I just returned from a five day jaunt to New Mexico. While I stayed in the desert between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, I spent most of my days in Santa Fe. I had never been there before and had always wondered about this town that had a funky, artsy reputation. It lived up to that reputation, in a big way!
While it is somewhat true that this is where “old hippies” live, I found it to be a diverse and dynamic town. It is the oldest state capital in the country, celebrating its 400th anniversary this year and is in the high desert mountains at an altitude of 7,000 feet (as in, expect a headache and becoming easily winded the first day unless you live at this kind of altitude normally). A summer visit means heat, but dry heat, despite the afternoon thunderstorms. The architecture is old and new, but all consistently western, adobe-style buildings.
Santa Fe Architecture
I was fortunate enough to stay at the Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo, 20-some-odd miles outside of Albuquerque, pretty much in the desert. The hotel, adobe style in the middle of undeveloped land, felt like a sanctuary. Owned by Native Americans (but managed by Hyatt) the resort is on a reservation with expansive views of desert-scapes and looming distant mountains. Sitting on the balcony of our room, or the hotel veranda meant listening to the sound of the wind across the desert, or the scurrying of wildlife - it is *that* quiet here! It was peaceful, meditative and refreshing - especially the morning that a Native American musician gave an outdoor flute concert and the mellow tones floated across the landscape putting me into a trance.
Sunset from the veranda at the Tamaya Resort
Days in Santa Fe did involve a 45 minute freeway drive so if you really want to be in Santa Fe, stay in Santa Fe. But I found this desert oasis to be worth the driving. Santa Fe is a tourist town, and the first day there I visited galleries, shops and eateries on the Plaza, along with all the other tourists. Lots of interesting things to see, but quite "touristy" I thought. The further off the Plaza I wandered, the more interesting it got.
Even the statues wear jewelry in Santa Fe!
I discovered two incredible photographers in galleries whose work spoke directly to my soul. First the work of Lisa Kristine, on display at her own gallery on West San Francisco Street. Lisa Kristine travels, lives among and photographs the indigenous peoples on multiple continents. Her images are stunning and startlingly authentic. The second was the work of Jeffrey Becom on display at Verve Gallery of Photography on East Marcy Street. He is a writer, designer and “visual anthropologist” and similarly, his work results in his keen eye catching extraordinary beauty in ordinary places. .
Day two included a visit to the workshop of Sherry Stein who makes fantastic bags inspired by old carpenter bags and doctor bags. Her bags are all made from materials made in the US, by local workers who take great pride and a sense of ownership over what they make. I couldn’t help myself and I ordered this bag, which is being made to order for me. I am happily anticipating its arrival in a few weeks.
Site Case from Sherry Stein - mine will be in darker brown leather and a black base!
My third day there was a Saturday and I spent the first few hours of it at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. One of the top 10 Farmers Markets in the country, it was fabulous. There were many local, organic farmers selling squash blossoms, beets, sunflowers and lavender. I was immensely frustrated that I did not have a kitchen available to me, so all I could do was look and buy items I could consume in the next couple days. But the people watching was fabulous. Santa Fe Farmers Market style includes Keen sandals, a straw hat, long hair (even if it is gray) and lots of turquoise jewelry! So many people were dressed this way that I wondered if they had some kind of city-wide dress code! I did buy a cookbook named “One Taste; Vegetarian Home Cooking from around the World” by a Santa Fe resident Sharon Louise Crayton. It is about nourishing both the body and the spirit when cooking and provides meditations you can practice in the kitchen while you prepare the dishes.
The area around the Farmers Market, known as the Railyard, was filled with many interesting galleries and shops as well. Less commercial, less tourist-driven it was a pleasure to spend a day exploring this newer area, which also had some wonderful places to eat. I used the City Guide from design*sponge, which they recently updated. So if you go (and you should!) check it out for lots of listings of restaurants, galleries, shops and museums.