Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Taos and Beyond

A few weeks back we went to visit the Pueblo of Taos. This National Monument was added to the World Heritage List in 1992. It is the first living world heritage spot because it is home to the country's oldest continuously inhabited Pueblo Community. The Pueblo has been occupied since around 1000 and 1450 A.D. There are still 150 or so descendants living in the pueblo which has no running water, electricity or other modern facilities. Captain Hernando Alvarado was part of the Coronado expedition in 1540 and that marked the first meeting of the Spanish and Tiwa Indians who had lived in the area for centuries. Spain declared it a Spanish Village and conflicts over religion broke up what was for a while a peaceful coexistence. In 1680 there was a Pueblo revolt that expelled the Spanish from New Mexico. Churches were burned down, people killed and a lot of other bad stuff. We were here simply to see the Pueblo and area which also has New Mexico's highest peak - Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet. Our first stop was as we entered town. San Fransicso de Asis Church had just been remudded and we were told to go check it out by the visitor's center on the highway approaching town. The church was spotless and interesting. No photos allowed inside but just the outside alone had interesting enough views to keep me occupied for a while!

The drive was probably a couple hours and Jeff was hungry so we decided to eat near the church which was really situated in a parking lot with not much else around. We sat down in a lovely little place, outside in the courtyard, and had a very good lunch. With full tummies we headed off toward town. After a false start we realized we were in the town and not the Pueblo. The Pueblo was mission number one so we regrouped and headed further up the road bypassing all the galleries and restaurants and fun places. We parked and then waited for the tour. The tour was pretty crappy and if you hadn't read about the Pueblo or culture you certainly would not have learned anything. That was disappointing but the place itself was really neat and very photogenic! The cemetery (1619) was interesting since all the crosses were situated around the ruins of one of the original churches. We were not allowed to roam free around the graves and did not ask to do that. We went to the San Geronimo Church which has got to be one of the most photographed places ever - it was built in 1850 and despite being the youngest thing in the village it was still interesting. It is a Catholic Church and about 3/4 of today's Taos population share in some of the Catholic beliefs. Everyone practices native rituals in real life. Kivas were off limits. Many of the Pueblo buildings have become spots for people to sell their traditional pottery or jewelry from or food and drinks (no alcohol). I roamed around looking for things to photograph. The mountains and the Pueblo and the church and clouds and just about everything had a weird scale to it. Buildings looked small against the mountains and sky. Everything was clean and only a handful of dogs were laying around. There were not many people roaming around either.

Clouds had been moving in and it started to rain a little. We hopped into the car to head up to the Earthship Biotecture area. It was a few minutes before 5 already and they were just closing up. Thankfully we didn't have to pay for the tour there - there wasn't much there...a few neat buildings and interesting ideas behind them but really just modern day hippies in a commune (nothing wrong with that!). Jeff already knows all about solar and stuff so not much to learn there. The couple buildings we could see where pretty neat and space ship looking!

Now the clouds were REALLY rolling in, it was after 5 and we had a long drive back. We still had one more stop - the Rio Grande Gorge and its bridge. This bridge took us by surprise. We didn't have it on our original day trip plan but the visitor's center recommended it. It is a steel deck arch bridge 650 feet above the Rio Grande river. It is the seventh highest bridge in the United States an 82nd highest in the world. It was built it in two years (1963-1965). The span is 1,280 feet. Mainly it is just a giant bridge that pops up in the middle of nowhere with a kick ass view of the river below! We stopped, got out, and roamed around back and forth looking down and then out to avoid getting dizzy! It was a long way down. I laid on my stomach to photograph just to stay steady. Then we took a trail along the upper edge of the gorge so see the views from there. We spent quite a bit of time there. Then we headed down a dirt road in to the gorge to see it from below. People were rafting and kayaking on the river. We drove along the river until we popped back out at the visitor's center.

The drive back was very beautiful and we will definitely go back to explore the town of Taos and maybe do some camping or snowshoeing. There is really too much to do in the time we had and we are finding that is the case more often than not around here. That is a good thing though!

1 comment:

S.Y. Higley said...

I just want to say that I really enjoy your posts about Puerto Rico. I am sorry you left the island on such a negative note. I am Puerto Rican. I was born in San German, and was raised in Cabo Rojo. I have also lived in Virginia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Florida, and now California. I have visited New Mexico several times. I have been to a lot of places on the mainland, and Hawaii. I have experienced the United States. The U.S. isn't perfect.

I do agree that the government in Puerto Rico should do more about keeping the island clean. Whenever I go back it saddens me to see the little regard the locals have for such a beautiful place.

However, you must understand that even though Puerto Rico is an American territory, Puerto Ricans, like myself, do not consider ourselves from the United States. Puerto Rico has its own government, its own laws. Puerto Rico has a rich culture with its very own traditions. Puerto Rico is not a state. While its splendor is undeniable, it is a step above a third world country. And, it is beautiful. I am Puerto Rican. I have a caucasian American husband. My children are half white, half Puerto Ricans. While I have lived in the United States for 30 long years, I would never consider myself an American. There is such a thing as Puerto Rican pride.

I'm under the impression that some individuals move to Puerto Rico with very high expectations. Just because the island is an American territory does not mean that it will be like any other place in the U.S. Have you visited Guam? Guam is also an American territory. Guam is much like P.R.

Yes, Puerto Rico can do better. It is sad the people of Puerto Rico cannot appreciate their wonderful landscape. The Puerto Rican government should enact laws that protect animals. Like you, I love animals. Something needs to be done about that as well. I can understand your frustration. Though, I would think it would be best to put your energy towards doing something positive. It doens't have to be big, time consuming, or complicated. You don't have to start an animal shelter but you can do something as simple as write and send a letter. Make a difference.

S.Y. Higley