Santa Fe Smells

Hola, amigos — I am still in Santa Fe doing a lot of eati- shopp- hard work and I’m lacking regular computer access, so this will be a quickie.

 First off, in case the suspense was killing you, Fanta Se is still fantastic, and I harbor weird fantasies about moving back here and wearing the same three flax skirts to meditation every day… or, wait, maybe the cute peasant blouse?  With the concha belt and the boots?  Did I mention the boots?  Did I mention the fabulous consignment stores?  Als0, I am living on green chile chicken enchiladas and Rolaids.  Did I mention the margaritas?  The massage at Ten Thousand Waves?  If you visit, definitely stop by the Waves…

Okay, so, perfume.  (btw Santa Fe still smells amazing, and it’s monsoon season here so everything smells just that much better after the rain.)  To me, the default fragrance smell of Santa Fe is Cedar Mountain (hope that link works) which was the Santa Fe smell for a long time, this line being the product you were likely to get rubbed down with at the Waves and elsewhere.  You mix the oil in the bottle with water and spray … well, wherever (closet, your person, the air).  One whiff brings me right back here.  The Waves has moved on to some hinoki and yuzu products, both of which are practically the new lychee/pink pepper, but today’s find is … the Indian Champa body products from There, which if I am reading the packaging correctly is, believe it or not, the house brand of Cost Plus World Market, which they have here and I love.  Anyhoo, there are other less interesting scents — oh, wait, here’s the link — the cherry blossom, lotus etc. are just fine.  But this!  Here’s their blurbage: “inspired by the delicate Golden Champa flower, which possesses a rich, ethereal scent that is prized by the people of India…. it is often placed near temples and ashrams… ” there’s a bar soap, liquid soap, bath scrub, lotion, and shower gel listed on their website, and I got the body oil in the store.

When I have more time and a better computer I’m going to investigate the champa/champaca connection, specifically whether we’re talking about the same thing and whether they’re magnolia, plumeria or something else entirely.  In the meantime, let me say this smells a lot like Ormonde Jayne Champaca, which I love, with two main differences — 1) The World Market Champa is, unsurprisingly, less sophisticated (although lovely) and 2) it costs eight bucks or thereabouts and is available stateside, and apparently online.

I put some of the body oil on this morning after my shower and it’s still going strong late this afternoon.  The great thing about the champa smell is: it smells like an incense flower, halfway in between.  I am pretty sure they use it to make nag champa incense, but it’s not like that; there’s no smoky aspect.  I’m thrashing around here because it’s like trying to describe the smell of a gardenia.  I mean, there’s just nothing like it.   It makes me think of the flower necklaces at the shrines in Thailand.  It’s powerful and meditative and unsweet and haunting.

In sum: here are two interesting, reasonably-priced things to try while you’re saving up for Nombre Noir or one of those giant Chanel bottles.

I’ll probably be checking in here later today if I can weasel back onto a computer.   If not, take care and I will see you Weds.

photos: Ten Thousand Waves, inside and out

  • March the Zen says:

    I’ve sniffed a ton of Nag Champa incense in the last couple of days, just for grins, and it smells so different than the flower as I find it represented in fragrance… although the incense is nice too. But I am partial to those dopey little Santa fe kiva incense dealies you get at Jackalope. :”>

    Ten Thousand Waves in the snow is about as good as it gets.

  • Robin says:

    I am so glad it is living up to your hopes, M!

    • March says:

      It is, although I look forward to answering your question after further consideration. It is not “home” and things are different, and in an odd way I am comforted with the realization that I believe we made the right choice in leaving for various reasons. But I am grateful to be able to return as a visitor and find a joyous experience, even if not the “same” experience. :)>-

  • moi says:

    Aw, even though we “working” New Mexicans love to make fun of Fantasay, we acknowledge in our hearts that it is, indeed, a beautiful and special place. Glad you’re enjoying your trip and you rock for knowing that chile is spelled with an “e.” Word.

    • March says:

      I have to do some good-natured teasing, right? But there are all the bits I love — starting with how nice people are here in NM in general. I have to dial up the friendliness and back the aggression… I had a beautiful massage last night from a man with the most extraordinarily lovely feet. Just a happy detail. If I eat any more green chile I’m going to explode. (And yes — chili with an “i” is a different animal, and I am always surprised how often I see Sante Fe, what’s up with that?)

      PS I’m bringing a case of Bueno harvest roasted home with me, if all goes according to plan…. /:)

  • Patty says:

    Have I mentioned how much I want a good massage? Waves sounds great. Have fun!

    • March says:

      I got the most AMAZING massage last night at the former grocery store, now turned groovy retail/restaurant/bodywork outlet. I’m going to do a longer post at some point but the sensualist part of Santa Fe really works for me. 😡

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi, March.

    I am so glad that you are back in the landscape you love. I was in Santa Fe only once, more than 30 years ago. I was taking a year off from college and traveling cross country. After many dry, dusty miles through Oklahoma and North Texas, I was so glad to see trees again in New Mexico. After all these years. I can still remember how they looked and smelled, especially the pine trees that were similar to but at the same time very different from the pines I’d known in New England. The tastes in New Mexico were a revelation to me, too. I’d never eaten pinon nuts before, and the only chiles I’d ever tasted were stale supermarket blends, the saddest imitations of the vibrant flavors I found in New Mexico.

    I I stopped for an hour at a cafe in Taos where they seemed to recognize me as a kindred spirit, or at least as someone who really liked good food. Pretty much out of the blue, they offered me a job as a waitress and a place to stay. I was tempted but kept on traveling to the Pacific, which I’d never seen before, and stayed on for a while in Northern California, where I never felt at home. I’ve thought of that road not taken several times over the years, and wondered how my life would have been different had I stayed in Taos instead of moving on. One of life’s lessons learned the hard way: recognizing the right places to stop. But at least I’ve always eaten good chiles and pine nuts since then.

    Back in my native landscape, the one that has remained under my skin, my daughter and I did quite a bit of traveling about in Maine last week, from the hills of central Maine to Blue Hill Bay and Cape Rosier on the coast, to the chain of lakes up north that marks the border between Maine and Canada. Thanks to your post about your trip to Maine last month. I remembered to make a stop at the Bagaduce Lunch, where I hadn’t been for some years. It’s still just as good as it always has been. We were there on one of those beautiful, sparkling days that Mainers often describe as “the finest kind of day.”

    A side trip across the border to Canada to buy some tea took us past a duty free shop, where we bought some bargain perfume–J’Adore for my daughter and a new bottle of Joy for me. We’ll wear those for certain anonymously formal occasions in the city, when we have to be back there again. But for the scent of Maine, strangely it’s Italian perfumes that seem to capture the feeling best for me–Profumum’s Olibanum for the forests, and Acqua di Sale for the coast. I would never have known about either were it not for this blog.

    The Ormande Champaca you brought to New Mexico always makes me think of watching Chinese elders practicing tai chi early in the morning on the playgrounds of the Josiah Quincy school in Boston’s Chinatown. Maybe it’s the basmati rice note as well as the champaca that brings that to mind. The otherwise extremely rational principal of that school told me that he had heard of cases of tai chi resulting in gray hair turning back to black, so maybe that’s another subliminally connected, delightful notion that makes me love that perfume, too. Champaca helps me feel calm and centered, not always easily achievable attributes for me.

    Have a safe journey back.

    • March says:

      Oh, what wonderful stories! I love your Champaca association (and I wish it were true, do you think my gray hair would go away? sigh, and that’s an inspired burst of irrationality)

      If I lived near the Bagaduce lunch I would have no money and be twice as big as I am now. It sounds like you had a fantastic trip, with just the right sorts of memories in the making. :)>-

  • rosarita says:

    I’m glad you’re having such a great time. 🙂 The products from There sound like they’d be right up my alley, and when I checked the store locater I found a Cost Plus World Mkt. is in the city where my daughter lives, not so very far from here. Yay!

    • March says:

      Well, happy hunting. I think they are cool stores. They also have all sorts of fun snacky treats from various places, and I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. Really, really loving the Champa, I can smell it on my arm.

  • Shelley says:

    Yay, the Waves! I’ve only heard of that place, but every report I’ve heard involves a sudden relaxing of the reporter’s face & body, followed by a dreamy voice…. So glad you’re having this experience!

    I have a cute little nag champa solid, in a carved wooden pillbox sized round. It smells good, a little retro, a little forward, not complicated, definitely comforting.

    Let’s see…Chicago has Cost Plus and A Thousand Waves (not ten thousand, just one)…add in a lot of Chicocoa Scentsation (and one of those giant Chanel exclusifs), and life that weekend should be good!

    • March says:

      I am so looking forward to Chicago! We’ll do another announcement when I get back and get it together.

      I went to the community tub once at the Waves and failed to see the black ice next to the tub and went in @ss over teakettle… agh, the shame! 🙂

  • Louise says:

    Ah, March, it sounds like you’re having a fabulous time. Maybe even better than the Cheese is having in this 97 degree ozone swamp with the 4 bairns 🙂

    The Champa sounds wonderful, a great massage even better!

    • March says:

      I hear things at home are a little dicey and they are waiting for my return, if for no other reason than we are out of groceries. [-(

      • Louise says:

        Even though you are sorely missed, I encourage you to stay on a bit. Give Diva the number for Peapod grocery delivery /:)

  • minette says:

    ah, ten thousand waves, my favorite! i went there one april and it snowed – so i got to sit in one of the open-air hot tubs under snow-laden branches. i kept getting up to eat the snow! and the massages are great there. love the place. and i still have a cedar sachet from there. used to have the cedar lotions you talk about, but they’re long gone.

    though i smelled that smell recently in one of the red flower oils – gaiac, i believe. i couldn’t place it at first – all i could think of was it smelled like austin and hippies i knew there, but then it clicked – it was the smell from ten thousand waves.

    i keep holding out for santa clara pueblo to reopen, but i do need to make a trip to santa fe. it’s where i used to go to clear my head and figure out my next moves.

    the champa sounds wonderful. i keep hoping to find an oil that smells like nag champa incense but haven’t yet. maybe this one would.

    enjoy the fabulous light and smells for me!

  • sylvia says:

    i looked up champaca and wikipedia came up with a picture and i realized, we have one of these in my backyard and lemme tell you, it smells damn good! ill have to check out the cost plus stuff. every time i go, theres something else cooler than the last time. have a great rest of trip!

    • sylvia says:

      ps: looks as if champaca is different from champa which is a form of plumeria. wikipedia told me so.

      • March the Groovy says:

        I keep getting conflicting information about what they are made out of — I promise to spend some more time when I get back (everyone’s an authority on the internet, and I am sure it SHOCKS you that the info is inconsistent) 😉