On a whim I went to New mexico in February of 2018. A friend of mine had planned a trip to go check it out and asked if I wanted to come along. One cheap plane ticket and I was on my way!
My main takeaway from New Mexico was how the colonization of North America has affected an entire culture. The descendants of those Native Americans still feel the repercussions of that genocide today. It is heartbreaking and shameful and isn’t talked about nearly enough.
Mixed into the fabric of this interesting corner of our country is pride, culture, art, music, history, steadfastness, and a lingering injustice.
Arts and Culture
I think one of the most interesting ways to explore a region is through their art museums. Often they are curated to reflect the art and artists of their region as well as bringing in art from around the world. It’s through those regional artists and their work that I learned so much more than I had known previously about New Mexico and its inhabitants, both indigenous and non-native.
We visited multiple museums while in New Mexico. The first was Albuquerque Museum. There were so many power pieces reflective of life for Native Americans and also for Mexican Americans who had immigrated to America. One of the pieces that stopped me dead in my tracks and brought tears to my eyes was Border Crossing by Luis Jimenez. Especially in early 2018 when we were still in the midst of shock and dismay at our American politics, this was especially poignant. Another exhibit at the time was called Making Africa which discussed both race in America and the ethnic identity of African roots, a subject close to my heart. It was powerful and beautiful and my entire experience at MA was very moving. Artists work shown below: Kudzanai Chiurai and Mikhael Subotzky.
In Santa Fe we visited the Institute of American Indian Art. Again, so many of the pieces speak to the colonization of the Americas and the genocide of its indigenous people. The pieces were moving, beautiful and primarily created by native American artists. Artist work shown below: Terran Last Gun and Chad Browneagle
Our last museum stop was the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. While I was a casual fan of hers and went primarily because it was in walking distance to my hotel, learning her history as a pioneer in the art world for women of that time was very interesting. She created works for close to 80 years, choosing not to raise a family so she could focus on her work. A fascinating woman.
Eat, Drink, Sleep
I’m not a food person so I didn’t write down every good meal, and there were plenty, but a few experiences stand out. On the top of Hotel Chaco is a rooftop bar called Level 5. We had an incredible experience, watching the moon rise over the mountains while sipping perfect cocktails in front of a fire wrapped in heated blankets (it was February and quite chilly). One the last day of our stay in Albuquerque we went to Old Town Farm and Bike In. One of my favorite experiences of the trip, we walked the bike path from our hotel just outside Old Town down to this farm. It was a sunny morning and it was nice to see people out and about. When we got to the farm we found out they had recently built a little cafe as opposed the the food truck that had been there years prior, it was a nice surprise. I opted for several items as I was not only hungry but wanted to try everything. I had mini-quiches, soup, coffee, mint iced tea and chocolate cake, all for breakfast! One of the young men in the kitchen told me it was his grandmother’s farm and this idea of having a place off the bike path for bikers to stop and get coffee and a light breakfast had grown year over year. We were there was the first day they were open for the season in 2018 and it was nice to see so many people stop in and greet one another. It’s clearly a hang out and it had a very comfortable friendly quality. The grounds, gardens and horse pastures made it feel like it was far out in the country instead of walking distance to the highway. Such a sweet spot.
My favorite favorite place was Chez Mamou, a french restaurant and bakery. We ate there several times and once I popped in just for a pastry and coffee. It will stand out in my mind for a long time, it was charming and delicious.
I’d be remiss to not mention Marble Brewing, one of the largest brewers in the area. I thoroughly enjoyed all of their beers. The service however left much to be desired.
My favorite bar was Del Charro! We went twice in our two days in Santa Fe. The burgers were what drew us to this little local spot. I like going places where locals hang out and this seemed like the spot. There were definitely a lot of travelers as well. We ate burgers, drank bourbon and listened to the Eagles while talking with strangers who bellied up to the bar.
Our one hotel of note was the Inn and Spa of Loretto. Our room was small but nicely appointed. We enjoyed the steam room and outdoor hot tub. More than anything we had such a nice time sitting by the fire in one of the rooms off the lobby across from the bar. With a nice big glass of red wine we sat in a room filled with art, in front of a roaring fire and stayed up way too late talking, the perfect end to a great day in Santa Fe. The staff was impeccable, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer experience.
Adventures - Albuquerque and Santa Fe
Somehow we managed to cram so many adventures into 5 days. The Albuquerque Botanical Gardens was stunning. Even in February with very few items in bloom it was gorgeous. Walking around Old Town was interesting for the architecture and cute little shops. Our best adventure was taking a hot air balloon ride! I have wanted to do this since I was a little kid. Prior to my trip I was at my favorite breakfast spot discussing with a friend this possibility, but I am also afraid of heights. When my waitress brought my coffee in a mug with hot air balloons on it my mind was made up. I believe in goofy signs like that! It was an amazing experience. We used World Balloon and Mike, our pilot was great. We flew up and around Albuquerque, and even dipped down into the Rio Grande. It was a beautiful experience and I would highly recommend, even if you are afraid of heights!
We took the train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and spent a few days up there. I LOVED Santa Fe. I would definitely go back. Meow Wolf is a must see. You can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like, we spent 4 hours exploring and I could have stayed a lot longer. Leave yourself plenty of time. It’s fun for all ages and you will see kids and adults alike. The best description would be: an immersive interactive art installation that’s a lot like being on an acid trip. Definitely make time to go if you are in Santa Fe! We stayed near The Plaza in Santa Fe and that little area is just charming. Lots of restaurants, shops, and historical spots to explore. We walked everywhere!