A travel journal
to Santa Fe by SeenThat
Quote: Northern New Mexico is home to many Pueblos, a Spanish word used for the indigenous people. Springs and trails, archaeological sites and living Pueblos offering the best of their heritage, a small stream called "Rio Grande" (Big River) and an awesome desert await to the travelers.
Ojo Caliente and Pusi Complex: A bit more than an hour north from Santa Fe through Road 285 is the Ojo Caliente-Posi complex. Ojo Caliente means "hot eye" or "hot well" in Spanish and is a gorgeous mineral spring offering seven pools, created from the water originating in a subterranean volcanic aquifer. Nearby, is Posi-Ouinge, or "Greenness Pueblo" in the Tewa language, an abandoned settlement dating back seven hundred years and related to a reunification story. An Apache Circle: this journal entry tells the story of my meeting with Shanadii, Geronimo’s granddaughter, her invitation to participate in an Apache religious ceremony, and the ceremony itself.
A walk through Tesuque Canyon: A spot of greenery nearby downtown Santa Fe, the canyon can ease a stay in arid New Mexico; a picnic next to a shy stream and an abundance of natural shade can provide a striking break from routine. Riding a freight train to Lamy: The Santa Fe Southern Railway connects the Guadalupe Station in town with the Amtrak station in Lamy. Freight trains transport goods between the two and offer tourists unusual rides.
The altitude sun is unforgiving, altitude sickness is not expected, but the sun radiation is strong and sunburns common, a hat and sunglasses are essential during all the very long light hours; keeping hydrated is very important in this over-dry area. Temperatures can change quickly, thus taking extra clothing in the backpack is a wise step. Meeting locals is the best tactic to find those special places that only they know; visit the churches on Sundays, make friends and invite them to a special picnic in a place only they know. Santa Fe’s Pueblo architectural style is special.
Based on adobe, a mixture of sand, soil, straw, and water, the houses are low and have rounded edges painted in soft colors. Newer houses are constructed from modern products, but are kept low and covered with a special cement blend which keeps the town’s aspect unspoiled. It is worth visiting those houses; the trunks supporting the ceilings cannot be appreciated from the exterior. A good tactic to accomplish that is visiting houses on sale.
There isn't an effective public transport in the Santa Fe surroundings, and except for the train journey described here, all the travels must be done in private vehicles. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief stops in Lamy, 30km south of the city. The Lamy Shuttle provides service to the city by reservation, 982-8829; there is no other transport to the town. TNM&O coaches link to the Greyhound terminal, also known as Santa Fe Bus Station at 858 St. Michael Dr. 471-0008.
The local buses charge a flat one dollar tariff for all distances, but they are seldom seen; the main stop is in Sheridan Street, next to the Museum of Fine Arts and the central plaza. Decorated buses, leaving next to the central plaza, perform tours around town for ten dollars and leave at round hours from 11 to 15. Capital City Cab, 438-0000, offers taxis at all hours. Santa Fe Municipal Airport has commercial flights to Denver and Colorado. Roadrunner Shuttle runs shuttles to downtown. Hertz and Avis car rental agencies have offices there. Albuquerque International Sunport is one hour drive from Santa Fe and all major car agencies have offices at the Sunport.
Restaurant | "Lamy Station Café"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 3, 2008
Lamy Station Cafe
There is no entrance fee and the first kilometer or so is on a narrow corridor between private properties; barbed wire obstructs the view of the nearby stream. Cottonwood provides a soft coating to the pleasant path; flowers, butterflies and caterpillars provide distraction from the ugly fences. At certain moment, the urban area ends and the path runs from there along a shallow stream, sometimes from the right, others from the left; simple bridges help the crossings. The fertile ground, much darker than the usual in New Mexico, hosts a welcomed greener landscape; healthy pines, huge sage and chamisa bushes and plenty of colorful flowers thrive here. The vegetation is tall enough to partially obstruct the sunlight and beautiful shade-patches offer breezy spots for a delightful picnic. There are no shops at the entrance, thus, the bread and cheese, and maybe a small bottle of wine, should be brought from the town. The many trails around the town, limit the number of visitors in a given day; during a 2 hour walk, only a few couples were spotted. After walking a while, the path begins to climb towards the somewhat far Santa Fe’s ski basin and announces the end of a pleasant afternoon.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 30, 2006
Santa Fe, New Mexico
A bit more than an hour north from Santa Fe through Road 285 is the Ojo Caliente-Posi complex. To arrive there, a car is essential, since there is not a friendly system of public transport in the surroundings. The only place for confusion is at the town of Española, where the road makes an unexpected and poorly marked turn. To check the trajectory, note that you must cross the bridge over the Rio Grande, and a few kilometers later, another one over the Rio Chama. However, missing the Rio Grande Bridge will result in a visit to Taos, in itself another attractive location in the area.
Ojo Caliente means "hot eye" or "hot well" in Spanish and is a gorgeous mineral spring offering seven pools, created from the water originating in a subterranean volcanic aquifer. Four springs feed the pools: the lithia, the iron, the soda, and the arsenic ones. The lithia spring is located at the site’s central plaza and is offered as drinking water, there is not a single pool connected to it. Flowing at 43°C, the iron spring flows from a natural earthen floor, providing hot spots to discover in an outdoor pool. The soda spring is cooler, while the arsenic one flows at 40°C. The last one is offered in private indoor tubs; additional pools offer extra hot and cooling waters. A dry and a wet sauna are available. In early May the place was almost empty on a Sunday visit, adding to the feeling of luxury. A ticket allowing the use of all mineral pools, steam and sauna costs $16 during the week and $20 on the weekends; the spa and massages are priced separately. Private outdoors pools can be rented; 50 minutes there cost $40 for two guests. If entering the place after 6pm, there is a special sunset rate, lower by $4 from the regular one. Watching the moon over the tastefully lighted cliffs is a sight to remember. Unfortunately, the place closes at 10pm; but lodging couples can stay up to 2am for an additional $150.
The hotel attached offers a single room for around $83 and a double for $110 in the high season; cottages are available as well. Its attached restaurant offers excellent, but pricey, dishes in a Pueblo style room. If eating before approaching the pools, I recommend light dishes. The salads and enchiladas are excellent and are served with fresh buns and tasty olive oil as a dip. The coffee is a bit below the expectations.
Tienda Ojala, on the access road to the springs, offers many souvenirs from the area, free maps, free email check and a good espresso. The place specializes in jewelry, gem minerals, metal sculptures, rugs, and furniture.
Posi-Ouinge or "Greenness Pueblo" in the Tewa language is an abandoned settlement dating back 700 years and related to a reunification story. Tewa people tell that at the beginning they were one people; at certain moment they divided themselves into two groups called the Winter and the Summer People. The groups traveled alongside the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama and they reunited at Posi. The place was abandoned after an epidemic struck the location. The main Tewa location nowadays is the nearby Oke’onwi or San Juan. The original site of Posi has been excavated and is behind the springs; thus, it is perfect as a prelude to the pool. Exploring the site, dining, and entering the pools after dark can make a perfect day. The unpaved trail to Posi is steep and rocky in places, sandy and level in others and it roughly follows the dry Ojo Caliente River. The length of the round walk between the springs and the sight is about two kilometers, taking water and comfortable shoes is a good idea. Along the terrace can be seen an array of rock alignments delimiting the gardens of the inhabitants. Low, round mounds mark the sites where the rain melted the adobe houses. Earth they were and to the earth they returned.
"Hello, there is someone who wants to meet you," I was told in my third week in one of the local temples. Following a short talk, I found that I’ve been invited for lunch in one of the suburbs by Shanadii, Geronimo’s granddaughter. Not knowing who Geronimo was, I used the trip to get a brief update by the brothers who invited me and shortly after we arrived to a large house surrounded by a forest of pines, majestic Ponderosas and sturdy Pinions. Two years short of eighty, Shanadii turned to be a vigorous soul with a rare intelligence. "You want to drink something," she asked while leading me to the kitchen, where maybe two hundred kinds of teas were awaiting me. Looking at the wide choice and wanting to drink the same one as she, I asked which one was her choice; "I drink coffee, from the soluble kind," she shot while lighting a cigarette which was exchanged by others until I left a few hours later.
Next week, I was invited again, and after a couple of coffees, she told me: "I want to give you a gift; you are invited to our next Fire Circle." Fire Circles turned to be ceremonies of religious nature performed by the Apaches and other related groups in which a representation of their orally transmitted traditions is done around a central fire. When the time came, I arrived to the same site and around 5pm we had a magnificent potluck and waited for the weather to cool down a bit.
One hour later, we were led to a small opening in the forest, where a circle of stones awaited us. Thirty-two participants sat on the stones while Shanadii took an elevated seat just out of it and presided the ceremony’s different stages, which were performed by others. A central fire was lighted, and then the drawing of The Circle began. The drawing was done with grounded corn and created sharp yellow lines on the pastel brown ground; after putting the corn on the ground and drawing the desired shape, the line was redrawn with a finger following the corn path, so that each line got a depression on its center.
The corn is considered a sacred plant due to his many uses in their culture. All the drawings were done at the rhythm of a slow, deep drumming. The first drawing was a circle around the central fire; it represented the Earth and was drawn, as most of the other pictograms, from the east through the south. Following was the Creator’s Circle, wider and containing the first one. Four short lines, each one marking a compass direction, crossed the circles and then Infinity Lines were added at the intersection of those with the outer circle. The Infinity Lines were shaped as an "X" with their center at the exact intersection point and they represented the gifts of the Creator to us.
Two short lines connecting the inner part of the X’s to the compass line were added and represented our thanks to him. Shanadii asked from the drawers to explain the meaning of their doings and sometimes added a few words. Following, two Pipes of Peace were added in each quarter and represented the different people; they represented a kind of New Covenant between the Creator and the People, following an old downfall. The pipes had a feminine and masculine side and their symmetry showed a perfect equality among the genders. A third circle was drawn between the pipes, showing the unity among people. Then two shapes were added in each quarter, next to the outer circle. First, a symbol for the trees and another for the bushes were drawn at the southeast quarter, then one for the four legged creatures was drawn at the southwest quarter, and then symbols for the sea water creatures and the birds in the third quarter. In the last one, symbols for the fresh water and crawling creatures were added.
Shanadii explained then that we are living in a transition year, and the mark for two-legged creatures (humans) was added next to the four-legged one. In other years, the human’s symbol is not drawn. Ending the circle, a symbolic eye was added at the outer part of each "X" and a blue point, the only non-yellow point in the whole drawing, was added to each. They represent the constant watch of the Creator over his creatures.
Once the drawing was finished, a fourth circle—the four being a sacred number in their culture—was created on the central fire and was dedicated to the Creator. Then, everyone stood up around the external circle and prayers were said, the fire was left to burn and we left. At 9pm, already in darkness, we devoured the rest of the food and traveled home, not without an invitation for the coming Solstice Circle.
Tel Aviv, Israel