New Mexico – A Quick Trip to Santa Fe

Santa Fe is well worth the visit. It has literally miles of museums and galleries.

Surprisingly quick trip from Nanaimo BC to New Mexico. Spent most of my travel time in airports and the least amount of time in the air. It’s only about 3 hours to Denver Colorado from Vancouver and an hour more to Albuquerque.

My first stop on the way to Santa Fe was Placitas, a rural town about 40 minutes north of Albuquerque. I stayed on an acreage surrounded by hills and mountains, dotted with juniper and aspen trees. The background is mainly brown rocky terrain and the dust is kicked up by the winds, but there is a certain charm to this desert landscape. Certainly artists and artisans have capitalized on the unsung beauty of the place and the history and culture of the peoples who live here.

Placitas is below the Sandia mountains
Junipers dot the landscape

Placitas is just outside of the city of Bernalillo and is part way between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. After a tour around Placitas with a friend, we headed into the Sandia mountains for some hiking to a cave that is accessible from a spiral staircase. Way above the valley, it was a good viewpoint to see New Mexico’s terrain. It is spring time so the temperature is reasonable and the trees are in bloom

The trail to the cave
Up the spiral staircase
The view from the Sandia Man Cave the haze is from fires in northern New Mexico
Inside the cave

I took the train from Placitas to Santa Fe. The Road Runner as the train is known, is great and runs from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and it cost me a grand total of one US dollar. The train runs through ranch country, passing through Indigenous Pueblos and small settlements. The rural areas of New Mexico look a little poor in places with run down looking homes and collections of old broken down vehicles. This is in stark contrast to the city of Santa Fe,

An hour on the train and an easy walk to the hotel San Ensendor Motel, I stashed my bags and had an afternoon to wander. Santa Fe is definitely a tourist destination. It was very busy and as I discovered, home to many events, including this car show in the main square.

Shiny old cars and trucks really bring out the crowds
Ruby Red
The downtown Santa Fe Blues

Santa Fe itself is well worth the visit. It has literally miles of museums and galleries, a world class opera (which sadly was not in season) and ancient traditions that continue to flourish. Everywhere you turn there is an impressive array of paintings, sculpture, pottery and photography and artisanal crafts. Easily walkable the streets of Sante Fe are full of life, bright with colour, music and good food ranging from Asian to local cuisine.

A fun place to visit for a few days, wandering the streets is exactly what the old city seems to be laid out for.

The spiral staircase in the Loretta Chapel

In addition to it’s artsy nature, Santa Fe has a rich history and is supposed to be the oldest capital city in the United States. The central Plaza and Catholic Churches, including the Loretta Chapel and its famous spiral staircase, are reminders of it’s days as a Spanish Colony established in 1610. Also well visited is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Basilica of St. Francis

The number of museums and public galleries is staggering. Three days in Santa Fe are not sufficient. In order to see them all you would need several more days. Visiting the museums reveals the pre-colonial peoples and their history and the blend of cultures that resulted post contact with the Spanish. In Santa Fe you will find the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and Museum of New Mexico of Contemporary Native Arts and many others.

Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
Georgia O’Keefe Museum
Settler Mule Teams – Bronze
Pueblo Style Architecture

The week flew by and after the wedding of my friends, I returned to Albuquerque and flew home to Canada. Luckily the covid travel restrictions of the past few years have started to relax and made the trip much easier and more relaxed.

Bonus Months in the Yucatán

Wandering in the time of Covid!

So many plans so many cancellations and permutations. How do I count thee???

It seems that many of my plans to go somewhere, (South America, San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca City for example) meet up with someone, and do something new and different just haven’t been possible, reasonable, or safe, at least in part due to COVID. A surprise? Not really after two plus years of pandemic practice I think we’re all better prepared to handle dash of uncertainty with a smidgeon of chaos.

I’d like to say that I’ve held a sunny que sera sera disposition throughout it all but I’d be lying. I am a planner and not being free to plan, enact and relish travel has caused a few frayed edges. Having said that I want to clarify that in spite of it all I am more than happy to follow public health safety measures and have the greatest regard for those who are keeping us safe.

At any rate this is a travel blog and I digress but a point I’d like to make is that if you expect to leave COVID behind when you travel during the pandemic that is just not the case. Adaptability, flexibility and rebounding with plan B remain the hallmarks of travel and are only intensified during the time of COVID!

So here I am, enacting plan B with spending two and a half months in the Yucatan, a place I know and love, remembering to count my blessings.

Spanglish – Leaning into Spanish

I have been fortunate enough to have had several very good Spanish teachers over the years. I studied at the University of Havana and had a great tutor named Ernesto. In Progreso I’ve studied under Luis Angel Cervantes at ”Speak Up Progreso” and have even had Luis and two of his local english language students, visit me in Canada. I’ve taken a few weeks of lessons in Nicaragua and in Puerto Escondido and even at home in Nanaimo. I am most grateful for all of these teachers and for my wonderful, thoughtful and patient Spanish speaking friends who forbear (Sandi, Ale, Rangel, Nora, Caty) while I butcher the language. With the minimal amount of Spanish I have, I feel comfortable enough to get around and survive quite nicely on my own in most parts of Mexico. Additionally, I feel that it is my responsibility as a guest in Mexico to make the effort and since there are so many different options on-line and face-to-face, there is no excuse not to invest some time.

Luis Angel’s Language School

“Puebloing”…when a noun becomes a verb!

Things to Do are endless in the Yucatan and I have written about many of them in earlier posts, beaches, cenotes, mangroves, bird watching, Maya Ruins and the city of Merida all offer great days out when you want to tear yourself away from your pool at Kurt’s place.

Kurt’s Place

After many years of renting cars and driving the backroads of the Yucatan to visit various sites I began to appreciate the Pueblos you see along the way. With a rental car and maybe some companions you can do something I call “Pueblo-ing.” Much like “garage-salting” it is a made up word which can be defined as “driving the backroads of the Yucatan specifically to visit the towns, all of which have their own special characteristics”. Each Pueblo has a main square, a comisario and a church (I call that the main event) but from there they are all unique.

Pueblos are full of character and colour
Hunucma – many Names are Maya
Weathered walls lend character
Private Yards are always interesting.
The ”Main Event”
Santa Elena
Sotuta de Peon Hacienda
Centote – Mucuyche
Commerce Flanks the Square
A Special Day in Hunucma
Services in Ticul
Maya Culture is Alive and Well in the Pueblos
Sisal – A Pueblo with A Beach
Maya House
An Abundance of Rocks Makes for Interesting Landscaping

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