A few weeks ago Stan the Man from maintenance was reminiscing about the beautiful scenery in New Mexico. Nary 24 hours later I found myself on the road to discover the beautiful countryside he spoke so highly of. Thanks Stan!
I took with me this locachona and together we ventured into the sunset.
The drive to Albuquerque was smooth sailing. We made a small stop in Kingman which, for the life of me, I can't figure out why such an awful city even bothers to exist. Then on to Flagstaff where I drank the best Chai tea that has ever touched my lips. Mmm yum. We spent some time enjoying the quaintness of the city, and experienced what would become common on this trip: kindness *gasp!*. People who don't live in Las Vegas are generally very friendly, come to find out. Upon leaving Flagstaff we only stopped once more before our arrival in New Mexico, and that was when Virginia got pulled over for speeding. Hey, those Priuses know how to kick it into gear. Beautiful drive, all in all, and it went by super fast. Literally- Virginia was driving 90 miles and hour.
Our first night in the Land of Enchantment was spent out getting to know the city. Or at least the dance floors within the city. Interesting fact about the DJs in Albuquerque, they all play the same line-up of music, and most of that music is from the early 90's. My theory is that they're trying to bring back the "Roger Rabbit" dance move-- works for me!
The next day, bright and early (we were running on very little sleep this whole trip), I called my Aunt Ruthie who lives about 30 minutes south of Albuquerque in Belen. We had met only once, but she was happy to see me and grant my request to see where my grandparents had lived. This was exceptionally generous of her, and I was thrilled every step of the tour. First, I met her sister and mom (my grandpa's sister), which was very moving for me because my grandpa died when I was quite young and my memory of him is slight, if there at all. After a brief chat with them Ruthie and I crossed the bridge into the neighboring town of Tome (I drank in Spanish), where my grandparents and their parents once lived. I loved being able to see the corner lot that my grandma and grandpa once called home. Of course, it is totally different now, with new owners and more development, but still... they had been there! After that she took me down the road to the house of one Ponteleon Montoya (what a seriously great name) who is the father of my grandpa (Felipe). It's amazing the house is still standing given how old it is, but I'm grateful to be able to have seen it. Ruthie waited patiently while I took several hundred pictures, then took me to our last stop, the Tome chapel.
After leaving Aunt Ruthie I headed back to Albuquerque and grabbed some lunch with Virginia before we headed up to Taos. We were both excited to try Southwest cuisine, but after seeing an Ayurvedic restaurant we both agreed healing Indian food would take priority for this meal. Seriously, imagine the endless possibilities of pleasure that happen inside a World Vegetarian Cafe... I could never pass up an opportunity like this!
The man holding the coconut is a very wise practitioner of Ayurveda (look it up, or read the sign in the picture-- it's really interesting). Just by looking at me he could tell the order of my 3 Humors and warned that if I didn't start smothering myself with sunflower oil nightly I would become unbearable. Ha! Jokes on him, I already am!
After our wholesome and enlightening meal of delicious (so good, so good) Indian food, we were back on the road. We purposefully detoured through a small town called Espanola (Spanish Girl) because it is known as the Lowrider Capital of the World, which sounded like an invitation to meet Latinos if I've ever heard one. Alas, there were neither Lowriders nor Latinos to be found, but the drive-through liquor store/bar made us realize that perhaps this wasn't a city to stay in. Plus, it has the highest percentage of drug related deaths in the U.S. On to Taos!
We arrived in Taos after the town had gone to sleep for the night, but it was still fun to drive around and see the cute shopping centers, downtown, and snow covered houses. We made it just in time to eat authentic Southwest food before the restaurant closed (hint: if anyone ever offers you avocado pie, DO NOT turn it down, it is amazing).
Taos is an awesome place, no joke. It's a ski town so tourism is big in the winter, but otherwise it's really small with few residence. There is a ton of art and so many interesting people to talk to. In a beautiful, artistic cafe, I asked for directions and was floored by the amount of help and care people responded with. Being a Sunday, there wasn't much to do, but the locals offered great conversations and interesting stories and tips for our travels. We were in no hurry to leave, so we stopped by an Arts and Crafts fair and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It started to snow while we were there too!
The rest of the day was spent driving into the Northern part of New Mexico and enjoying the scenery. We were up on top of snow covered mountains, and moments later down in dry valleys with cattle crops. What a magnificent state. We spent that night in uneventful Santa Fe and started back home early the next day.
A gorgeous river that I don't remember the name of: