Discovery in the Land of Enchantment
Enchantment is such a full word, the feeling of great pleasure and delight. Perhaps that is why I am drawn back to New Mexico, again and again, wanting to discover and re-discover enchantment; to me it comes from many facets, all illuminated by the intense southwestern light.
The first overarching allure is the big New Mexico sky. Most days, the sky pulses with a concentrated blue. I try to mix cerulean and cobalt blue to sketch the sky, but that doesn’t quite illustrate the color I see overhead. Of course, there is a range of sky colors in each daily cycle, merging from deep purple to rose, a flash of orange and yellow at sunrise. Then the pulsating blue all-day-long, or perhaps a short stormy gray, cycling back to the inspiring colors of sunset and finally dark skies punctuated by millions of bright stars overhead.
The big blue-sky contrasts with orange, ochre, and rosy-colored earth. There are deep red hillsides dotted with dark green pinyon pine and juniper trees and the blue flash of a pinyon jay in search of its namesake’s hard round nuts. Multi-colored, layered rock canyons carved by the mighty Rio Grande River are enigmatic sculptures. Blue and purple mountains are hazy in the atmospheric distance. These landscapes beckon me.
Mystery Meets History in New Mexico
Ancient remains of buildings fit into the landscape, made of the same earth. There is mystery and awe surrounding the individual people who lived a thousand or more years ago, collectively known as the ancient Puebloans. Their cities, inhabited long ago, are remote and faraway even by today’s standards; Now merging with nature, it is possible to explore and revere the age-old architectural relics.
They used stone chisels to carve symbols and images through the dark rock patina along canyons, exposing lighter rock below. Known as petroglyphs, these carvings exude spirituality, creativity, and culture. The National Park Service says, “Today's native people have stated that the placement of each petroglyph image was not a casual or random decision. Some petroglyphs have meanings that are only known to the individuals who made them. Others represent tribal, clan, kiva or society markers. Some are religious entities and others show who came to the area and where they went.” Witnessing actual stone carvings in New Mexico sparks a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for the artists who were present so long ago.
The ribbon of water called the Rio Grande (Big River) is powerful, even as it seems lazy in places, and forceful where steeper gradients incite rapids. What a delight to float this life-giving waterway, even more meaningful after time in the desert, past bright green willows and tall cottonwood trees growing along the shore, backed by the canyon walls carved in another way, over eons, by flowing water.
The Diversity of Nature, Art, Architecture & Food
New Mexico’s nature is diverse and so are its towns, with a melding of Native American, Mexican, and Spanish cultures, plus the current-day influx of artists from across the world. Santa Fe, Taos, and Old Town Albuquerque are charming places to explore art, architecture, and food.
I love talking with the Native American artisans at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, learning about their methods for making jewelry, rugs, and other handcrafts. Equally fun, is walking along Canyon Boulevard and seeing the contemporary art galleries. Or visiting the people at Taos Pueblo, who live in the same homes built by their ancestors thousands of years ago, still beating similar drums and dancing their culture.
This experience also offers the unique delight that can only be found via a visit to Ten Thousand Waves Spa; inspired by the great Japanese mountain hot spring resorts and the only spa like it in North America. A relaxing, peaceful atmosphere envelopes you as you soak situated in a secluded mountainside forest outside of Santa Fe.
Of course, eating is delightful in New Mexico. Famous for a combination of flavors, with just enough spice, sauce, color and crunch in each savory bite; the food alone is worth a visit to this southwestern state.
I keep coming back to New Mexico for all of these sensory experiences of light and color, tastes, textures and sounds, connection with earth and mystery of ancient ways of being. The opportunity to explore with AGC offers an amazing array of adventures, but also plenty of time to relax and rejuvenate. Yes, the Land of Enchantment keeps its big promise. I hope you will come and be delighted with me.
Find out more about the New Mexico Land of Enchantment itinerary.