more articles like this
updated: Jul 23, 2011, 9:30 AM
Taos is worth the 105-mile drive north from Santa Fe, but probably not worth an overnighter unless you want to visit Georgia O'Keeffe's home or D.H. Lawrence's ranch , both of them way out in the boonies. It's 50 miles to Casa O'Keeffe, and I was disappointed to find that entrance is $50 per person, with reservations strongly recommended. Interestingly, O'Keeffe herself was once quoted as saying that an artist's work is the main thing of interest, not the artist's house.
I studied Lawrence for an entire semester back in the day, but wasn't interested in his house and "ranch" either. He was only there for two years. Not all of his novels are memorable, as I recall, so I let it go. Lady Chatterley wasn't rolling around in New Mexico's hot sand with her boyfriend anyway. Their little affair was All-English sport. ("L.C's Lover" was banned in the U.S. then, in about 1956. this was caused by the presence of the "F" word. After I paid $12 for a badly printed version mailed to me from Sweden, "LCL" immediately came out in a cheap American paperback, "F" word and all.)
Meanwhile back in Taos, the main attraction is the smooth, graceful buildings. It is claimed that they have been continuously occupied for more than 1,000 years! The present residents are known as Taos Pueblo Indians. They speak Tiwa.
I asked an Indian carrying wood between the pueblos what the correct name of his tribe was, and he became irritated when we couldn't make sense out of each other's English. He waved us off and walked away. I think we were confusing Tiwa with the Indians' name. Seems to me that the name was something other than "Taos Pueblo," which Dr. Google tells me is the correct anglicized name.
Some, including me, would call Taos a one-stop town. The Pueblos, two large multi-unit structures facing each other north and south (a few hundred yards apart), will soon be joined with another under construction on the north side - instantly historic. It costs tourists $10 per person per visit, plus $6 if you're carrying a camera. The $26 it cost us to walk up close for photos (see attached) was worth it, but only barely. You could almost get by with a telephoto lens from beyond the pale. There's no guard or even a fence. No matter. This seems to be the place where the cliché, "sleepy pueblo" originated.
Most of the rooms are private homes, so tourists aren't very welcome, it appears.
There was at least one curio shop room in the south pueblo, and a young girl in an alleyway cooking fry bread. The old guy in the shop seemed philosophical enough, and didn't mind that I decided against buying a ring. Like Santa Fe's offerings, it was too expensive. I wasn't paying attention to the walls, and don't know if they were mud or wood. It was pleasant in any case.
I also didn't notice if there were small corner fireplaces like those in at least two Santa Fe motels we'd seen. There was, however, a very large communal oven, rounded cone-shaped, out in the yard.
The young woman frying bread was charming. She worked the dough like that of any other bread, rolled out a flat circle and dropped it into boiling oil. Poof! Very tasty bread in moments. Squirted with a little honey, it made a satisfying mid-morning snack.
Lunch with Cecelia, one of my high school girlfriends (there were only three, and none serious) featured great New Mexico-style chili rellenos in a restaurant out on the north edge of town.
Cece lives in a modern house next to her daughter's 200-year-old adobe out in the country. She also lives in close proximity to three horses, four loud dogs and an undetermined number of cats. She's a long way from her native Santa Barbara, but loves New Mexico.
We may have missed some good things about Taos, as we miscalculated our time and ran out of it, but Googling reveals not too much. It looks to be a miniature version of Santa Fe. There are about 5,000 people in the town, resembling a high-desert Carpinteria with pueblos.
It's time to close this little excursion into north-central New Mexico, a very fine place.
This is one of the two ancient pueblo buildings in Taos. A third is under construction, in the same style.
The pueblo to the south is older, but looks like the one on the north side of the Taos Indian land. A carefully guarded river runs between them.
A pueblo woman whomped up some fry bread for our snacking pleasure.
Turquoise is the only color widely used by the Taos Pueblo Indians, and is widely used in Santa Fe as well.
6 comments on this article. Read/Add
# # # #