By Tuesday after the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market ended, most friends returned home or continued with travels. Market weekend was HOT, over 100 degrees fahrenheit with no rain, unusual for July when afternoon thunderstorms usually cool things off, they say. There’s no air conditioning here, my local friends remind me. Adobe, shade and water are the natural coolants.
The high New Mexico desert is beautiful, austere, the color of salmon, sand, sage and terra-cotta. Only the cloudless blue sky, jagged mountains and cottonwood banking the rivers give relief to the landscape.
Beautiful pottery comes from this region
It is big country with expansive mesas and tumbleweed. Still the wild west with scattered oases.
Cemetery, Taos Pueblo, with adobe chapel
I drive an hour and a half north across Native American pueblo land — Santa Clara, Tesuque, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso — climbing up through a mountain pass along the Rio Grande River Gorge to Taos to visit friends.
Native American Tiwa people live in the pueblo
Beneath the mountain, under a cloudless sky, I see dust dancing in the distance, a funnel cloud likeness of Kokopelli blowing his flute.
St. Jerome Church, Taos Pueblo with brilliant blue altar (no photos inside)
Despite the heat, it is easy to love it here, the mix of silver, turquoise, coral, casinos, fry bread, corn, indigenous pride and creativity, ripe nectarines and peaches — prolific local bounty. This is more than an enclave for opera and art aficionados.
Colors of New Mexico
The Taos Pueblo looks much like it did forty years ago when I first visited and felt drawn by the region’s history and her native peoples.
Taos Pueblo as it was
There are a few more tourist shops, but the pueblo is otherwise untouched except by bus loads of visitors who come in early morning to avoid the sun.
Tributary of the Rio Grande runs through the Taos Pueblo
It’s not difficult to make the comparison between Mexico and New Mexico both visually and culturally. Spanish is a primary language here, and roots go deep into colonizer oppression and conversion (read about the 1680 Pueblo Revolt).
Three foot adobe walls, wood beams called vegas to hold up cedar ceilings
From history, we know that political boundaries do not define the origins of people (think Maya people of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala).
Hand-woven blanket. The Spanish brought sheep and looms to New Mexico, too
Descendants of Mexican landholders subsumed into U.S. territory in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase populate Nuevo Mexico.
Tiwa people of Taos Pueblo are known for drum-making
Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site
Many of my New Mexico friends are equally at home in Oaxaca, and it is easy to see why.
Stockade fence, adobe wall, irresistible texture
Just like Oaxaca, I love the colors and textures here, the traditions of the native people, their art and creativity. The synergy between these two places is strong and as I drive through the country, I have this feeling of peace and deep history.
Hand-hewn logs provide filtered shelter from the sun
At this moment, I’m in Huntington Beach, California, with my son Jacob. The ocean breezes bring chill to the air, even though days are warm. It’s great to be back in the land of my growing up and connect with family for more than a few days.
Turquoise doors, Taos Pueblo