New Mexico Up, on the way to Taos
For some reason this area of the southern interior of the United States became known as “land of enchantment”. It is justified to take pride in the title to the point that authorities have used it as an epithet and have sprawled it on New Mexico car plates since at least 1999.
We followed in a Californian car. On the trip between Albuquerque and Santa Fé, negative temperatures surprise us.
And a hit-and-run blizzard that quickly freezes the dazzling road we were walking on. Almost as fast as it had arrived, frigid time headed for other places.
We detour west, aiming for the Bandelier National Monument. When we entered there, the desired combination of clear skies and radiant sun once again blessed us. We had given the first grandiose testimonies that the Puebloan Amerindian civilization left to these ends of New Mexico and to the neighboring states of Colorado, Utah and Arizona. They would not be, by far or near, the last.
The Puebloan Legacy of the Bandelier National Monument
We walked up and down hills and slopes, intrigued as to how, between 1150 and 1600 AD, they had settled and thrived in caves and openings carved into the great rock walls and riverbeds of the Pajarito Plateau. We explore their almost millenary homes for two hours on end. The only reason we didn't proceed is because, in the meantime, the sun had gone down more than we expected.
Taos was still an hour and a half away. We point to Española. We took State Road 68 and followed it in the company of the Grande, one of the Yankee nation's many famous rivers and moviegoers.
Farther down the map, the Grande leaves New Mexico and enters Texas. Its sinuous flow marks, there, the southern threshold of this state and establishes the border, zigzag to match, between the United States and Mexico.
We were well north of that streak that The Donald (Trump) made so controversial. The same frontier where the always superb John Wayne makes Colonel Kirby Yorke, at the head of a cavalry post plagued by the Apache Indians who, in the homonymous feature film, launch successive raids from the Mexican side.
The Big One we were chasing was another one, a newborn. It had a few hundred kilometers from its source, formed by the cluster of streams in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Along the great Rio Grande
Above Road 68, we saw him pass in the vicinity of successive settlements with Hispanic names: Santa Clara, Española, Pueblito, Alcalde, La Villita, Los Luceros, Velarde, Embudo, Rinconada and so on.
At some point in its course, the river attracts the RD68. It leaves with the 570 and, shortly after, with the 567, heading north. We, remain faithful to State Road 68 towards Taos.
We arrived already over another frigid nightfall in time to take refuge in a convenient roadside motel, the Super 8. There we hurriedly installed ourselves.
But we changed our minds and ran off towards the church of San Francisco de Assis, one of the missionary temples in the region, located in Rancho de Taos, still today, the scene of regular masses.
Coming from Santa Fe, we were already used to the adobe buildings that were sometimes elegant and now elegant and monumental in New Mexico.
Pilgrimage to the Desert Church of San Francisco de Assis
Built by the Franciscan Fathers between 1772 and 1816, the church would prove to be just one more. This, if its historical origin was not that of a shield of faith against the frequent attacks of the Comanche Indians of which the settlers became victims.
At that almost nocturnal hour we didn't find a soul. Neither Indians nor cowboys, Franciscan priests, or any other human race valid in New Mexico, by the way. Even so, we were left to photograph it under a twilight that the advance of time made religious.
After all, we were standing in front of one of the most painted and photographed churches in the USA. The proud authorities of Taos claim that it is, in fact, of the entire world.
Its Hispanic colonial architecture seemed humble to the friars who designed and supervised it. Today, this domed and yellowish simplicity is seen as an incredible expression of subtlety of elegance. It justified the adoption of Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams, among many other painters and photographers, of artists in general.
Not conditioned by our own limitations and reverence for the building, we wanted to stop taking a good photographic record from there. So we wait for the moment when the bright yellow of the illuminated façade and the blue of the sky vault shine more and we take our photos, surrendered to a distorted trilogy of the temple, the cross of Christ and the white statue of St. Francis of Assisi .
on the way to Taos
A few minutes later, pitch took over the scene. Since sunrise and Santa Fe, we've been traveling and discovering the post-colonial heart of New Mexico. At that late hour, we had a bit of energy left. We longed for a rest in the Super 8, the motel located in a wide valley between the already distant edge of the Chihuahua Desert and the mountains of Sangre de Cristo.
The dawn arrests us with a meteorology equal to the predecessor. We dashed off to Taos. It may sound strange, but we were so intrigued as to what we would find in the old Taos Pueblo that we crossed Taos city without stopping.
When we check the path on the map, we notice a curious reality. Until then, the Rio Grande had the fluvial role of New Mexico.
The Unexpected Fluvial Confluence of the Taos Plateau
There, where Taos and the secular town of the same name had settled, the rivers and dimples (channels) were many more. Flowed the Lucero and the Pueblo de Taos. These branched out into various secondary courses and rejoined. Farther southwest, the Pueblo de Taos would surrender to the Great.
All these flows irrigated and smoothed an alluvial plateau situated above 2.000 meters. Much due to the water generated by the melt to the north, the aridity of the Chihuahua Desert gave way to an area of transition to the mountains that heralded the Colorado highlands, its meadows and forests. Thus, we understood why the natives chose this area a long time ago to settle down.
A Millennial Adobe Village
We parked at the entrance to an earthy open space. Onward, there was an eccentric conglomeration of unpainted adobe houses, one stacked on top of the other. They formed about five levels of housing. And patches with rounded edges, at first sight uniform but that made up an unusual general geometry.
On the ground floors more accessible to visitors, we found small and dark shops of handicrafts: the Indian Taos; the Dancing Hummingbird.
Most advertised pottery, costumes and jewelry. One in particular even promoted storytellers.
We advance towards the heart of the village. We sat on a bench in an adobe forward home, of course. An adobe so pure that yellow straw still came out of its cracked clay. Without warning, a couple opens a red door and sits down beside us. They were Beatrice and Joseph, Pueblanos brothers of the Tiwa ethnicity. They ask us if we need help. From this welcome, the conversation came to flow around the world.
Conversations Around Genetics
"Sara, you look like Navajo, you know?" For co-author Sara, it was another ethnicity/nationality to add to her list. One because it didn't count.
We had already visited and toured the Navajo nation north of the Grand Canyon and around the famous and Monument Valley movie buff. For reasons known only to reason, it was there, in the village of one of the tribes that once more rivaled and warred with the Navajo, that Sara was confronted with such a comparison.
The Ancient Pueblanos of this area are also now popularly known as Anasazi. Now, Anasazi has long been used by the Navajo to designate their “ancient enemies” in the southwest. The descendants of the Puebloanos disapprove of him. They prefer to see their ethnicity treated by Ancestral Puebloanos. Anyway, in that town unbelievable in Taos, we were still at peace, among friendly natives.
Sara has gone over to the natives. As I gazed at the trio, I couldn't help but see and feel a solid foundation in Beatrice's observation and the similarity of the three looks: slanted, dark eyes with incomplete brows. The straight black hair and the similar shades of skin, Sara's more like Beatrice's.
As I saw her, the shy Joseph's brown, sun-streaked male face made him a half-case by himself. To me, Joseph was a real Redskin, with nothing pejorative.
We continued to chatter in the shade and resume Beatrice's observation "It's just that my father is Chinese." explains to Sara, what brings to light the great Paleolithic migration of the Asian peoples to the Americas through the Terrestrial Bridge of Bering. The topic would give us a lot to talk about. In practice, we agree that the three should share the same genetic base some 15 or 16 thousand years ago.
The Taos History of Resilience
It is estimated that Taos was founded around 1000 AD It is the northernmost of the various Pueblos in New Mexico. Around 150 people live there all year round and many more share their lives between modern houses in the surrounding Taos city (during the harsh winter) and their small businesses in Pueblo, when the mild weather of the rest of the seasons. year allows it.
The city of Taos, on the other hand, to which we soon moved – originally Don Fernando de Taos – resulted from the colonization that followed the Spanish domination of the pueblos.
Taos – the city – experienced indigenous revolts against the missionaries and the order. Later, he joined the Mexico. And with the political-military supremacy of the USA sobre or Mexico which resulted in the delivery of much of Northern Mexico and New Mexico, Taos also changed “owners”.
And your new artistic age
The colonial adobe eccentricity of Taos soon attracted a flood of creative souls. At the turn of the XNUMXth century, the city welcomed the first artists, excited by the inspiration of those places so different from the USA
The works of the local community of artists and their studios, meanwhile considered historic, helped to make the town notable and attract curious outsiders, like us, there.
Another of its iconic buildings is the home of Kit Carson, a legendary American pioneer, fur hunter, agent of Indian affairs who brokered countless disputes between the settlers and the Indians, later promoted to officer in the US Army. United States.
Carson remains buried near the home-museum, with his third wife Josefa Jaramillo.
Enriched by its extraordinary multi-ethnic, multinational, multi-a little of everything past, Taos continues on the path of its history, more alive than ever.