From Dismay to Enchantment

I’m sorry, I really don’t want to diss Las Vegas, but I’m going to have to.  Disappointing, disconcerting, dismaying.  About 15 years ago, we had stopped in Las Vegas for one night, on our way home from a wonderful motorcycle trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion parks. We saw a show, walked the strip, and decided “been there, done that, no need to come back.”  For various reasons, we needed to stay in Las Vegas for 2 weeks on this journey, and we had been looking forward to the glitz, to people watching, to trying new restaurants. We tried, we really did.

SeaLife DC1400

We went out, but the neon was a sad contrast to people begging along the strip. The casino visitors didn’t appear to be enjoying themselves, as they mindlessly fed coins into the slots. Young and old, they wandered the casinos, sitting at tables or machines, drinking in bars. Not too many smiling faces. It just doesn’t seem like a happy place to me. Sorry Las Vegas, I was happy to leave.

We drove out of town, and as we crossed the state line into Arizona, we looked forward to staying in Sedona. The drive down Highway 89A from Flagstaff was beautiful. Forest scenery giving way to amazingly shaped red rock formations, along the creekside. And there is the town of Sedona. Tourist-y to be sure, but real people live and work here too. Sedona is visually stunning, quirky, interesting. Good food, friendly people, and of course the vortexes. We had a wonderful week’s stay in Sedona, enjoying the hiking amongst the amazing red rocks.

Sedona Sedona

We left Sedona and drove east and up into the high country around Santa Fe.

Santa Fe has artists, lots of them, and the town reflects that. Softly rounded edges on the adobe houses, earth colours blending into the landscape. We’re in New Mexico, Land of Enchantment. And it is enchanting.  The singing waiter in Tia Sophia’s restaurant, who smiled and applauded when I sang Auld Lang Syne to him. The manager at La Fonda hotel lounge restaurant, who refused to let us pay the bill when I was severely affected by the altitude on New Year’s Eve. Friendly people.

Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe Santa Fe

On Kings’ Day (6 January) the wonderfully hospitable artist we were staying with took us to the Pueblo of Santo Domingo, to see the traditional dancing, which is usually open to the public. We drove into the pueblo, and saw men gathered around the church, and women in traditional clothing carrying huge pots of food to open fires outside the homes. The enticing scents of red and green chile lured us in. We parked near the church and walked around a little. The ladies stirring the pots called us over, “come, come and eat, there’s plenty of food!” We stood and chatted with them for a while, trying to find out, without being too intrusive, if there would be dancing today. “Maybe, who knows” came the reply. “But come and eat, all the new councilmen and elders of the Pueblo are here. I’ll say you’re my friends, you can go in!”  With smiles and many thanks, we decided we really shouldn’t intrude.  As well as celebrating the Epiphany, this was the day the new council was sworn in.

We walked on, and entered the church. Beautifully painted on the outside, simple and cool inside. We were politely asked not to take photos, but we made a donation and bought a photo print of the church. The smiling newly-elected  lieutenant governor of Santo Domingo Pueblo came in the church and welcomed us with a handshake, and when we said we had been hoping to see some dancing, with a twinkle in his eye, he said he was too. 🙂

Pueblo Santo Domingo

After a while we decided to leave, as although everyone in Santo Domingo was very friendly and hospitable, it was clear that whatever was, or wasn’t happening, they preferred to keep it private, and that’s ok. 🙂

New Mexico is many things, and we certainly found it enchanting.

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