We are on our third night here in the Southwest part of the country and we are really enjoying exploring everything this area has to offer. Eliot lived in Gallup, NM for almost 3 years and is currently serving as the official driver and tour guide for this adventure. Our first evening here we explored Santa Fe which is a delightful small town filled with tons of local artists and great food. There are many churches in this area that have been here for hundreds of years. As we walked around we found a tiny little French Bakery that makes the best crepes and later on ate dinner at La Fonda.
Each day we have gotten up naturally early and taken a new trip out. Yesterday we adventured to Taos Pueblo which is an ancient Pueblo Indian settlement. Oddly it was another one of those moments that the Spanish guilt set in as the tour guide explained that my people forced her people to change their religion and abolish their native names. Sigh. My people never look quite good in retrospect. Their are about 50 permanent residents in the ancient village that still live without electricity or running water to preserve the historical significance of these adobe structures. We spent tons of time chatting with the various artists and falling in love with such kind hearted individuals.
This morning we did the short main loop hike in Bandelier National Park. It was a total of 1.5 miles but some of it was straight up steps. Admittedly, I was nervous. I am pretty pregnant and normally have terrible vertigo on strange mountain trails but it was great. We took it slow. Being in 6000+ elevation doesn't help tremendously with being out of breath and such but we sipped water and took tons of pictures. I even climbed a wooden ladder into a cave dwelling which look like holes on the side of the mountains but served as homes for the Tyuonyi Pueblo Indians. Then we ventured to Sanctuario de Chimayo, which was built in 1539. The most interesting part of it for me is the worship of Santo de Atocha which is the image of the child or infant baby Jesus. There was a separate church that was dedicated to this saint and it was decorated in bright colors, wooden carved trees with wooden birds placed on them, and ornate paintings lined the nave walls. There was a prayer room filled with baby shoes where I believe parents bring in the tiny shoes from their children as gifts and tangible images of their prayer requests.
In the evening, we went on the evening tour of Georgia O'Keeffe museum which was incredibly enlightening. I never cared much for her work previously but learning about her was really inspiring. She was truly a pioneer for women in the art world. We walked around town leisurely and finished the evening with dinner at Cafe Pasqual's which was amazing.
The first 3 days have been great. The hardest things to remember is to rest. There is so much to see and explore but at the end of the day, I simply can't run myself too terribly ragged. Finding the balance is an art.