Established in 1610, Santa Fe is a mixture of traditional Indian Puebloan style and grand Spanish architecture with a dash of French design. It is vibrant, eclectic and buzzing, yet at the same time laid-back and peaceful. I believe that my pictures say a lot more than I can, so I'll spare you my inadequate description of the city and let you see for yourself what it is like.
We stopped at the grocery store to pick up something for dinner and when we emerged we noticed a small number of people setting up chairs on the roadside
. Intrigued, we questioned an older gentleman and were informed that we were about to be treated to the procession of the Fiesta de Santa Fe. This annual parade that we fortunately stumbled upon (but unfortunately we had with us raw meat and a bag of ice on a hot Southwestern day) fulfills a promise made in 1691 by Don Diego de Vargas, the conquistador who bloodlessly reclaimed Santa Fe from the Indians who had evicted the Spaniards 12 years earlier. A deeply religious man, Vargas credited the bloodless reconquest to the Virgin Mary and announced her the sovereign queen of the territory, at the same time promising an annual celebration in her honor. In the procession, priests lovingly carry La Conquistadora, the oldest statue of the Virgin Mary in the US. She was carved in Spain sometime in the early 1600s, and brought to Santa Fe in 1625. Having survived the Indian sacking of Santa Fe only because she was carried away by the fleeing Spaniards, she was returned by Vargas and placed in a small chapel in what is now the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. She remains there to this day, ready to be pulled out each Spring for her grand celebration.
On our way to the oldest state capital in the US, we turned off the highway onto a quiet old dirt road that led up a steep hill. We found ourselves in the old Spanish town of Abiquiu, which you may recognize as the backdrops for the movies Wyatt Earp and City Slickers. Aside from a charming old church and a handful of friendly locals, there wasn't much in the town.