Our First Pueblo

San Ildefonso Pueblo Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 25 › view all entries

We were ready to go by about 7:30 but opted out of the included breakfast because of the carbs and ended up at the Plaza Restaurant. What an absolute KICK! We were greeted at the door by the very exuberant Karen. Karen sold us on trying orange juice with some watermelon juice mixed it. The combination was outstanding! Lin had an omelet of Mexican cheese while my omelet contained chili relleno. Talk about starting the day with a kick! Karen, very obviously from New Jersey, has lived here for years and was a wealth of knowledge. She gave us lots of recommendations for things too do and places to eat and to stay.

Upon leaving there, though, we went to the tourist info for maps and other assistance. Tom, the guy at the desk, was an absolute riot! Good advice with entertainment thrown in.

According to him, he’s a government employee but he certainly is far from the stereotype; Tom obviously loves his work!

We'd agreed that our objective for the day was the Jemez Mountain Trail but that we’d take it easy and not push to accomplish the whole thing. Though the man we'd talked to at the tourist office on Saturday had told us only Acoma and Taos Pueblos were worth seeing, our first stop was at the San Ildefonso Pueblo. Boy, were we glad we stopped! It was a fascinating place and I took lots of great pictures. Visitors must first stop at the visitors' center to pay an admission fee and to buy a camera permit if photos are desired. The very friendly hostess gave us a map and explained where we could go and what areas were prohibited.

That routine turned out to be pretty common at the pueblos. I can't say I blame them; if hoards of tourists wanted to wander around my neighborhood; I'd want some control over them as well. In Sandra's pottery shop we came across Sandra's husband, Raul, and ended up buying a bowl. We learned that the red pottery and the black for which Sa Ildefonso is famous are made from exactly the same clay; the difference is in the firing. In both cases, a fire is built and both the fire and the pots are covered with "cow patties". (Isn't that an appetizing thought!) If that's all that is done, the resulting pottery will be red. However, if the cow patties are later covered with horse manure(!), black pottery will result. The pot we selected had not yet been fired so, since we already have a black pot at home, we asked that ours be made red. Raul agreed to have Sandra fire it that way and ship it via UPS. (Just for the record, we paid cash, he didn't charge anything for shipping and the pot arrived at our home as promised shortly after we did.)

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San Ildefonso Pueblo
photo by: jhwelsch