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updated: Jul 16, 2011, 9:45 AM
If you want to be enchanted by the Land of Enchantment, I reckon Santa Fe is the place to go. There's Native American stuff, fine adobe-style buildings, too many art museums to count, and one excellent restaurant after another.
Already large 25 years ago, the artwork aspect of the city seems to have doubled, or more. Local lore has it that the towering New York art world is responsible, with many, many people in the art biz moving their paint-stained hands West - almost a fad for some years. "Want art? Go to Santa Fe!"
It's a great town, but I can't help thinking of it as it was a quarter of a century ago. As Burt Lancaster tells a young man new to Atlantic City in that great film of the same name, "You shoulda seen it back then … it really had the floy floy." His young companion looks puzzled. "Floy floy?" - and then says "Wow, look at that ocean!" (The surf is roaring.) Burt shakes his head, looks a bit sad and repeats, "Aw, you shoulda seen the ocean back then. . ." Great lines!
Burt shoulda got the Oscar for that role. And Santa Fe shoulda stayed the way it was.
Saint Faithful has gotten a little long and wide, a little more commercialized, to have the same floy floy. I still think of back in the day, when Native American women sat on blankets and offered turquoise rings and such, at what seemed like reasonable prices. Good deals abounded. Now there are shops everywhere and . . . but then, by what percentage have jewelry prices risen since, say, 1985? So relatively, maybe there's not much change? But on the other hand. . . I thought about buying a typical men's turquoise pinkie ring, but the shop wanted $160. They were willing to sacrifice it for a mere $110, but I thought that was still too much. Browse on, Tourist. I was contented with a $60 ring I had lucked into back in Ruidoso.
Art works are another category, a monster of a market. How many paintings and drawings, big and small, sophisticated and amateurish, might there be in this burg? How many hundreds, thousands? It's amazing.
The architecture's on display for free. Some local wag(s) came up with "Santa Fake," referring to the rounded-edged, brown pueblo-style buildings, the ones with timbers sticking out along the walls. They're all over downtown. Someone else added "Faux-dobe" to the local lexicon. The AAA tour guidebook is on top of this subject:
"In 1912 a code was passed requiring the use of a style called 'Spanish Pueblo Revival.' It included earth-toned, flat-topped buildings, wood-beamed ceilings and door and window frames painted white or turquoise. But the majority of houses and commercial structures have stucco surfaces that mimic adobe . . ."
These buildings are generally colored like the reddish-brown earth of the region.
Overall, a good job by city fathers and mothers -- a most pleasant town to wander in. It doesn't quite rival our own Santa Fake, St. Babs, but it's in a similar tourism category.
NEXT: Taos, the end of the line.
Red chile ristras (strings) are a popular symbol of Santa Fe.
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Like most cities, Santa Fe is growing, and the suburbs are largely
the local variety of architecture.
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