Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Mexico!

Last month, Nathan and I visited New Mexico. We flew into Albuquerque  on a Friday and rode the Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of the mountain. The tram travels 2.7 miles to the top of a mountain, and the views are spectacular. At the highest point, we were about 7,000 feet above the ground (or, as the guide said, "about seven seconds on a bad day"). Riding the Tramway is probably the most adventurous thing I will ever do in my life, and that's okay (Swimming with sharks? Climbing a glacier? Skydiving? No thanks, no thanks, no thanks).

Then we drove about an hour to Santa Fe. The drive between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is about 5% pretty and 95% desolate wasteland. I was expecting lots of red glowing rocks and interesting geological formations. Instead, it was just a lot of flat land with scrubby plants - kind of like California's desert, but even more depressing.

But Santa Fe itself was wonderful. It's a foodie town and every meal we ate was delicious - especially our dinners at Il Piatto and Compound, and the outstanding pizza at Upper Crust. I thought Santa Fe was going to be all about Southwestern cuisine; and yes, there are plenty of chilis; but you can dine on many different types of cuisine as well (e.g. pizza). 

We stayed at a hotel within walking distance of the Plaza. If you go to Santa Fe, this is the thing to do. However, I can't recommend our hotel, because the mattress was utter crap.

On Saturday, we went to the Taos Pueblo, an interesting but depressing historical site. About 135 people still live in the Taos Pueblo - without plumbing, electricity or any modern comforts. According to our tour guide, the tribe has a patriarchal government. Translation: women are not allowed to hold political office. The poverty and patriarchal government depressed the hell out of me. 

Then, since we were in the area, we visited the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I was actually more spooked by our walk across the bridge than our ride on the aerial tram. I know, my fears make no sense. 

On Sunday, we spent the day wandering around Santa Fe. Locals sell turquoise trinkets and jewelry in front of the Palace of the Governors (pictured directly below). At 9:50 a.m. on Sunday, I decided to buy a necklace from an old lady. It cost $35. I gave her two twenties, but she did not have change. As a matter of principle, I refused to pay $40 for a $35 necklace. I took the money back and we walked away. Nathan later bought me a much more beautiful turquoise necklace from a proper shop (which I now wear nearly everyday). We still talk about the old lady. I was ready to pay $35 for the necklace! She had my money in her hand! She just let us walk away!  Holy crap, lady, it's 2012. If you don't take credit cards, you need to at least be prepared to make change for a twenty at 9:50 a.m.

Strands and wreaths of chili were for sale everywhere, but I did not see a single tourist walking around with the chilis. They were, however, lovely to admire.

There must be at least a hundred art galleries in Santa Fe, and every other store is selling turquoise or cowboy boots. The town was founded in the early 1600s, and you can just feel the history oozing from the buildings.  

We visited both the New Mexico History Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art. I highly recommend both.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing photos from our day trip to Bandelier National Monument, by far the best part of our New Mexico trip.

Until then: stay safe! where your sunblock! and make sure the batteries in your smoke detector are still working!