November 4 – 6
If you live in Asheville, you hear about Taos the same way you hear about Sedona and Portland. They’re the other Ashevilles, the cities that Ashevillains move to or from, the cities that maybe. . just maybe. . if things were a little different. . . They’re cities of ultimate possibility, just like all sunglasses (but most particularly sunglasses from the dollar store) are sunglasses of ultimate beauty. So I never thought I would like any of them. Well, maybe Portland.
Damn if I don’t like Taos more than a little. I feel about Taos the same way I might feel about a guy that a friend of mine has been telling me for ages I ought to meet who I finally went out with: begrudging yet alarmingly serious attraction. I don’t want to like this town. I don’t want to be yet another hippie chick from the East who falls in love with Taos. I certainly wasn’t looking at Zillow last night for houses in my price range, oh no, not me, I am already kind of in the process of divorcing a poor, scenic, artsy, tourist trap of a city. I don’t need to fall for another one.
But OH MY GOD TAOS you are making it hard not to love you.
The West is kind of knocking me over flat with its beauty. The light, good gods, the light is stuck in a state of perpetual dialed up saturation. In the East we only get light like this just before or after or sometimes during a thunderstorm. Here in northern New Mexico, it seems to just be like this all the time. And I have timed this trip right. Taos, which I can see is a complete and total tourist trap of the hippie/arts variety and thus usually packed to the gills, is empty right now. I mean I went walking up to the Plaza from my odd, dilapidated yet amazingly situated and somehow almost charming motel (I am taking comfort in believing that the mice probably ate all the bedbugs) last night and the streets were eerily deserted. It was a Saturday night at like 6:30 yet the shops were closed, the streetlights were flickering and I actually got a little paranoid about walking around by myself. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the main drag is being redone and so there are no lines of any kind anywhere on the pavement and, jesus Taos, get it together, nowhere to cross the street.
In other words it reminds me of Asheville circa 1998. Uh oh.
Last night I went out to dinner at Bellas and had a margarita and chiles rellenos which were delicious and, as is apparently New Mexico law, smothered in chile. Red chile, which the New Mexicans say is less hot than green: they offer both and sometimes Christmas – red AND green – at every meal. I had a breakfast burrito in Albuquerque with green chile and it about killed me, so I guess they’re right about the heat levels. The red chile is only half killing me. For breakfast this morning I went with red chile on my hashbrowns and eggs. The food has been amazing. Tears come to my eyes, my nose runs, I almost choke but I can’t stop eating. The restaurant prices are averaging a little cheaper than Asheville (the real estate, not that I was looking, oh no, not me, was about the same) and the setting?
Well. This morning I went out a mile or so to Taos Pueblo, which is a Native American village that has been continuously inhabited for a thousand years or more. They have about half of it open to tourists and it is just incredibly beautiful. The people are all super nice; there are galleries of work by immensely talented artist families and I had a wonderful time. I chatted. I drank coffee. I bought some small small art. And I took pictures of crows and drop dead gorgeous architecture and the dogs who happily roam free through the pueblo. I was going to spend the rest of the day at any one of the multiple art museums or galleries but I decided instead to go out about 15 miles to see the Earthships . And, damn, they were amazing too, even though I skipped the visitor center and thus there is not a lot you can see, although I hear you can stay in some of them. It doesn’t matter because they are just so cool they dragged the remnants of my hopeful Asheville hippie heart out of its blackened shell and made me think the universe might end up okay after all. I drove back towards Taos and stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and, well, just, whoa. So I will let you judge the setting yourself.
Tomorrow I’m driving back to Albuquerque, picking up Amelia – all fixed! Yay! Or at least I hope so! – and then turning around and going to Santa Fe. I’ll be there for a week. It’s not far from Taos. I might. . I might just have to come back to Taos.