We took the Turquoise Trail (Highway 14) from Albuquerque to Santa Fe yesterday, stopping in Madrid (a raffish collection of old miners’ shacks fixed up by craftspeople) and Cerillos where the turquoise is mined. I’d hoped to find a real prize, a necklace of wild originality, but instead found myself buying quite a modest choker from the Santo Domingo Pueblo. And we had lunch in Madrid, at a funky place with a dusty patio under trees. Birds were nesting right in the trees, soft grey ones with pale yellow breasts. What kind of birds are those, I asked our waitress, a tall beauty in cowboy boots. Oh, just google birds of New Mexico, was her offhand reply.
In Santa Fe we bought the museum pass and spent the morning in the Museum of Art and the History Museum. Such riches. I liked best the Agnes Martin in the former — a big canvas with horizontal bands of soft colour, like sky or wind. And an exhibit of the photographs of Joan Meyers — landscapes, big and wild, with small signs of human influence. The beautiful courtyard was loud with birdsong and we could see finches darting in and out of nesting sites among the beams. I asked the security guard if they were purple finches or rosy finches. (I’m not a birder but I like to get things right.) They come in all colours, was his solemn reply. So that was a relief!
The Palace of the Governors, part of the History Museum, is the nation’s oldest government building. It’s low and cool and at home on the plaza it overlooks. We met Tom Leech, the printer who runs the Press at the Palace of the Governors, and his work is glorious. We bought many broadsheets and arranged to have them mailed to us at home.
p.s. I am using a little (slow) Netbook on this trip and sometimes paragraphs mysteriously disappear. I wrote about Santa Fe, its buildings and restaurants and galleries filled with fetishes, sculpture, kachinas, jewelry so beautiful and so expensive that you have to wonder who’s buying it, but, poof, that bit disappeared. So you’ll just have to imagine…