Fanta Se

I’m not ready to leave Santa Fe but that’s a good thing, right?   You should always leave the party before you’ve worn out your welcome.  That’s my motto.

The girls came with me this time – Diva and Enigma, age 16 and 14ish.  They were only 6 and 4 when we left, but I’ll always consider them citizens of Nuevo Mexico.  An amusing aside for those of you readers who reside outside the U.S. – it’s a long-running joke how many Americans don’t actually realize New Mexico is a gen-u-wine U.S. state.  Questions crop up periodically about the necessity for international shipping, passports, phone calls, etc.  There’s a column in New Mexico magazine called “One of our 50 is Missing,” devoted to this topic.  Other people think Santa Fe is in Arizona, right next to Phoenix.  You know, in that mashup of vague, saguaro-cactus-covered nothingness located between the Great Nation of Texas and the Fabulousness of California.   When we first moved to Santa Fe and we told people it snowed there, and that there was a ski basin just up the hill in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, against which the city is nestled at 7,000 feet, they thought we were joking.

But I digress.  As Enigma and I discussed on our many walks (Enigma turned out to be quite the fan of Santa Fe), one great thing about New Mexico in general and Santa Fe in particular is it’s like leaving the country without the actual hassle of doing so.  You’re surrounded by alien landscape – buttes, pinon-studded hills, and endless sky, and that’s before you fall in love with the adobe architecture.

And the pace is so much slower.  People are friendly.  This is hard for me to type because I don’t realize how much I miss it until I visit here.  No, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but my goodness, my fellow Washingtonions could …. take a few lessons.  The modus operandi here is strangers talk to each other – in the line at the grocery store, standing next to the fajita cart on the Plaza, at the playground, etc.  You know – the way people do in small towns.  Go on, try that in D.C.   Everyone assumes you want something (probably money, because you “just got robbed” but the real need is your crack habit.)  Talk to a stranger in D.C. and watch them either ignore you or back away in alarm.  And people kept stopping for us when we wanted to walk across the street!   That took some getting used to, let me tell you (I think they do this in CA as well.)  If you step in front of a car in D.C., even if you’re in a crosswalk, you better hope they’re only driving 10mph when they hit you.   Every day there I have to put on my protective carapace just to go out and deal with what jackasses people are, whether on the highway or at Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s!   Fellow drinkers, it’s TRUE!   TRADER JOE’S IN NEW MEXICO HAS AMAZING HARD LIQUOR.   I hear this is only the case in NM and CA. They had two different Speyside single malts, and a buncho other stuff.  The Speyside whiskeys were I think $18!!!!!   And I didn’t get any!!! Because my extra suitcase is now completely full of Nuevomexicana, primarily frozen tubs of Bueno Green Chile (Autumn Roast and Extra Hot), so I can get some of that Santa Fe love back home.  Breakfast burritos, chicken enchiladas… I bet I gained five pounds on this trip, and it was totally worth it.  I won’t mention the tequila.

The girls got their Santa Fe on, which is not just broomstick skirts and turquoise necklaces, but (for the young and non-Texan tourists) a more multi-culti One-World blend – skirts from India, purses from Tibet, etc.  I think they each have a dreamcatcher; no howling coyotes, though.  I walked them through the local lexicon – coyote fence, viga, latilla, chamisa, camino, portal, ristra, and so on.  I have an agenda, no lie.  I secretly hope that one of them catches the bug and moves here as an adult, and then I can come visit.

The girls would like a dollar each for every time I said, “smell this!”  No wonder I love the smell of incense so much – Santa Fe air is clear and a combination of pitch and resin – pinon, juniper, larger evergreens, chamisa, and woodsmoke in the evenings.  It’s an astonishing smell.  We took several walks in the dry arroyo behind our old house, and up in the Santa Fe National Forest, and I could not get enough of it.  Right now it’s monsoon season and I do think it makes the resiny smells even more pronounced.

I wore no scent here at all.  How could I?  The are already roasting some of the early harvest chiles, a … well, a roasted-chile smell that makes my mouth water.  I went to the farmer’s market (let me recommend the Farmer’s Market, which is huge now) and bought a cake of stuff that is beeswax, honey, and a couple of oils – jojoba and something – and which I hope is going to be the perfect base for me to go home and sprinkle some drops of majmua essential oil on.  I also bought my Cedar Light spray, which I’ve mentioned on here before, because when I first moved here in 1990, the masseuses used to use it in their massage oils, plus up at Ten Thousand Waves, and to me it is essence of Santa Fe, of the most sybaritic kind.

Mmm, so.  I had a great time.  The house in D.C. appears to be still standing, and the Cheese, Hecate and Buckethead are happy to have us back.  I hope the dishwasher’s fixed (update: nope), and I’m going to try to hang on to some of that New Mexico attitude.

Link to the honeycake moisturizing salve, it’s on the can:

Link to Cedar Light

Link to Ten Thousand Waves, which, if you are not visiting with ooky, I-would-rather-gouge-an-eye-out-than-tub-with-you teenagers, you should definitely visit for a tub and/or massage

Link to some of the food:  Maria’s, home of excellent fajitas, salsa, and an entire menu of premium, no b.s. tequilas, and the Plaza Café, which looks touristy and is right on the Plaza and has surprisingly good food.

Culture: the Folk Art Museum is always a hit, folk art from all over the world, and we really loved the new (to us) SITE Santa Fe, which has the extremely cool 8th International Biennial 2010 right now, which is all video entries, including Lotte Reiniger’s astonishing Adventures of Prince Achmed, believed to be the oldest surviving feature-length animated film, based on episodes from The Arabian Nights.  For actual video snippets from each artist, click here.

Image: everyone and their grandma in Santa Fe has a tattoo.  We saw some gorgeous tribal ones.  So, we got fake tattoos at this joint that sold beeswax candles, Tibetan prayer flags and something else really random — roadrunner sculptures made out of nuts and bolts?  Anyhow, that’s me rocking my fake tat, to the amusement of the girls and the utter horror of a couple of old friends I met while there.  It’s a dragon, and it’s actually pretty real-looking (less day-glo) in person.   I am the whitest person, look at that foolishness.  Also,  I’m going to surprise the Cheese with it later.  Five bucks says he is not amused.

  • maggiecat says:

    New Mexico is On The List of places I must visit soon, and your column moved it up a few notches. And it’s not that far from Dallas…. Thanks for putting this particular bee in my bonnet.

    • Disteza says:

      Just to warn you, Dallas and Santa Fe are actually ~650 miles apart–not a big thing if you’re flying, but that’s a punishing 10-12 hour drive through an awful lot of brown dusty hot. One of the things I hated about El Paso is that you had to drive forever just to see a change in the landscape.

  • CynthiaW says:

    I grew up in Albuquerque and have to get my green chile fix on a regular basis – we used to bring back coolers full of Bueno when we’d visit. Then, one day, I was in our local supermarket (Brookshire Brothers, of all things, not even Fiesta) and saw it in the freezer case – Bueno green chile. I almost wept for joy in the frozen food aisle. I definitely stopped by the manager’s booth and thanked him profusely for stocking it. They carry the red, too – but I’m a green chile girl all the way.

    We visited my dad this past June and it does take a few days to sink back into the slower pace of life and feel like you can finally breathe again. It also takes that long to remember not to wait until your starving to hit a restaurant because you aren’t eating anytime soon.

    We didn’t go to Santa Fe this time – only as far up 14 as Madrid for some shopping and lunch. We were cracking up at lunch because a tourist family stormed out of the little cafe we were eating in because it was “taking too damned long”.

    Well, there’s one waitress (the owner) and one cook (her husband) and 6 tables of customers in front of you – what the heck to you expect? Not to mention the fact that you aren’t going to get served any faster anyplace else in Madrid at lunchtime and the nearest McDonald’s is probably in Santa Fe or Albuquerque – so I’m guessing that they ended up eating beef jerky from a gas station.

    • March says:

      LMAO at your Madrid story. I hope they ended up eating at Allsups. That would serve them right.

      I adjusted (I think) in every way except my walk. I could never walk slow enough. People used to call me on that all the time. I walk like I’m going somewhere, you know? Never did get that amble down.

      Where are you that they stock Bueno? And I have been to a couple of “New Mexican” restaurants here and they’re tex-mex. So sad.

      • CynthiaW says:

        I’m in Katy, TX – right outside of Houston. Despite the fact that we’re in an area that used to be surrounded by rice fields and part of the area is just about as countrified as you would think, we have a large Mexican population. In fact, my parish is split about right down the middle – so they started carrying Bueno products – not even the local Fiesta (Mexican grocery store chain that carries a lot of other “ethnic” food) does that.

        Almost all the restaurants here serve Tex-Mex (obviously), but we’ve found some good dishes if you move away from the standard fajitas, taco al carbon, etc. I do gorge on New Mexican Mexican food when I go home to visit though – only some of it doesn’t agree that much with me anymore. Of course, I don’t care, I eat it anyway and worry about the egress of super hot food later.

        I still walk superfast when I’m back there, too – I talk really fast, too – which is probably leftover from my early childhood in Ohio or is a product of me being ADD and having my thoughts move faster than my mouth is capable of.

        Even before we made it to the cafe of said incident (in which I had the most freaking awesome tuna steak sandwich and cole slaw on the planet) – we had another encounter with the same family. We were originally going to eat in the restaurant attached to the Madrid mining museum, which was supposed to open at 11:30. At 11:30, the door was still locked and the impatient family told us that someone had popped their head out a few minutes before that and said that they “weren’t quite ready to open yet”. I laughed and told me dad – “looks like we’re on NM time”.

        Well, 5 minutes goes by and the grandpa tells the kid to go check the door (like they wouldn’t tell us they were open when they unlocked it). Kid goes over and pulls – the door is locked. So he starts yanking on the door repeatedly, rattling it pretty hard and his dad finally tells him to stop. My dad rolls his eyes and says “great, that just cost us another 15 minutes – who knows when they’ll open now”. So, 5 minutes later and we walk across the street to other cafe (with the best tuna steak sandwich and cole slaw in the world) and 10 minutes after that the impatient family walks in – and the rest is history.

        Eventually, the other restaurant opened because it was open when we left our cafe – I’m guessing they waited until the jerky family left. I really wish I knew where they ended up eating – I’ll bet you’re right about Allsups – or a McDonald’s in Santa Fe. Wherever it was, I’ll bet they were hungry when they got there.

        The only place that I missed hitting when I was back was Blake’s Lotaburger. Sigh… next time.

    • Daisy says:

      Forget green Chiles—I’M GREEN with envy ! I’ve always wanted to visit New Mexico , and talking to Cynthia about her visit (with the exception of the possibility of ending up as a mountain lion snack) and now reading March’s post….and then various comments….I’m practically laying on the floor sobbing with the intensity of my desire to pack up the car and take an extended road trip!!!! The only thing holding me back is the fact that my family would starve and wither while I was gone.

      March, your trip with the girls sounds so amazing. And have to say, that dragon tat is quite impressive! I hope it lasts for weeks!

      • CynthiaW says:

        We should totally go next summer! I’ll show you all the places that the locals go and we’ll only go to the touristy places that are worth it!

  • Olfacta says:

    The tat is fake? Fake? I’m crushed. (For the record, I don’t have one either. I guess I’ve been going to gyms too long, and seeing too many tatts that started out on the, um, rear end and ended up halfway down the leg.)

    I loved Santa Fe, not so much Taos, too much junk art, too touristy. But there is a little town, Chama, that I went to years ago, with my parents, in their motorhome, (I know, I know) about 10 miles below the Colorado border. It was so remote then that there wasn’t even a motel. Now I think there’s some fancy-schmancy lodge there…hmmm…sounds like you had a wonderful time. I miss the desert.

    • March says:

      If you click on my photo you can make it huge. Fake. I just scrubbed it off, I’m too ashamed to wear it to yoga tomorrow.

      No, Chama’s gorgeous! And I do think it’s this:

      Everyone goes there to fish. Flyfish, I think.

    • March says:

      PS I vote calf tattoos as my least favorite. I find them almost always unattractive and randomly placed.

      • Olfacta says:

        Well I’m sure I’m showing my age here but I just don’t get the multiple big tattoo thing. Maybe tattoo removal clinics would be a good investment, because a tattoo placed on, say, the lower back of a nubile 25-year old is going to look quite different after 20 or 30 years. I see a lot of art-kids an they’re all covered with them. Even some faces now.

  • Louise says:

    Oooh, so glad you had such a great time.

    I zip quickly back in my mind to the summer I spent in NM as a grad student. I came very close to not moving to Montreal, so happy was I there. The sights and smells return to me full force, sometimes still in dreams. And the friendliness is just as I grew up with in Oregon-the proper way to treat people. I still can’t adapt to the Eastern chilliness/disconnection.

    As for the tat-well as I chatted on with you, I have a lovely starry henna tat on my tummy and may just take the plunge for a real one-just a tiny star for a start. And a cartiledge piercing…

    Welcome home!

    • March says:

      Let me know what your research turns up! I’ll go with you and cheer you on. And I know you know what I’m talking about, being from Oregon. Of course you are so naturally chatty and charming you can get anyone to talk to you! @};-

      Let’s see if that works…. my emoticons were working and then not.

  • odonata9 says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! I have only driven through it, and stopped very briefly in Las Cruces and Mesilla, on my way from MD (where I’m from) to San Diego (where I live now). We did have an excellent meal there (La Posta?) and I bought a beautiful green amber & silver ring. There is something about the desert, but it’s not for me. I like trees and grass a lot, which I didn’t really realize until I moved to San Diego, which is almost the desert.

    • odonata9 says:

      it being NM, not Santa Fe.

    • March says:

      I’ve never been to San Diego, but I hear it’s gorgeous. Maybe you ate at La Posada? Everything’s La something…. hmmmm. And that color scheme does nothing for some people. They say, it’s all so brown! Which it is. :)>-

  • bella says:

    Thank you so much for your beautiful writing. You have the ability to make the place come alive in my mind and make me want to move there.
    I live in San Francisco and this summer has been extraordinarily cold! Only 53 degrees –without the wind chill factor. I am not joking!!!!
    Anyway, you make me want to leave the city that I have grew up in and move to Santa Fe, NM, for what it seems like an Alice Hoffman novel.

    I also love how you said people confuse NM with Mexico!!! ROTFL!!!:d

    • March says:

      Hehe — someone (Tom?) was complaining about how hot LA was and I said, hey, drive up to San Francisco! That old chestnut by Mark Twain is apparently true… and I am sooo not kidding about the NM/Mexico thing. I’ve argued with online stores about shipping.

  • Gretchen says:

    I love traveling vicariously to Santa Fe with you. Since a great friend moved there in 2005, I’ve visited four times and would love to go even more often. The art, the jewelry, the food. . . (the first two categories challenge my budget, it’s true). Winter is my favorite season there, and last January I realized that Bois de Paradis body cream was a perfect personal fragrance that played beautifully with the ambient aromas.

    Have you taken a lesson at the SF Cooking School? Talk about a great meal– put it on your must-try list.

    • March says:

      Oh, so glad you get to visit regularly! I have a bunch of Santa Fe cookbooks, and have taken one class at the cooking school, but I’ll be honest — the chief joy (mom of 4) of travels like that is I DO NOT HAVE TO COOK. Endless restaurant meals supplemented by veggie sushi and salads, etc.

      Bois de Paradis sounds gorgeous, I’d not thought of that. And I think December in Santa Fe is magic.

  • Tom says:

    I love the desert and one of these days I need to go to Santa Fe. Who knows, maybe I’ll retire there..

    Trader Joe’s in CA do have hard liquor, but I don’t remember it being that great of a selection: more of a convenience.

    People are supposed to stop for pedestrians (and there’s a rightfully huge fine if you get busted and the police do sting operations) but a lot of people don’t. I hate them. :((

    • March says:

      After Paris when I did my single-malt whiskey post, I stumbled across a discussion of whether the stuff with the fancy names at TJs was, in fact, the good stuff. And the answer allegedly is yes. But two-buck chuck is disgusting. [-(

      Weellll, they’re supposed to stop here. The one down the street they literally ARM THE PEDESTRIANS with orange flags you wave while crossing (and praying your ass off) and people STILL hit them! I almost saw a COP get hit there.

      • tmp00 says:

        I’m a Philistine and drink my cheap white wine watered with seltzer. 75% water. With good scotch or whiskey I sip neat and drink spring water in between.

        You know years ago a BFF wanted to give me a walking stick as a birthday gift. I estimated how many times I’d land it into a$$hats headlights who importuned into my crosswalk and talked her out of it.

      • carter says:

        My husband slipped on a section of black ice crossing Columbus Avenue two winters ago and went down like a sack of bricks. The light changed with him lying in the street, unable to get up, and the taxis drove *around* him. Two guys standing on the corner saw this happening and had to go out into the traffic and yell at them to stop so they could get him up and basically carry him out of the middle of the street. Just. Brutal.

        • carter says:

          Oh, neglected to say that he couldn’t get up because he had snapped everything holding his kneecap onto the rest of his leg.

  • Disteza says:

    Another fabulous thing about NM is that it’s a hub of flamenco activity–the National Flamenco Institute is in Santa Fe, and the biggest and most widely respected flamenco festival outside of Spain is held annually in Albuquerque.
    Having only visited eastern New Mexico (whatever was in driving distance of stinky El Paso), I’m already planning my visit to Santa Fe for next summer, though it is admittedly to attend a dance workshop!

    • March says:

      I’ve seen Maria Benitez there a few times, I love flamenco. I went to the Teatro Flamenco twice here but they didn’t come this year. :(

      You will have a great time next summer!

      • Disteza says:

        Lisner puts on an annual flamenco festival, the problem is that it happens in February. If you remember back to the snowy dread of this last Feb., you can imagine the hella hard time we had getting to any of the performances coming from Reston. We literally plowed our way there through a blizzard, and being two of maybe 50 people who showed up, we got some awesome seats!

  • nbh says:

    Hi March,

    Sounds like a great trip; thanks for tellng us about it!

    Also, as a DC native, I must say that I talk to strangers all the time. I can’t remember ever getting an unfriendly response. One difference though is that we all work so damn much here that there is rarely time for long conversations. That really is a shame.

    • March says:

      Oh, I talk all the time too. And some people are used to it. And tourists are low hanging fruit. But I regularly get “fear” (hilarious — I am SO SCARY LOOKING) or general wtf annoyance.

  • Francesca says:

    PS: Love the tat! have to find one of those and freak out my husband.

  • Francesca says:

    So glad you and the girls had a great time. I loved my visit to New Mexico several years ago. So sorry I didn’t buy one of those lovely fitted black jackets covered with embroidery–next time! And yes, the smells are amazing. My friends told me to stick my nose right into the cracks in the bark of the Georgia O’Keeffe tree right outside DH Lawrence’s little casita. Butterscotch! I still have several globs of resin from that tree which I burn every once in a while when I want to smell something wonderful scenting my house.:x

  • Nava says:

    I was wondering where you disappeared to…

    I’m a vicarious fan of NM – the hubs and I were all ready to visit over Christmas a few years ago, until he realized that it’s too cold to play golf there in December! I still hope to make it there one day.

    I love the fake tat; are you still considering the real thing? I am – just haven’t had the time or the guts to go for it yet. That’s a topic for when you return. :x

    • March says:

      There were some seriously beautiful ones in Santa Fe, but there are problems. First: the ones I’m drawn to (the black tribal ones, simple style) are featured on deeply tanned skin, and I’m well aware that the skintone is, for me, part of the beauty. I think it’s too garish on my white skin. Second is, I don’t want one to “have” one. I want a particular can’t-live-without design, and have not found one. I have seen some ugly tats, lemmee tell you.

      • Gretchen says:

        I was one of the ranting “antis” in the comments to your “should I get a tat?” post, but I will say that a temp tat is a great way to go. A good dragon is just the best. But who wants to be stuck wearing the same clothing– or makeup– or perfume, for crap’s sake– for the rest of her life? So, permanent tattoo: lame idea. Okay, my two cents well spent, rant over.

        • March says:

          I bet I could go online and get some great fakes, couldn’t I? Better than the dragon? We were joking we were going to get Zozobra tattoos, only they’d be bad and end up looking like Spongebob.

  • Shelley says:

    ZOMG! I was all ready to sit down to a coming/come home post, but I splarfed my tea ’cause I realized what your basking glory self photo was revealing–a TAT!! Which meant I read twice, because I lost details the first time with my brain saying “blasting burritos Batman, she DID it, and HOW!”


    So now that I don’t have to figure out how I feel about the many-colored 3×6″ dragon on your bicep…yay for a good trip, and welcome home. I am so glad that your stay yielded so much reward, and am also happy in that it-didn’t-have-to-be-but-it’s-nice way that one of your daughters connected with SF. It’s kinda cool…now you’ll have to wait for the big reveal to see where the other one connects, and she will bring that to you one day.

    If that’s a picture of you adding six pounds, you could’ve used those six pounds, as my grandparents used to say. (Well, sort of. You know what I mean.) And now that I’ve returned to where I started, namely, the picture…love the smile. Punk. :) Blissful and playing with life all at once.

    • Shelley says:

      Hey, wait, I got all caught up…and forgot to say…AGH! THE SPEYSIDE!!! I know longer bring up the issue with my poor beleaguered local TJ staff, but oh. Oh, oh. I’m thinking my baggage would be heavier than your 15 tubs of chiles, were I to go…

    • March says:

      Nope, ignore the tat. It’s still there but won’t be for much longer. Cheese was baffled. Hey, at least I didn’t come home with a nose-ring.

      I’m regretting the non-liquor purchase, but I kept thinking about lugging the bags, since I didn’t have the Cheese, and the frozen chile is fairly heavy. It started with an L… one of them.

      There are tattoo parlors all over btw. Diva’s dying for one. Mom says no. In every language.

  • Marsha says:

    March! Nice to have you back! Your trip sounds wonderful. It’s nice that you can travel with your girls and have fun. I can just imagine the smells, with the clear air and no humidity.

  • Tiara says:

    So glad your girls enjoyed the trip-always a crapshoot with teenagers but it sounds like Sante Fe worked its magic on them.

    Had to laugh when I saw the Plaza Cafe link. My mother-in-law refused to eat there. While she wasn’t a snob by any stretch, she wanted something more “upscale” and less touristy if she was going to dine in Santa Fe. Those vinyl booths and diner like feel just didn’t do it for her. Her favorite spot was a small restaurant, the name of which escapes me these days, that was attached to one of the hotels. Didn’t do much for any of us but it made her happy.

    On the weekends, do the jewelry makers still set up around the Plaza and Palace of the Governors?

    • March says:

      Oh, my MIL would not have been caught dead there. There are lots of fancy places to eat — Casa Sena, Santa Cafe, Geronimo, plenty of others. Diners were not her style. TBH we only went for breakfast, but I found myself down there one night and ordered the chicken enchiladas. Excellent. I mean, among the best I’ve had. I was surprised.

      And of course!!!! The buying of the jewelry under the portal. Enigma and I both did that. Mine is a silver stamped pendant with a rainstorm on it, seen from a distance, on a leather cord.

      • Gretchen says:

        The Plaza cafe isn’t touristy, it’s old-style homey local! I eat there at least once every time I visit.

        • March says:

          The breakfast was excellent, and this time (!) they had watermelon juice, which excites me so much it’s funny. I really need to get a juicer.

  • karin says:

    March – just for you – :)

    • March says:

      I know! Isn’t it awesome! When we run out that’s what we do, if nobody’s visiting… I wish I had a bigger darn freezer, Kate has a stand-alone. The problem with the shipping is they have to cryo-pak it so it’s $50 extra, plus they charge an east coast surcharge, which I think brings it closer to $75 shipping (not sure). I just jam those babies in my checked luggage! You should have seen me right after 9/11. Security dude in ABQ: “What’s in the box?”
      Me: “Uh, 18 tubs of green chile?”
      Him: “Oh, okay.”
      I mean, they get it.

      • karin says:

        BTW – I visited Santa Fe in 2002. Friend and I were abandoning our lives in the SF Bay area, visiting various cities, trying to decide where to live. LOVED IT!!!! Love the desert, the Indian culture, the art, the FOOD. OMG. I crave that food. Went again a couple of years ago to Taos. Not as compelling as Santa Fe IMO, but interesting. I still dream about the tamale pie I had at Graham’s Grille. Best meal ever. That masa. OH THE MASA!!! Here’s a pic (not mine) – makes my mouth water just thinking about it:

        Needless to say, Santa Fe didn’t make the cut. I ended up in Portland, Maine (my friend ended up in Sedona), met my husband (a Mainer) here, and now I’m stuck in Maine – ha ha – really, I love it here…but do dream of New Mexico…

        • March says:

          Hehe. I think Taos is a dump but I can’t say that on here or they will pull my NM card.

          Also, humorously, there is a definite Portland ME/Santa Fe connection. I know a number of people who have moved back and forth between them. Loooooooooove the food so much, but in Portland ME too!

          • Gretchen says:

            Oh, but the drives– the scenery– around Taos and between Taos and SFe are astoundingly beautiful. Not that that isn’t true of Northern New Mexico in general, but still. Plus more great food.

          • March says:

            That’s true. Any excuse to eat more is welcome.

      • karin says:

        Oh and SO FUNNY about that chile!!! But I TOTALLY get it! That stuff is incredible. Oh geez. Now I want to plan a trip.

        • March says:

          I thaw the container partially, fill one ice-cube tray (perfect fit), refreeze them in cubes and can then thaw them one at a time for single-servings (my kids won’t eat it.) Burgers, omelets, whatever.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    We went to Santa Fe 2 years ago and just loved it! The art, especially, was sensational. Stayed at the Inn of Five Graces which was wonderful. Mind you, the drive from Albuquerque airport was exceptionally dull……

    Thank you for your beautifully-written (as always) piece and glad the offspring loved the trip, too.

    • March says:

      The drive IS dull, but very quick at 80 – 85 mph….. I love me some 75mph speed limit. So next time go the scenic route, HWY 40 to 14. Doesn’t take that much longer and you go through old towns that could be in a western movie.

      And I hope to go back soon!

  • Lee says:

    Multiple sighages.

  • carter says:

    I have only been to Arizona and Colorado — never to New Mexico — but I imagine that the light is similar, and that is what I found to be the most remarkable thing about the southwest. I went up in a hot air balloon over the desert and we watched the animals all drinking at the dam, and it was something else, but the light was the thing. And the colors. And the smell. And the FOOD. But mostly the light.

    And then I scurry back home to the opposite of wide open spaces and pushy New Yawkers and feel safe again. Everyone being so nice made me really, really nervous. When I got back to town and someone stole my cab I knew I was back on solid ground and my breathing became regular again.

    • March says:

      The light! Yes! Why there are so many painters…. and the smells and the food, for sure. When we first moved there we lived out of town, and often the *only* sound we heard was the gas burners as the random hot air balloon would drift overhead. Their big ABQ balloon fiesta is in October.

      Hee on safe ground. I have to go shopping this morning. Gritting my teeth.

    • Aparatchick says:

      Carter, the Pacific NW drove Mr. Aparatchick – a native New Yorker – crazy. “Why do they have to be so damn friendly all the time.” He’s always happier where people don’t make eye contact. :-?

      March, you are not “the whitest person,” you have alabaster skin. That’s what my grandma told me all those years ago when the other kids laughed at me, and that’s what I’m sticking with.

      • carter says:

        It tends to make us paranoid and defensive types — which would be, like, the entire population of NYC — suspicious of their motives. Plus it’s annoying.

  • tammy says:

    You look like a 16 year old yourself, certainly not old enough to have one of your own!

    The magic of Santa Fe has always alluded me somewhat; I think the southwestern aesthetic overall just isn’t my thing. But the food, the folks, and the scents certainly are amazing, and I always enjoy our stays there. Have you ever been to High Country Gardens?

    I need to hunt down that cake o’ beeswax goodness you bought.

    • March says:

      I hear you. Every year I was confronted with bemused tourists who kept going, what’s the point? It’s either your thing or it … isn’t. The color scheme is different, for sure, and everything’s lumpy. But that food! (I was also fascinated by people, again, who never checked the WEATHER and showed up at Christmas break in their shorts, again like Phoenix.)

      The beeswax cake is for dry, cracked heels etc. They have several scents.

  • Joe says:

    I’m gonna cry. Seriously. Not only because I love the place, but because I had a great trip there many years ago with The One Who Got Away (more like The One Who I-In-A-Phase-of-Idiocy Chased Away).

    Santa Fe is one of those few places that I felt I could happily live. I’m realizing I’ve only been there twice, I think, both times during Fiesta, but it feels like more than that (know how that is?). Both times road trips, one including an overnight to Taos (via Chimayo).

    Lordy, I’m sad now — but it’s terrific hearing about your great time, and sharing it with the two kids. I haven’t heard about Ten Thousand Waves, but please tell me you’ve been up to Ojo Caliente, yes?

    Magical. Magical. There is no better way for me to describe the place. I really need to make an effor to do an Amtrak trip out there sometime in the next nine months. Thank you for this! I hadn’t realized that’s where you were (I’ve been sporadically reading).

    • March says:

      Oh! During FIESTAS!!!! My favorite time of year!!! ZOZOBRA!!! The desfile de los ninos! (Pet parade). We did it every year. Plus wandering around screaming !viva las Fiestas!!

      And we did Chimayo (sacred dirt sitting right here) and of course we did Ojo, although not this time. Jemez has some great springs as well. PS There’s a train now from ABQ to Santa Fe, just for tourists.

  • Dina C says:

    Marvelous travelogue, March. The only bit of the Southwest I’ve been to so far is in Arizona: Sedona, Phoenix, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon. Sedona was the best. Now I’d love to see Santa Fe. Loved your descriptions of the food, the drinks, the smells….so glad you had a good trip with your girls. Welcome home!

    • March says:

      Weeell, if you liked Sedona, you’d love Santa Fe! It’s too groovy for some people. And I gained 6 lbs., actually!

  • violetnoir says:

    So happy you and your people had a great time, babe! SF is awesome.

    Loving the tatt on your arm, too.


  • Divalano says:

    I. So. Want. To go. Have wanted to forever. If we don’t spend all our life savings on this ha-ha you live in NYC whateverwereyouthinking about budget, low budget wedding, I want to honeymoon there. I will start putting the thought out in the ‘verse. April. Santa Fe. Me & my honey.

    Now about that honeycake stuff. Does it smell like beeswax & what, you like, rub it on? Because if yes, yum!

    Santa Fe man, think of the photos I could take if I lived there! Oh wait, was that my outside voice? Sorry …

    • March says:

      Well, I’m totally biased, but I think you should go. It’s not like anywhere else, for sure, although I would NOT recommend April. April is an awful month there — cold and windy. May through early November are gorgeous, and the winter’s nice if you like winter. :)
      March – April? Not so much.

      It smells like beeswax and honey. Haven’t tried tainting it with majmua yet.

      The photos you would take there would be amaaaaaaaaazing. I’ll try to post some more of ours, it was late last night when we got home, but I’m sure there’s millions on flickr.

      • Divalano says:

        OK, so honeymoon will not be excuse for spending money on a trip there. Too bad because we kinda never go anyplace where we don’t know people & getting us there will take a real Reason for spending hotel money. Still want to get there, though.

        Yes, please post the photos … so I’ll be all the more envious …/:)