I've been in New Mexico for 27 hours and Santa Fe 26 hours so far. I couldn't be happier. So far, I have taken three rolls of pictures, written a few pages in my journal, slept, but mostly wandered. Outside of Italy, I had the best cappuccino of my life yesterday at a coffee shop on the plaza (shhh...don't tell the people I work for), and for lunch today I had an unbelievably delicious enchilada with green chile sauce and a warm sopapilla with honey. I've talked to dozens of people. That's one of the cool things about traveling solo: personally, I'm more likely to strike up conversations with strangers than when I travel with someone else or when I'm at home. So far I have yet to meet anyone who grew up in this area; everyone I've talked to moved here from elsewhere. One is from St. Louis; another from Columbus; and yet another from Denver. All of them said they never planned on living here, but at some point they travelled here and then never wanted to leave. So they didn't. On the other hand, I have only had the opportunity to chat with european-americans so far. Not on purpose, of course...as anyone reading this should know by now I'm not like that. New Mexico has such an awesome conglomeration of cultures: European (mainly Spanish), Mexican, and Native American. Not only does this add up to the most amazing food in the world, but this also creates an eclectic atmosphere unmatched anywhere in the world I have been thus far.
The natural surroundings are so gorgeous, I almost want to cry. Really, there are no adequate adjectives for it. Mountains with clusters of sage and patches of snow. Red desert clay. Clean dry air (which is partly why I now have a sore throat and am sucking on lozenges constantly).
After wandering around Santa Fe for a couple hours this morning, I drove south along the Turquoise Trail to a town called Madrid. I stayed there for a couple days when I was last here. It's the most bizarrely charming little place. Nestled between a couple mountains along the Turquoise Trail, it was once a mining town during the 19th century. Then it died and was a ghost town. And then sometime during the late-middle 20th century it was revived as an artists' colony. Truly one of a kind. So I drove down there today and spent a few hours wandering, talking to people, taking pictures, and having coffee at Java Junction, where I actually stayed overnight years ago when I was last here.
And on my way back to Santa Fe, I saw a coyote! I was on this small desert/mountain road when a grey/tan/white coyote darted out in front of the car. It was so cute and looked extremely alert. It looked both ways before crossing the road, stopped briefly on the other side, and then disappeared into a field. I wish I had gotten a picture, but it happened so fast, and the coyote was gone in a flash.
Now, I'm back at the hotel briefly...long enough for another dose of Dayquil (yes, I am fighting off a cold in addition to the dry-air induced sore throat). Then, I'm not sure what the evening has in store for me, but I'm going to make sure it's interesting.
I love it here.