Photo by Maher El Aridi
There’s nothing like taking a break under big stars and a never ending sky. That’s exactly what you’ll find on a three day getaway to Sante Fe, New Mexico. New Mexican culture is rich with Native American heritage and home to 23 tribes and 19 pueblos. Can you imagine driving through a city and seeing both modern and traditional squat pueblo-style houses covered in traditional stucco relatively untouched by the modern architecture you see today?
The reservations and pueblos have different professional specialties, from casinos to retail business, and weaving. You can see the teepee making businesses with large stick frames pointed to the sky, half wrapped in the cover fabric and printed with traditional tribal images.
Amidst the mountainous landscape, the sky is low and clear of any clouds on most days and it looks like you’re even closer to heaven and able to speak to God from such a spiritual place. If you need to see what I’m talking about, I would suggest checking out a bit of Georgia O’Keeffe’s renowned work and best known for her beautiful landscapes from the New Mexican desert.
This trip had four amazing highlights in addition to visiting friends and enjoying a spiritually cleansing experience.
1. Oja Caliente Springs
Imagine being in a place where the air is cool and wafting with the scents of frankincense and flowers and the water is naturally warm and revitalizing. This place can most definitely be found just an hour from Santa Fe at the hot springs of Oja Caliente. At this resort and spa, you can reserve a sweet little bungalow and take advantage of their full suite of services like private hot springs, massages, facials, mud baths, and more.
Although the prices can be steep for specialized services they have weekly evening specials that make the springs accessible to people from all walks of life. An evening or day at the springs would include a dip in the Arsenic, Lithia, Iron, and Soda pools. Each pool has its own healing properties. My favorite, the Iron pool. The water is so dense it makes you feel lighter than air.
2. Taos Mountain and the Rio Grande
Although these places are within an hours proximity, the travel to them will take you through beautiful birch tindered forests, up winding narrow hills all with panoramic views of the budding Rockies. There is something about the view that is incredibly majestic. I suggest taking your own panoramic pictures so you won’t miss anything.
The Rio Grande brings much-needed water through the tree-dotted valleys to the lower drier countryside. If you have the opportunity to take the low road down, you’ll be riding along the current where you can see local farms being irrigated, activity seekers river rafting, and fishermen catching dinner for the week. In the picture below you can see the large crack running through the earth with Taos Mountain just to the right in the background.
3. The art
Amidst the backdrop of mountains and sky, it’s hard to forget the amazing works of art that exist in Sante Fe, from highway murals to sculptures, you’ll be inspired. One can’t forget the Native American artists that produce jewelry to sell at local markets as well. Each stall is filled with unique pieces made from copper, silver and turquoise amongst other precious stones.
You can also visit the Museum of International Folk art on museum hill. During my visit, I enjoyed a talk held by Karina Puente one of the Women’s International Study Centers 2016 Resident artists. Her artwork involved 15ft installations of papel picado better know as “cut paper.” This Latin American tradition can usually be seen on a smaller scale during festivals and especially during el Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. The folk museum has amazing sculptures, paintings, and historical art pieces. You won’t want to miss any of the unique opportunities to interact with local artists so be sure and look up an art talk or two.
4. The Food
I don’t care where you go within the United States and abroad, there is always a traditional recipe that involves some kind of fried dough. For Mexico it’s the churro, for New Orleans, it’s the beignet and to Santa Fe, it was the Sopapilla translated as “soft pillow”.
The Sopapilla, much like it’s Native American brother, fry bread is deep fried and crispy on the outside. The yeast in the dough creates a large pocket of air making it puff up like a little pillow of delicious heaven. Be sure and check out the Pantry Restaurant on Cerrillos Rd while you’re there. Their full offering of homemade pies, Chile Rellenos, and stuffed sopapillas will leave you happy and with satiated delight.
Another town favorite is the green chili burger and it doesn’t get any better than at Sante Fe Bite just a short walk from the Plaza in Old Town Santa Fe. Due to the warm and temperate climate of New Mexico chilli peppers both red and green grow by the bushel. You can find them as a decorative hanging pieces set up to ward off evil spirits outside homes or mixed in recipes both sweet and savory. Be sure and have your burger and sopapilla Christmas style so you can have a taste of both.
Your next vacation doesn’t have to take your entire leave allotment. Trips like this can give you a new experience and exposure for how things are done in another part of town. Where will your next 3-day getaway be?