Guest Post by Rebecca Borman, following a recent visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico
I recently realized that, as much as I enjoy the beauty of the southwest, I haven’t seen all that much of it. Determined to start seeing some of my surroundings, I decided to spend a few nights in Santa Fe on my way home from a recent trip to Denver. It just seemed silly to keep zooming past it on my way to and from Colorado.
Knowing that my time was limited, I chose to stay in the central area of the city, at the Inn on the Alameda. The hotel is lovely, more like a series of small inns. My building had a total of eight rooms on two floors. I had a balcony surrounded by trees, making it seem like I was far away from humanity. And yet, I could hear the tolling of the church bells at St. Francis marking the quarter hours. It was a haven.
Santa Fe is known for its chilies, so I was anxious to try out that cuisine. The very efficient concierge made a dinner reservation for me at The Shed. It’s as casual as it sounds. It was lively, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Perhaps because of the margaritas? I asked the server to suggest a margarita (there were about 20 on the menu). He said the most popular is the “silver coin” margarita, so that’s what I had. I’m no connoisseur, but that was one good adult beverage!
Over chips and spicy salsa, I debated whether red chilies or green. Again the server was helpful…why not order the pollo adobo, which is chicken marinated in red chilies and smothered in green. The meal was delicious. Just spicy enough to require plenty of sips of margarita!
My limited time required an efficient schedule. The three places I wanted to visit were the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and two churches, San Miguel Mission and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, though small, contained many of her works, some on loan from collectors. O’Keeffe is known for her regional “sense of space,” especially regarding the New Mexico landscapes, and she aimed to reduce her subjects to their “essential forms.” Those descriptions helped me appreciate her work. I really enjoyed the museum.
San Miguel was a pretty but simple mission church. St. Francis, however, was more impressive, with several altars and large and peaceful grounds. The bells can be heard throughout the central part of town, lending a sense of serenity to the bustling area. And, all right, their gift shop is amazing. I found a hand-carved statue representing hospitality that I had to have. It sits on my kitchen counter, reminding me of my trip.
For lunch, I enjoyed a grilled cheese and green chili sandwich at a café along what is known as Canyon Road. It’s only a few blocks long, but it’s the unchallenged center of galleries in Santa Fe.
I’m always delighted when people are so enthusiastic about their chosen field of work that they just can’t stop talking about it. I found several such individuals in Santa Fe, one of whom was Robert, at the Robert Nichols Gallery. He introduced me to the work of two artists, Diego Romero and Alan E. Lasiloo. Both are artists in pottery, and their work is stunning. Robert pointed out that Lasiloo’s pots have wonderful texture, and encouraged me to touch them (unlike in other galleries where “Do Not Touch” signs were on every shelf). Robert also showed me how artist Diego Romero has fun with his work. He uses an ancient style of art to tell contemporary stories. My favorite features the Trickster (coyote) tampering with the engine of one of the ubiquitous New Mexico pick-up trucks. If you like this kind of art, check out the gallery’s web page.
The sky was darkening and my feet were tired, so it was time for a change of pace. One of my goals in Santa Fe was to find and bring back some of those famous roasted green chilies. To that end, and on the advice from someone at the hotel, I made my way to the Big Lots parking lot. As promised, a young man, his wife, and their little boy (maybe 4 years old) were roasting and selling chilies. “How much do you want?” I was asked. A quarter of a bushel was their smallest amount, and about all I was willing to transport home in my car. “Medium or hot? “ I gave that some thought. “How hot is hot?” She said pretty hot, but with lots of flavor. Why buy NM chilies if you’re not going to get hot ones? So the man and the little boy, wearing gigantic protective gloves, plunked a basket of chilies into the roaster and roasted them before my eyes. That’s fresh! A quick trip into Big Lots, and I had a brand new cooler in which to carry them home. I would have a little bit of New Mexico to take home with me.
That night, I had dinner at a much fancier restaurant, Joseph’s Culinary Pub. My appetizer was a ceviche, with halibut, sea bass, and red and green jalapeno peppers. Yummy. I chose duck for my entrée, and it was amazing. It was a meal to remember.
My final take on Santa Fe? I loved it! Even with only a little over a day, I felt that I had gotten a good feel for the city. If I go back, I’ll probably stay at the Inn again, because of its beauty and location. But, I also noticed lots of pay parking areas, so if I decide to stay somewhere closer to the highway, I can easily find a parking spot for the day.
It’s a city worth visiting, my friends!