And so, I just trekked around.. getting a feel of the place.


In the afternoon, I hiked up to one of the closest Indian Pueblos. As I had been warned, I was not allowed to pull out my camera.. A small group of people.. living their lives in peace and harmony.. and quite ticked off with the idea that they were listed on the "must-see" section of every travel guide on Santa Fe!


As the day came to an end, I headed back towards the inn. And I saw a glimpse of the most amazing sun set. I could see the skies turn golden.

.. and the mountains turn to a shade of pink... With a gasp, I grabbed my camera and tried to capture the moment. But as usual, couldnt. (Maybe I should consider photography classes or something!)

I was on too low an elevation to capture the beauty of the sunset.. So I ran uphill... hoping to catch another angle before the sun slid behind the mountains. But no luck there either.


I returned to the inn, dejected at not having got a better view, but set on finding a strategic viewpoint from where to capture the slipping of the sun behind the mountains.


I googled relentlessly, but it was of no help. All the spots mentioned were far from the city and needed driving to. How I hate that I cant get to the best places in this country unless I have a car.


Anyways, Day 1 ended with some catching up with work and a nice long phone conversation. And a few glasses of this lovely warm Kaluha based drink at the Inn's 24 hour bar.

And the oldest (supposed) house!


When I turned in at 2 in the morning, I knew I wouldnt be up in time for sun rise the next day!!



Day 2:


I woke up fairly early considering I had slept so late the previous night. By 8 a.m. I was washed and dressed and ready for breakfast. Immediately after breakfast, I set out - back towards the Plaza - the heart of the city.. (town, actually).


As I got closer, I heard that divine sound of church bells in the distance.. And I knew I had to go there. I spent the whole morning in churches. Three of them! AND.......I even attended Mass!!! I have to admit that this was only because it was in Latin! I had to know what it was like. And it was amazing. I didnt get a word of what was being said, but it sounded so beautiful! Then in one of the churches, there was a priest singing.

The breathtakingly beautiful theater
.. singing in no tongue I have ever heard.. or imagined. It was the most divine sound that I have ever heard. It fit so perfectly with the whole atmosphere of the church. And the fact that I was the only person in there added to the whole charm. I turned my camera's recorder on.. to capture that most heavenly sound... but somehow, when I came out of the church, there was no recording. In the practical sense of things, I had probably not pressed the record button properly. But in another sense, I guess that voice.. that sound.. is only meant to be heard and then cherished as a memory. Not recorded.


Anyway, I didnt go back in to record it again.


Instead, I went to what claims to be the oldest church in America.


You know, whenever I read about.. or watch a movie about the history of America... Of how the conquerers took over the land from the natives and then made it their own, I feel a sense of loss.

. of pain.


And being in Santa Fe enhances that even more. Every thing about this place is Native American. From the architecture, to the food.. and its sad to see that this is commercialised so much. Most of the population here is Native American. And its sad to see that this place is famous for being just that - a native american hub.


This is their country. Their land. Its sad to see that now they have become a curiosity.. something out of the ages gone by.. something to publisize and make money out of.


We used to have debate competiotions at school. Topics that made it difficult to choose whether you should speak for or against... Colonisation was, unfortunately, never discussed. It would have made such a good debate. So much good has come of it, and yet... so much bad too.



Anyway, coming back to me and my plans for the day.

The hues the sky takes on is enough reason to visit!


I had initially signed up for a tour to Taos for today. But in the morning I got a call from the tour organisers telling me that the guide had not coming back after the Thanksgiving holiday, and that they'll have to cancel the tour. Dejected, I tried contacting other tour agencies. But to no avail. Everyone was closed for the Thansgiving holidays. And so, I decided to spend off all the money I had saved at a local authentic (or atleast claiming to be) New Mexican lunch buffet. Since I had nothing better to do for the rest of the day, I decided to pick a restaurant with a bar attached. And so here I am. At a local buffet with a nice local bar attached.... trying out all the local delicacies... to eat and drink!


And now, with three strong, yet delicious drinks down, I am quite high and happy!!


I intend to go lie down on the grass at the Plaza after this...




The view from my strategic location :D
. the joys of a vacation!!!




I didnt go lie down on the grass at the Plaza after all. I was so drowsy after all that drinking that I decided to walk it off. And before I knew where my feet were headed, I was back at the inn.. in my room.. flat on the bed! I have never had such a peaceful afternoon nap!


At 5 in the evening, I woke up with a start! The sun was going down. I had promised myself that I'll find an elevated spot to watch the sun slide into the horizon.. and so I dragged myself out of bed, rang the complimentary shuttle that the inn provided, and hurried to catch a sight of the sun as it slipped away...


After a tight race with the sun, I managed to get a few moments of beauty.

Lovely churches all over the place..


The skies turning golden.. the mountains turning to a shade of pink... and the silhouette of the bare branches of the trees obstucting my view...


It was all perfect!


I stayed there for quite a while after the sun went down.. just taking in the views.. and the breeze. And then it was time for the show!


The city's local troupe was performing for the Thanksgiving weekend and everyone was talking about the show. So I decided to go see what the fuss was all about. It was basically an acrobatics based show but they had kinda added a story line to it.. and lots of humor. So it was a good watch. Entertaining.



Day 3:


In my defense, I did wake up at 5 in the morning to go see the sun rising.

But then, one look at the outside, and I was back in bed. It was cold. And at 5 in the morning, the little town didnt look quite as friendly as it did otherwise. The spot I had discovered while trekking on the first day was quite a distance from the inn. And I didnt feel comfortable enough going there all by myself in the dark.


And so, that plan was dropped. And I snuggled under the blankets for a few hours more.


Saturday is the day the locals put out their famers and artists markets. And so, thats where I headed for breakfast. I just love the atmosphere of a farmers market. Bustling with activity.. everyone fresh and full of energy.. displaying their wares... Everything smells so clean and nice..


After some hot chocolate and a strange kind of burrito, I headed to the train depot to get on a train into the desert.


This city is referred to as the "high desert of Santa Fe".

The case of the mysterious staircase!
I am guessing the high is due to the altitude. Santa Fe is supposed to be America's oldest and highest state capital.


So, I got onto the train.. and set off to see what they call the Galisteo Basin. Santa Fe is, in itself, a fairly unpopulated city.. small and quiet. And as the train moved further away from the main city, the signs of human inhabitation grew lesser and further apart.. until it came to a point where a house became a curiosity! The train dropped me off at a sleepy ghost town called Lamy. I had a little over an hour to kill there. After which I'd head back to Santa Fe.


I decided to go trekking into the desert. Now, the desert around Santa Fe isnt quite like the desert back home in India.. In say, Rajasthan. That to me, is a desert.

This was more like a completely deserted place with sparse vegetation. I could see some greenery! So, it was strange that it was called a desert. Anyways, the terrain was a huge difference from the cities like Chicago.. and I enjoyed it for what it was..


Back in Santa Fe, I decided to head towards the Plaza as I had heard that they were decking up the place in preparation for Christmas. The holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, and I guess it just stays that way till after Christmas.. And so, in the spirit of the festivities, all the trees in the plaza were all lit up.. the shops had christmas trees decked up.. and it was as if the whole city had gathered in that little central sqaure.


At first I didnt realise what everyone was doing there. And then I slowly figured it out.. There was a fire engine at the far side of the plaza.. with Santa Claus sitting atop it.. handing out gifts to little kids! And then there was music! A live band gathered on the stage and started off with Christmas Carols.. It was just such a nice festive mood and with songs like "Let it snow" and "Rudolph the red nose reindeer" being sung in the background, it was like Christmas was already here!


I sat on the grass for a couple of hours while the festivities lasted and then decided to head back to the inn.



As I was walking back, I heard some very very nice blues being played at one of the bars... I stood outside it for a while.. listening.. enjoying.. And then, as an afterthought, decided to step in.


I wasnt very comfortable initially.. I didnt want to draw any attention.. I didnt want anyone to come talk to me. I just wanted to listen to the music. And hoping that it would be just as I wanted to, I ordered some beer and sat down at one of the booths.


Two glasses later I realised that I had a 20 min walk ahead of me if I intended to get back to my hotel! And so, slightly unsteady on feet, I got ready to brace the cold night's air as I walked back to my warm and cozy room :)


Day 4:


Before I actually landed in Santa Fe, I had big plans to go to Taos.

Its a sight to see..
. to go see a few more Indian Pueblos.. to hike though some nice national parks that I had read about. What I didnt realise was that Thanksgiving wasnt just another long weekend. It was a holiday. And everyone was on a holiday! So all the tour companies were closed. And being a non-driver is such a disadvantage in this country. I curse myself to no end for not having gotten a license after I came to the US.


Anyways, we'll let bygones be bygones. The point basically is that I had more time on my hands than I had things to do.


And so, I decided to make this trip a most unusual one.


I went to museums. I spent hours and hours in churches. Even attended mass - twice! And I visited more pubs in these 3 days than I have visited in my entire tenure in the US! And I hiked and trekked and climbed all the little hills that I could lay my hands (feet?!) on!




(And like most of my recent writings, I left this one unfinished! To cut a long story short, it was a nice lazy vacation filled with food and wine J and lovely lovely sunsets.

The church all lit up
And at the end of it, I actually felt rejuvenated! Just as one is supposed to feel after a vacation! �" usually I am just dead tired and waiting to crawl into my bed at home!!)







sojourner74 says:
Hi Anupa,
I read with interest your blog on santa fe. I was at starbucks in Dallas and someone there told me I should definately visit santa fe. I'm still undecided. Do you think a long weekend say 4 days is enough?
Posted on: Dec 13, 2011
anupa_rk says:
Hey u know I'd really love to be a crazy traveling girl! Unfortunately I'm too tied down to my work. (I work for a big bad boring IT Company!) But I try :)
Posted on: Mar 17, 2010
mcphistino says:
Guess what Anupa, watching your travel routes on the google map made me grin - now I'm convinced you're a crazy traveling girl ^_^ Just kidding...
Posted on: Mar 17, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
With architecture like this.. who …
With architecture like this.. who…
The Cathedral of Saint Fransis of …
The Cathedral of Saint Fransis of…
My lovely inn :)
My lovely inn :)
The oldest church (supposed) in th…
The oldest church (supposed) in t…
And the oldest (supposed) house!
And the oldest (supposed) house!
The breathtakingly beautiful theat…
The breathtakingly beautiful thea…
The hues the sky takes on is enoug…
The hues the sky takes on is enou…
The view from my strategic locatio…
The view from my strategic locati…
Lovely churches all over the place…
Lovely churches all over the plac…
The case of the mysterious stairca…
The case of the mysterious stairc…
Its a sight to see..
Its a sight to see..
The church all lit up
The church all lit up
Christmas time!
Christmas time!
The trees are all decked up
The trees are all decked up
and the atmosphere is quite jolly!
and the atmosphere is quite jolly!
The Santa Fe Railway
The Santa Fe Railway
The desert?? Really?? :P
The desert?? Really?? :P
What a fabulous way to live!
What a fabulous way to live!
Santa Fe
photo by: anupa_rk