Tuesday, August 26, 2003
So we’re packing up here and leaving Santa Fe, New Mexico, at least temporarily. Since January I’ve spent much more time here than in Dublin, and it’s been very rewarding to get to know this unlikely place.
Much older than the US, and still only partly attached to the Union, the city supports native, Spanish and ‘Anglo’ communities, allowing a much greater sense of diversity than I saw anywhere down the Mississippi. What else makes it unique?
The climate – at 7000’, it’s one of the US’ highest cities, and the high desert landscape of rich red earth, brilliant blue skies and massive vistas has attracted artists of all sorts. The art market here is second only to New York (amazing when you consider how small a place it is), D H Lawrence came to live in this neck of the woods, and you can’t move for new-age sandal wearers.
The food – New Mexican cuisine is similar to Mexican, but is really a thing in itself. Everything is smothered with hot green chile, and often with cheese. Breakfast burritos rock, chile rellenos are great, and even the lowly burger is transformed into a green chile cheeseburger. Tourists often ask for their chile on the side, but any place worth its salt in town refuses to do that – the chile is crucial to the cooking process, and a lot of stuff would just burn without it.
I’ve eaten my way happily around town, and declare the Durango omelet with tomatillo sauce Pasquals to be perhaps the best breakfast I’ve ever eaten).
People – it’s a funky liberal town with plenty of cultural life, including a beautiful opera house in the desert just outside town. David Norris came to do his schtick, and with good cinemas and at least a couple of theatres, it’s got a lot more going for it than its giant neighbour Albuquerque, about an hour away. There’s the bleeding ponytail rich liberal retirees who buy up all the expensive houses, and a younger more dog-on-a-string set of outdoors folks, who appreciate the ski-ing, rafting and mountainbiking the area offers. Radical, dude.
It’s been argued that a lot of ‘broken’ people come to Santa Fe, looking to be fixed, and it’s true that there’s a large transient population. People come, stay for a couple of years, and then head off again somewhere more real. Those that stay are presumably still ‘broken’, so the dating scene can be very hit and miss, apparently.
That said, almost all the people I’ve met have been warm and kind, with a healthy disdain for ShrubCo and a quick sense of humour.
Living here – I’ve really enjoyed my time here, even though I’ve not been fully involved in the life here, as I’ve not been working with anyone here. I’ve been finishing off the first book, planning the second, and doing some day-job stuff for some folks back in Dublin. But working in the library, having a coffee in Jane’s and then coming home to tap way with a great view of the mountains has been a great experience.
So we’re driving to LA, starting on Friday, and stopping halfway in Flagstaff, Arizona. Arthur the cat is coming with us, before he flies Virgin Atlantic to London, where he’s picked up and brought to Dublin. I’ll already be there, back in the ould sod again, in time for the weather to turn nasty. But after such a busy few months I’ll be very glad to be back there.
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