Day 11 – Sante Fe

We arrived here last night passing a sign of Route 66, but for us Sante Fe was to experience some of the Spanish America culture, we will pick up on the Route 66 on Day 12 of this epic tour.

We had chosen to use Airbnb for our 2 night stay in Sante Fe rather than a hotel, as it would make a nice change.  Our home for the two nights turned out to be a lovely traditional Spanish (or Mexican) casita.  A one bedroom annex to a larger house, in a Camino area of Agua Fria in Sante Fe.  The neighbourhood reminded us of the region around Casa Goodwin in Monda, Spain.  The house was very homely with a large sitting room, good kitchen, bedroom and bathroom – all we would need for our two night stay. The owner had stocked the fridge with fresh produce which would be welcome for breakfast.

Today, we took the opportunity to take time out from the touring by car and explore this historical city on foot.  After a relaxing morning (checking up with work, emails and the building project at home – more of that on another blog to follow), we made our way out to the Outlet stores to take advantage of the fantastic prices of Levi’s over here.  Bargains purchased (4 pairs for a total of £110 – 2 pairs each), we made our way into the old town.

Shopping in Sante Fe reminded me of being in Spain, in fact I nearly asked for some groceries in Spanish as no-one in the store was speaking English.  But, I thought their English may be better than my Spanish – I was actually left wondering!!

Driving into the Sante Fe historic city centre (only 4 miles) we noticed how all the architecture had been done in the old adobe, traditional Spanish/Mexican style.  No sky scrapers in this city.

Although I really appreciated the architecture in this city, some of it did remind me of the old TV cartoon series ‘The Flinstones’!! Probably not what the City planners would want to hear!

A car park built in the traditional Adobe style

We parked up and were able to enjoy the old city on foot.  First visit was to the Loretto Chapel, built in 1873.  This was the first Gothic building to be built west of the Mississippi.  The old Catholic chapel was lovely and it did remind me a bit of our school chapel.  It’s seems funny that we are getting caught up over here with how “old” things are, yet when I think about it, my old school Chapel was of a similar age to the Loretto Chapel and Chris’ school dates back to 1495!!! However, we are embracing the culture of the various states and taking in the history on our way.

Moving on, we pottered around the market, various artist quarters and gift shops – anyone who knows Chris, will know how much he loved that!!!  But he humoured me and I had a good look around.  The jewellery being sold by the local native Americans was fantastic.  However, it was a bit (or even a lot) out of my price range as a souvenir for myself or Christmas gifts for friends and family – so sorry, we didn’t make any purchases.  I did look at some other nice souvenirs, although not made by the local tribes, some items had come from South America, so decided not to make any purchases.

We found a great lunch stop in the Blue Corn Cafe, like so many tourist places, if you go down some back streets you will find good food a lot cheaper than right by the main tourist attractions.  This traditional Mexican restaurant offered a range of complete value for money Mexican food – something of a challenge for me as I do not eat chillies or tomatoes!!  The waiter said I could have the food with chilli sauce and tomatoes on the side – so in the words of the locals I was “good to go” and I would try a range of their dishes.  A ‘combo’ of chicken enchilada, a beef taco and a chilli relleno was served up.  I have to say I still don’t like chillies, but the other two were excellent.  They came with beans and rice – no fries in site, which made a welcome change. (From Chris – much less fussy, I had a great burrito with chicken, salad, chilli sauce etc and it was great.

After lunch, we pottered on to the New Mexico History Museum and discovered a lot more about this region, and also about American history. All signage was in dual languages English and Spanish.

Another history lesson

Today’s history lesson taught us:

  • In 1540 the Spanish came into contact for the first time with the local Native Americans
  • By 1610, Sante Fe became the most northern outpost of the Spanish Empire
  • 1821 saw Mexico independence and the opening of the Sante Fe Trail between the then Mexico and the United States
  • Pieces of eight – more commonly associated with pirates, but the early Spanish coins were valued for their weight.  One coin could be divided into eight pieces, and that is where the US currency gets its phrase ‘2 bits’ for a 25 cent coin
  • Geronimo – a Native American lost his wife and children as a young man in a raid by Mexican soldiers.  He spent the rest of his life avenging this attack, evading settlers and the armies of both Mexico and the United States.  A hero to the Apache , he eventually led the last band of Native Americans to formally surrender to the US Army in 1886
  • By late 1800s many Americans believed that Native Americans were on the verge of extinction.  Educators trued to en-culture Native American children by removing them to boarding schools.  Their first goal was to replace a child’s name and identity.  English language, Christian religion, music, clothing, manners and education followed
  • Route 66 – some of this followed the original Sante Fe trail and the famous original version of the song “Get your kicks on route 66′ was produced in 1946
  • A film ‘Along the Sante Fe Trail’ was released in 1940, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland
  • New Mexico was used as the research and development area for nuclear testing prior to releasing the Atomic bomb in Hiroshima
  • The USA took the threat of the Cold War extremely seriously and farmers living in remote areas were encouraged to buy shelters to protect them from nuclear fall out.

I am not going to pass comments on the history of this country related to what the Europeans (not just British) did in the early days to the Native Americans – as my Grandmother once said to me ‘never discuss religion and politics’, and I feel the same holds on social media and websites.

Below are a few photos from the New Mexico Museum:

After our history lesson, we carried on walking around this famous old city, saw the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. Outside the Cathedral in Sante Fe is a statue of St Francis wearing his traditional brown cassock. That reminded me of a school trip to Italy when I was 15 years old, we visited a Franciscan Monastery, where the monks were all wearing the same brown cassocks.

So enough of the sightseeing, it was my turn to drive the monster (the GMC Yukon 6.2 litres V8 420 hp) my husband has hired – probably 5 litres more than I needed to drive around the city (from Chris – obviously it’s not a girly car!).  It was a problem keeping to the speed limits!!!

We leave Sante Fe tomorrow and head out to get our kicks on Route 66 – a real highlight for Chris, and on to our last night in New Mexico en route to Monument Valley before we head for Arizona and beyond.

So, whilst in New Mexico,

Un Saludo

Ax