Monday, September 8, 2008

Things That Don't Get Old in New Mexico: Part I

The Southwest is one of the most beautiful places to visit. I first had the opportunity to experience its natural beauty when I was on choir tour with the SMU Concert Choir in 1988. We visited Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Santa Fe. This past week, almost twenty years later, I returned to the Southwest to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. In March, I had the pleasure of going to Albuquerque for a project I was working on with NBC’s The Today Show, and I made a friend who works in the wholesale jewelry business there. He told me that I ought to return the first week of September because Santa Fe would be celebrating “Fiesta.” As part of Fiesta, on the first Thursday of September, the city celebrates leaving the past behind by burning “Zozobra” or “Old Man Gloom” on the grounds of a school about five blocks from Santa Fe’s main plaza. My friend assured me that this was an experience not to be missed and surely not to be forgotten. That would be an understatement!

My trip started with checking into the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, which is located downtown on NW Tijeras Street. It’s centrally located between Old Town, the main art and shopping district for tourists, and Nob Hill, a quaint, but lively area bustling with activity from the University of New Mexico college students who frequent its many coffee houses, bookstores, restaurants and funky shops (My new favorite store is Masks y más, which is located on the main strip and sells every possible type of artesania from Mexico, Guatemala, Indonesia and Africa. It made me very happy to walk in since, after I lived in Latin America during college, I wanted to open just such a shop!).

Afterwards, we drove to el Santuario de Chimayó in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where we toured this little church built in the 1800s. We also saw the holy dirt, which you can take with you, in the church floor, dipped our feet in the brook out back and planted our own homemade crosses with important information on them in the far corner of the grounds, just a few feet from the vast pasture behind it that leads to mountains. Chimayó felt completely holy with a mystical air to it. We brought home some beautiful little stones from the brook to remind us of our little day trip.

On the way back to Albuquerque, we stopped at María’s in Santa Fe for some New Mexican-style carne adovada and delicious French vanilla margaritas, which is just one type of margarita on their menu of one hundred! While New Mexican Mexican food is not as tasty as the the Tex-Mex that I grew up with, the drinks were fantastic. Then it was back to the hotel for some sleep to be ready for our trek to Santa Fe and Zozobra on Thursday.

1 comment:

William F. Renzulli said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. New Mexico is certainly beautiful, and Santa Fe the best art town in the country...better than NYC because gallery staffers don't look down their noses at browsers/tourists.