Stretching across vast expanses of nothing, every breath I took felt like I was consuming the entire universe. We drove like this for three hours, from Albuquerque to Taos. You would think that staring at nothing would get boring, but in fact it was endlessly inspiring.
The second thing that you notice about New Mexico, are the people.
The warmth, the smiles all with a certainty of self. I've noticed that generally when you pay people to do something for you it is almost always followed with this disingenuous courtesy, as though they are secretly waiting to maul you when you turn your back. New Mexico was an exception to that rule. It's citizens seem to be genuinely happy, quite a rarity in the Western world.
Taos is a lovely little artist's community, with past residents as varied as D.H. Lawrence, Donald Rumsfeld and Dennis Hopper. We stayed at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa.
The decor was made from all natural materials and our terrace opened up to a view of "The Living Machine", a holistically designed eco-structure that incorporates recycled water, plants and rock formation into a self-sustaining ecosystem that flows throughout the resort and creates an enclosed sanctuary around the resort's pool
One of the highlights of the trip was a wedding ceremony that we attended at The Mabel Dodge Luhan House. Mrs. Luhan was a writer and patroness of the arts that has played host to such luminaries as Georgia O'Keeffe, Carl Jung, Ansel Adams and D.H. Lawrence in her humble abode overlooking the Taos mountains. At a late night party on the third floor terrace, I fumbled my way into the loo and unexpectedly stumbled upon several windows that had been painted by D.H. Lawrence himself.
Our last destination for the weekend was the Taos Pueblo, a native reserve on the edge of town. It had been recommended by many people who used words such as "charming" to describe it, claiming that the crafts and artistry available for purchase were unparalleled.
Instead (and I'll be honest with you) I found it incredibly depressing. It's a symptom of the American condition when tourists can visit a forcefully segregated community and not open their eyes to the truth. What was once a designated holy place now looks like a desolate wasteland. The depth and value of ancient sites such as Chich'en Itza in Mexico is lost in the Pueblo, the land having been raped by explorers and conquerors of yore. The only beauty that I found there was the church, which we learned later, is actually a major symbol of oppression and angst for the natives.
All in all, it looked like an old western flick--somewhere that you'd expect to hear wolves howling in the distance while tumbleweeds blew past your feet.
Taos is an interesting place, somewhere that I wouldn't mind spending more time in. I'm learning that diversity comes in many forms, not just the usual cultural mish-mash of urban centers like Toronto. This new idea is intriguing to me, and it makes me want to explore more...if that's even possible.
On to the UK now, in preparation for my trip to South Asia. Excitement doesn't begin to explain my feelings about this long-awaited, long overdue adventure. I'll be sure to write more as the journey continues.....