In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 3

After getting to Taos, New Mexico after dark, we were pretty exhausted from our excessive sight-seeing. We were really glad to find the Hampton Inn in Taos. We spent a quiet night in Taos and bright and early in the morning of Day 3, we headed to Taos Pueblo.

Taos Pueblo is a thousand-year-old, still lived in traditional pueblo. Unlike Acoma, it was right by Taos, the city, and we didn’t have to go searching for it for long. We paid our entrance fee into the pueblo, and paid a mere $5 per camera to take pictures of the pueblo. After Acoma Sky City’s $10 per camera, it felt like such a better deal! And they charged a group fee for the 4 of us that was cheaper than the advertized $10 per person rate. Already, I warmed up to Taos Pueblo. ūüôā

The day was bright and sunny, clear blue skies everywhere. Such a change from the cloudy skies of the day before.

[[image:us118.jpg:Mak, Abah and Vin by the Taos Pueblo sign:center:0]]

We were told that we could go on a guided tour at 9:00 AM, and that it was a free tour. It didn’t take much else to convince the four of us that a free guided tour would greatly enhance our Taos Pueblo experience. But it was only about 8:40 AM at that point. So we decided to wander through the pueblo. Here are some of our early morning pictures.

[[image:us119.jpg:Vin, Abah and me by Saint Jerome Church in the pueblo:center:0]]

[[image:us120.jpg:Saint Jerome Church:center:0]]

[[image:us121.jpg:Taos Pueblo, with the mountain in the background:center:0]]

[[image:us122.jpg:Mak in Taos Pueblo:center:0]]

[[image:us123.jpg:Mak and Abah by the adobe buildings of the pueblo:center:0]]

Here’s Abah taking a picture of the small river that flows through and bisects the pueblo:

[[image:us127.jpg:Abah the photographer in action:center:0]]

[[image:us125.jpg:The picture Abah took:center:0]]

I went ahead then and took a picture of the other side of the bridge:

[[image:us126.jpg:Other view of the river:center:0]]

Finally, it was 9:00 AM and our tour began. Our tour guide, Julio started telling us all about the history of Taos Pueblo and his people:

[[image:us129.jpg:Julio explaining about the oven and the food that his people ate:center:0]]

The structure below is one of the 2 main houses in the pueblo (I can’t remember whether it was North House or South House, sorry). This building is 1000 years old, and every year the puebloans have to perform maintenance on these buildings, of putting fresh coats of adobe on the buildings. Imagine that, for 1000 years, people have been taking care and fixing up these houses every year. I can’t even imagine the kind of pride the people of Taos Pueblo must have in their accomplishment, despite the Spanish conquistadores cruelty.

[[image:us124.jpg:Taos Pueblo’s South House (or North House, sorry forgot lah):center:0]]

During the tour, we learned about the “new” church (Saint Jerome, pictured earlier) and also the old church:

[[image:us131.jpg:The ruined old church:center:0]]

[[image:us132.jpg:Another view of the old church:center:0]]

The people of Taos Pueblo endured the Spanish conquistadores, and even rose up against them. And in the 1800s, this church was bombarded by the US Government (I forget now, perhaps it was during the civil war) causing it to be ruined and abandoned, and the new church (Saint Jerome) to be built.

Here’s a few more pictures of us at Taos Pueblo:

[[image:us130.jpg:Mak, Abah and Vin by another pueblo building:center:0]]

[[image:us133.jpg:Mak, Vin and me by a ceremonial pole:center:0]]

[[image:us134.jpg:Mak and me by a building close to the entrance of the pueblo:center:0]]

Our tour was very informative and interesting, and Julio was a good tour guide. We learned a lot about the way of life that continues now at Taos Pueblo. Like Acoma Sky City, the people here have chosen to retain their traditional way of life, so there is no running water or electricity at Taos Pueblo. However, the river that runs through the pueblo is still now, to this day, potable water and is the source of the pueblo’s drinking water. How incredible is it, that in the 21st century, there are still rivers in this country that is safe to drink? We were certainly amazed.

Once the tour was over, we headed out. After our long day of sight-seeing yesterday, we wanted to try and take it a little easier today. We drove back to the Taos city center and walked around. Taos is a haven for artists, but we did not go into any galleries. We did however get a few mementoes:

[[image:us135.jpg:Vin and I shopping for t-shirts:center:0]]

[[image:us136.jpg:Mak and Abah posing in a plaza:center:0]]

[[image:us137.jpg:Abah found a big bunch of real chili peppers:center:0]]

And look! We encountered a cowboy!

[[image:us138.jpg:Vin bought a cowboy hat in Taos:center:0]]

After a final stop at a local bookshop (where I picked up 2 new books related to native americans – an autobiography of a native american chief Luther Standing Bear who was born in the 1860s, spent his boyhood as a native american, but became one of the first students of the Carlisle Indian School, and a novel People of the Valley by Frank Waters) we decided to head out to our final stop of the day, the Rio Grande Gorge. It’s just west of Taos, and on our way out of town.

[[image:us139.jpg:Rio Grande Gorge bridge:center:0]]

[[image:us143.jpg:View of the bridge across the gorge:center:0]]

We park the car and walk across the bridge along the walkways. And holy cow, it was incredibly deep, and so very dizzying (gayat, seriously!). Plus it didn’t help that the bridge swayed and shook while cars and especially trucks drove over it! However, when we got to the middle of the bridge, the view was gorgeous:

[[image:us140.jpg:Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

[[image:us141.jpg:Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

[[image:us142.jpg:Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

Of course, in order to feel somewhat secure, standing on the bridge, I had to keep one hand on the railing at all times. We were all overcome by a fear of heights even though the railing was sturdy and high and one couldn’t just accidentally tip over and fall down. Logically we all knew that, but somehow the gorge’s depth and the bridge’s way of shaking when a truck drove on it made us all feel like we should get on our hands and knees and crawl back to the safety of the car.

Abah took some pictures of me on the bridge:

[[image:us144.jpg:Distracted by the view and not letting go of the railing:center:0]]

[[image:us145.jpg:Holding on for dear life while walking back:center:0]]

Not just was the gorge itself beautiful, but the surroundings were beautiful. Snow capped mountains could be seen over yonder:

[[image:us146.jpg:View by the Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

The plan was to visit the Rio Grande Gorge, then find a place to have lunch on the way north-west to Durango, Colorado to spend the night. Our route to Durango in the map below:

[[image:us128.jpg:Driving directions from Taos, New Mexico to Durango, Colorado:center:0]]

Once we were on the road, we found that there were not many restaurants. After driving around famished for a while, we finally found a restaurant that was open and that looked decent in Chama, New Mexico. There we gorged on rainbow trout, chips and salsa, sopaipillas, burritos and enchiladas with salsa verde. Yummy stuff, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We were starving by then! Then on the road we went.

[[image:us147.jpg:Road to Durango:center:0]]

On the drive, we found that we were in some pretty high elevations (to keep it in perspective, Taos is at 7000 feet above sea level, and we were climbing after that). We saw snow on the sides of the road. Since Mak and Abah had never seen snow, and Abah has throughout the years and repeatedly during this visit, wished to see snow, we stopped the car for a quick frolic.

Here’s Abah’s first encounter with snow:

[[image:us148.jpg:Abah walking through the snow-covered woods:center:0]]

[[image:us149.jpg:Wheee! Mari baling snow!:center:0]]

Abah made Mak touch the snow too!

[[image:us150.jpg:Eeeeks! It’s cold!:center:0]]

[[image:us151.jpg:Mak doesn’t want to touch it anymore:center:0]]

In the meantime, it really had gotten quite cold!

[[image:us152.jpg:Freezing Vin:center:0]]

But really, it was quite beautiful. Amazing views.

[[image:us153.jpg:Snow capped mountains:center:0]]

[[image:us154.jpg:Rocky mountaintop:center:0]]

Anyway, it started getting dark when we got closer to Durango, and we started seeing herds of wild antelope and wild deer. Unfortunately it was getting too dark and none of our pictures turned out well. Suffice it to say, that I was singing “Home, Home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day”. Our experiences that day was epitomized by that song! We got to Durango soon after dark, and checked into our next hotel. Need to rest up for another day of traveling and sight-seeing. While we slept, we dreamt of the sights we saw that day, as photostitched below:

[[image:usph12.jpg:Taos Pueblo:center:0]]

[[image:usph13.jpg:Another panoramic view of Taos Pueblo:center:0]]

[[image:usph10.jpg:Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

[[image:usph11.jpg:More Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

[[image:usph14.jpg:Snow capped mountains viewed from the Rio Grande Gorge:center:0]]

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