In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 2 (Acoma Sky City)

So, after we left El Morro, we went east on the NM 63 until we hit the Interstate I-40 again. And we went on for a short way, and decided we would visit Acoma Pueblo, and then look for some lunch. For your convenience, here’s another look at the map of New Mexico.

[[image:us63.jpg:Review Map of New Mexico:center:0]]

The plan for the second half of the day was after Acoma Pueblo, we would drive to our next hotel in Taos, New Mexico.

So, we got off the I-40 by Acoma and took the road into the pueblo. Acoma Pueblo is also known as Acoma Sky City because this thousand-year-old still lived-in traditional pueblo is situated on the top of a mesa. So the people who lived in the pueblo were able to defend themselves from invaders, from other native american tribes to the Spanish conquistadores. They lived on top of the mesa, but kept all their livestock and their crops in the flatland below. Even water has to be hauled up from below. Which does limit the extent to which the citizens of Acoma Sky City could withstand a siege. But from their vantage point, they can see any approaching invaders and can prepare themselves.

As we approach it, here’s what we see:

[[image:us92.jpg:Approaching Acoma Sky City:center:0]]

The table-land ahead of us is where Sky City is located. We park our car at the visitor center, and pay our fees to take the guided tour of Acoma Sky City (visitors are only allowed up to the pueblo on a guided tour). The fee was $10 per person, and it was $10 per each of our still cameras (videos were not allowed). Seriously, $10 to bring our cameras??? It galled my thrifty Asian soul, but figured that when else would I ever come to Acoma Sky City, so we shelled out the dough for both Abah’s and our camera. But geeeez…. $20 just to take pictures? Native American cekik darah betul!!! Of course, given the much more serious transgression of genocide, I suppose I can forgive them for taking advantage of their heritage in order to make a living. But still…

OK, OK. I have to get over that. And so we got on the shuttle bus that took us up to the mesa top where Geri, our tour guide, took us around:

[[image:us104.jpg:Geri giving the tour:center:0]]

Geri was very knowledgable and informative. Acoma Sky City is one of the oldest, still lived-in functioning traditional pueblo in the United States. They choose to keep the traditional ways, so there is no running water and no electricity and there are 13 families who live there year round. I believe it was mostly the elders and the respected of the tribe. The rest of the tribe live in the surrounding areas and come to Acoma Sky City for feast days, and the like.

Below is the San Esteban del Rey mission. We were taken on a tour inside the mission, but asked not to take pictures of the internal. It’s still a working catholic church, but catholicism is mixed with the traditional puebloan religion as well. Geri told us about how the mission was built (on the backs of slave puebloan labor, really), and its history.

[[image:us94.jpg:San Esteban del Rey mission:center:0]]

[[image:us93.jpg:The side of San Esteban del Rey mission:center:0]]

Then we proceeded to walk around Acoma Sky City while Geri told us more about her people’s history and culture.

Some pictures of us around Acoma Sky City:

[[image:us95.jpg:Mak and Abah at Sky City:center:0]]

[[image:us96.jpg:Vin and I by a traditional puebloan house:center:0]]

[[image:us98.jpg:Mak, Vin and I by the Acoma National Forest (the one tree behind us):center:0]]

[[image:us99.jpg:A view of the houses in the pueblo:center:0]]

[[image:us100.jpg:The tour group:center:0]]

[[image:us103.jpg:Mak and me:center:0]]

Along the way, there were different pottery and other crafts station. Mak really wanted some of the beautiful native american pottery, but pottery doesn’t really travel well in suitcases for the 24-hour flight back to Malaysia. So she had to be content to take a picture with some of the pottery:

[[image:us97.jpg:Mak wants some pottery:center:0]]

Traditionally, the pueblo houses were not multi-stories tall. The extra stories were added on through the years to accomodate growing number of family members. And traditionally, there were no large doorways. Just small windows paned with mica (not glass), and small “crawl-ways” that the women folk in the house could defend against invaders by “clobbering” them as they crawled through the crawl-ways. The main entrances were up on the roof of the building. These ladders take you up to the roof, and the women could pull up the ladder, thus keeping any invaders off the roof and away from the domicile’s main entrance.

[[image:us101.jpg:Ladder up to the roof:center:0]]

They baked bread in these ovens:

[[image:us107.jpg:Traditional native american oven:center:0]]

But there really was an amazing view from on top of the mesa. I don’t know how people were able to get any work done, I could just spend hours and hours just looking at the view.

[[image:us102.jpg:Mak enjoying the view:center:0]]

[[image:us105.jpg:More of the view:center:0]]

Mak really enjoyed Acoma Sky City. For one thing, it was incredibly quiet and peaceful. Her sinuses cleared up, and her cough went away – she was smelling all the food and breathing in that good clean air. (Mak had been coughing for months prior to this trip, and the cough and her sinuses have not benefited from the haze due to the fires in Indonesia). She felt really good here at Acoma Sky City.

But our time at Acoma Sky City had to come to an end. Mak and Abah took the shuttle bus down, but Vin and I decided to walk down. Abah took a picture of us as the shuttle bus passed by:

[[image:us106.jpg:Waving to the bus:center:0]]

Some children were playing and running down the hill as well:

[[image:us109.jpg:Children racing down:center:0]]

There were kids on the other mesas, running and climbing and having a lot of fun. It’s not like the rocks are small, it’s pretty high up. Look!

[[image:us108.jpg:part of the mesa where Sky City is located:center:0]]

We took some pictures by the visitor center:

[[image:us110.jpg:Mak and Abah by a statue:center:0]]

[[image:us111.jpg:Mak and me by the sign to the Acoma Sky City museum:center:0]]

After our outing at Acoma Sky City, it was past 3 PM and everybody was just famished. We got back on the road but had to wait until closer to 5 PM at Santa Fe before we found a restaurant! We ate at the Cracker Barrel, which is a down home, country cooking sort of chain restaurant. We had catfish, fried shrimp, hash brown casserole, southwestern hash (eggs, potatoes, peppers), and Abah happily ate his french toast and eggs.

While waiting for the food, we played the peg game. Here’s Mak and Abah playing together:

[[image:us112.jpg:Mak and Abah playing the peg game:center:0]]

I had never won at the peg game before, and here I am, last peg standing! The first time that’s ever happened!

[[image:us113.jpg:I win!:center:0]]

After we ate like we were starving (which we were), we relaxed for a little outside the store, enjoying the sunset.

[[image:us114.jpg:Vin and me, really kenyang:center:0]]

[[image:us115.jpg:Mak by a planter of pansies (I think):center:0]]

Abah took this picture of Mak with the sunset behind her. I think it’s a really cool picture:

[[image:us116.jpg:Mak during sunset:center:0]]

And I took a picture of Abah, who took pictures of the sunset:

[[image:us117.jpg:Abah busy photographing the sunset:center:0]]

So we pushed on to Taos, New Mexico, where we would spend the night. I’ll return with Day 3 of our Southwestern Road Trip next, but leave you with some more attempts at photostitching.

[[image:usph05.jpg:Acoma Sky City buildings on the right:center:0]]

[[image:usph06.jpg:View of other mesas from the Acoma Sky City mesa:center:0]]

[[image:usph07.jpg:More of the spectacular view from Acoma:center:0]]

[[image:usph08.jpg:View of the mesa on which Acoma Sky City is located:center:0]]

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