New Mexico – Green or Red?

6/26/11 – Leaving Gallup, NM was leaving the most Native American city of its size in the US. We traveled back in time when we drove into Laguna Pueblo on Sunday morning looking for a library. We didn’t find the library but we did discover a 17th Century Spanish colonial church that was just getting ready for service. We were in awe of the blend of architectural styles and cultures as I bought a cupcake from a Native woman at a church bake sale. This is a culturally rich and diverse part of this experiment we call America. Albuquerque is the economic capitol of New Mexico. It also has the wonderful Ernie Pyle Branch Library. It is a 1940’s suburban home that the famous WWII correspondent lived in before he was killed in the war. Later, when we went to photograph libraries in the Pueblos northwest of Albuquerque we discovered their policy of no photography. After turning back from Jemez Pueblo we photographed an immense cloud of smoke coming from the mountains near Los Alamos. We had hoped to drive there but the long line of traffic going the other way told us the road was closed by the fire. As we entered Santa Fe the light became surreal and the sky turned red. We had dinner with our old, dear friend Jerry West and then spent two nights in his hand-built little house on the prairie.

6/27/11 – Our eyes were scratchy and our lungs ached as we drove through the smoke to two tiny New Mexican towns. Abiquiu, once the home of artist Georgia O’Keefe is now a quiet artist community with a beautiful old church facing the serene Abiquiu public library. In front of the small, Hispanic El Rito library we met an older Hispanic woman named Veronica standing alone in the hot sun under a black umbrella. She said she was going to star in a film being made about El Rito. She wanted to bring back the one store the town had lost and save the library from a similar fate. The sign in front of the library read “Leer Es Poder” (Reading Is Power). We then headed up into the smokey Sangre de Cristo mountains to tiny, old Spanish frontier villages perched on the edge of cliffs or in green, high mountain valleys. These are remnants of a 400 year-old Hispanic culture that still exists today. The library that we found earlier on Google in Trucas was no longer there and the town seemed barely alive. The area reminded me of Chichicastanango in Guatemala and it reminded Walker of Darjelling in India. Walker did his first mountain driving on some pretty hairy roads as we continued on to Taos. The Pueblo there is a World Heritage Site and it deserves the honor. The library in Taos is a large adobe that is beautiful inside and out. After filling up at the adobe Chevron I photographed our last library of the day in the remote Embudo Valley.

6/28/11 – I photographed our first Carnegie library an hour northeast of Santa Fe in Las Vegas, NM. The town is a blend of Anglo and Hispanic cultures but the library was pure Monticello. Back in Santa Fe I photographed the WPA-built Main Library which had a beautiful Reading Room. The library was packed. Walker is becoming an expert driver. As he drives I use my smart phone to find directions, make calls and check the internet. I did all that as we drove through a sand storm which started in Albuquerque and lasted most of the way south to Socorro. The library there has a beautiful southwest theme. Lonely Planet is our guide for places to stay. They highly recommended the Blackstone Spa and Inn in the very odd town of Truth or Consequences. The Inn was great and we stayed in the appropriately themed room called “The Twilight Zone”. We discovered the one thing everyone asks in New Mexico is whether you want your chili sauce to be green or red.

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