We stayed in downtown Santa Fe, just two blocks from the green, shady, totally inviting central plaza. Say what you will about the Spanish, they definitely knew how to plan towns.
Xingxing loved Santa Fe -- after all those white sands and little green aliens, he was happy to be back where there were things like sidewalks, grass, trees and doggy smells. Especially the latter. As everyone who is owned by a dog knows, finding just the right spot is vital when a dog needs to do what dogs gotta do. And few dogs want to be the first to go where no dog has gone before. This proved to be a bit of a problem at the White Sands Monument.
But we saw lots of dogs in Santa Fe, which is a very dog friendly town. And where there are dogs there is an abundance of tempting spots -- in the course of a single block, Xingxing stopped and lifted his leg no less than twelve times, letting everyone know he had come to town. Someone wrote that dogs write their history in urine. Xingxing certainly does.
Santa Fe is actually a city, but it feels like a town because there are hardly any buildings over two stories high -- which is delightful, really. The architecture is Southwest adobe, the colors sunburnt browns and pinks, the population easy-going and relaxed. Artistic souls are drawn to the ambience, and the local art scene is purely incredible. So are the shops. You can buy things here you wouldn't see anywhere else in the world.
Shopping is fine with Xingxing, so long as he can ride in his stroller. In fact, just about anything is fine with Xingxing when he's in his stroller. So instead of spending all our money in the Dinosaur Shop, we left Christopher there haggling over a chunk of meteorite on a chain and headed for the newly-opened History Museum of New Mexico.
This three-dimensional, multi-media presentation is not to be missed -- suffice it to say, museums have come a long way since I was a girl! Touch screens, video commentary, interactives and a simply breathtaking 17-minute film in the Manifest Destiny section combine to make a visit to this museum a feast for the ear, eye and mind. From the talking petroglyphs to the Pueblo Revolt to the Harvey Girls to the "secret city" of Los Alamos -- what a trip!
My favorite was the room that featured a full-size covered wagon -- the kind the settlers used, coming West -- and a series of voice-overs taken from settlers' actual words. One woman said, After weeks of travel, we arrive at a city of mud. Everything is mud. The streets are mud. The houses are mud. The walls are mud. Everything is mud. There is nothing here but mud.
She meant adobe, of course. But you can sympathize.
We met up with Christopher and had lunch in a courtyard restaurant and bought stuff, and wandered around some more. I found a bronze statue of a dancing Ganesh, something I have always wanted. I saw one once, years ago. But it was expensive and I hesitated for several days and by the time I made up my mind to buy it and went back to the store, it was gone. You see images of Ganesh standing on one leg, and sitting, but rarely dancing. Wouldn't you know I'd find it in Santa Fe? And before we left for Albuquerque, we went back to the Dinosaur Shop and I bought a Tibetan singing bowl. I have also always wanted a Tibetan singing bowl.
And we had to get this shot of Xingxing and me in front of the skeleton of a prehistoric cave bear. I mean, how often do we get to pose with a cave bear?