This blog post is a long time coming – it culminates my summer trip to visit my daughter and her family in New Mexico. Santa Fe is high desert with an altitude of 7,500 feet above sea level and I am very sensitive to the altitude. When I first started traveling there years ago, I got headaches and felt very faint the first 3-4 days. Now, I take liquid Chlor-Oxygen daily beginning several weeks before I go to NM until I return home to NJ. I also drink close to a gallon of water a day – because the hydration helps tremendously with the altitude. I still get winded extremely quickly and it forces me to slow down – which is just what I needed to do. I debated on making an appointment at an “oxygen bar” where you can sit in a relaxing environment and get a blast of oxygen – for a fee of course, but after drinking the extra water, and slowing down considerably I was able to manage on my own.
I go to Santa Fe, New Mexico annually to spend time with my daughter and her family – and the time of year I go varies each year. This time I decided to spend three weeks there in July because the weather is beautiful and in the summer there are many outdoor art festivals and cultural activities. I spent my first few days engaging with 5 of my grandchildren (ages 15, 12, 9, 7, 3 )- playing Memory (an advanced version in which they won each time and enjoyed beating their grandmother), reading stories, watching them play on their land, observing them feeding their chickens, shopping, and simply marveling at their growth and development. My little granddaughter, that I call “Ladybug” is the only girl of the bunch (I can’t post pictures of her at this time due to spiritual reasons), but she is a feisty little mama who holds her own around her 4 brothers. They are all smart, creative and sweet, and the 3-year old baby boy, (the youngest of my 11 grandchildren), whom we affectionately call “Juicy” thinks he is as big as the rest of them, and tries to keep up with everyone.
Santa Fe is truly an art lover’s paradise. Art is everywhere… the buses are a beautiful turquoise color, the bus stops have mosaics or wrought iron designs. Large sculptures are often found on the sides of the road, up in the mountains and in front of buildings. Santa Fe has tons of art galleries, museums and public art installations. Santa Fe is the home of the Museum of International Folk Art which has the largest collection of folk art in the world. The International Folk Art Market, held in July is the largest market of its kind and attracts people from all over the world. I was actually in NM during the market, and had originally planned on attending, but I didn’t feel like dealing with the massive crowds on this trip.
Many old Western movies have been filmed in Santa Fe, New Mexico at Bonanza Creek Ranch. As a result of the name, I assumed the TV show Bonanza had been filmed there, but it was actually filmed in Nevada.
My 3 older grandsons and I took a day trip to Madrid, NM (pronounced MAD-rid). Madrid is located on the Turquoise Trail which is a 50 mile scenic drive along Highway 14, between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The drive along the Turquoise Trail is absolutely beautiful, with random art installations on the side of the road or on the mountain cliffs, and it takes you back in history through the old mining towns of Golden, Madrid and Cerrillos.
Madrid was founded in 1891 and was once a historic coal mining town, with several thousand residents. Then it became a ghost town, and it was re-established in 1970 as an artist haven. Today it is a thriving mountain community of about 300 people, an artists colony and a popular tourist destination. Madrid is a creative community with many eclectic shops, galleries (both indoor and outdoor), a park, a few restaurants, and a variety of other businesses. Most of the shop owners, and residents are not from this area – however, many of the owners said once they visited the area, they fell in love with it and relocated.
Madrid is one long winding dusty mountain road, an uphill climb with shops on either side of the street. We walked and walked and walked… Everything is artistic… from the fences made of old mattress box springs to the random sculptures on the side of the road and in front of local shops. I enjoyed talking to the shop owners to learn about their crafts and stories – where they are from and how they came to Madrid. We spent time at the local park – and I am thankful my grandsons still like to run, play and enjoy the outdoors.
We ate lunch at The Hollar – and it is always challenging finding good choices for vegetarians/pescatarians! The fried green tomatoes, fried okra, vegetarian burritos and beer battered fish and chips were delicious. As we were eating, a man walked in “wearing” many parrots on both arms, and he gave the boys a chance to hold the parrots and of course Grammie was on the spot with the camera to capture these precious moments.
I was blessed to have a poetry reading while I was in Santa Fe at Teatro Paraguas. It is always a great feeling to share my writings in a new environment. The audience, which included a friend and some of my family, was small, yet receptive to my pieces.
My daughter, grandson, long time friend Nona and I were fortunate to the part in a tie-dye indigo workshop with a world renown artist, Gasali Adeyemo at Meow Wolf. Gasali Adeyemo is a Yoruba from Nigeria and a traditionally trained batik and tie-dye, indigo master.
Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is an immersive, permanent art installation featuring an amazing non-traditional form of storytelling. This unique and exploratory space was originally a bowling alley and was redesigned into a new age, indoor odyssey! Meow Wolf was formed from a collaboration of over 100 artists, resulting in a very creative, imaginative and interactive experience. They also host workshops and events at the space.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is known as a food lover’s paradise. It is home to many diverse restaurants, award winning chefs and incredibly tasty southwestern cuisines. In addition to traditional Mexican dishes, you can find cuisine from many diverse cultures, including African, Asian, French, Middle Eastern and Italian. Spicy food is common and the number one question in NM when it comes to food is do you want “red or green chili” and I love them both depending on what type of dish it is. My grandsons wanted go to an Asian restaurant, so we went to Jinja Bar & Bistro in Santa Fe. The food was absolutely delicious and I was amazed at how well my grands ate with chopsticks, whereas Grammie used her knife and fork – lol.
My friend Nona – whose friendship started at Lincoln University many moons ago, came to visit and we explored art galleries on the historic Canyon Road, and dined at several restaurants, including Jambo Cafe, Counter Culture, Caffe Greco (right in the heart of Canyon Road), Cowgirls, Bumblebee’s and a few others.
In the next blog post, I will take you on my journey to northern New Mexico and the cities of Chimayo and Dixon…