21/8/11 woke up in Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s worth mentioning to everyone, who does not know: Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S., having been designated as such in 1610, when the plaza was laid out and the Palace of the Governors was established (it’s the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States!).

I really enjoy New Mexico, as it does not feel like US at all. It actually feels like.. Mexico. Santa Fe is full of artists, indian jewellery (shame it all looks the same), cool low rise houses there are countless galleries. Hundreds of them in fact. I feel safe to assume there is A LOT of money in the area.

Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe Plaza

Santa Fe Plaza

We went for a short stroll to the market to see hundreds of indians selling their blue jewellery. It makes me wonder. How did they find themselves in this situation? They owned this land, they were here first, then they were raided by pretty much everyone and now they need to support themselves by selling cheap trinkets, and being on show for tourists looking for “the real indian pueblos”.

We were debating staying here another day, but decided to move on and take a little de-tour to Jemez Springs about 40miles north to see “the real pueblos”, but most of all, to swim in the hot spring for which the area is famous for.

The drive itself is very scenic. There are big red rock formations, and massive mountains covered with huge trees and it all looks very picturesque.

The first stop here was Soda Dam, naturally occuring formation of twister looking rock through which water flows out of one side. Kind of like a mini swirly waterfall, but the water was murky. In the middle of it there was a warm spring, which me and Leah intended to see by climbing in to a cave in the rock. My Marc Jacobs bag is now worth half of it’s value due to this expedition. Lesson one: don’t put the leather in a green looking paddle.

Soda Dam

After that I let Leah do a bit of climbing, which Shane was not too impressed about, but it’s all an experience. He was panicking so went after her up a nice’ steep rock formation, but the climb was smooth enjoyable and they were back down after 10 minutes.

I got some strange idea, that there was a waterfall somewhere nearby, so got Shane to drive ahead, but turned out the swirly paddle we’ve seen before WAS the waterfall. On a good note, we found the way to the hot springs. It was about one mile walk, quite cool, not too steep, and after around 20 minutes we finally got there. We wouldn’t know about the shortcut and the trail if it wasn’t for some old dudes, camping in the parking lot in their old trailer, but I will be back to that later.

Not so hot springs

We got to the hot springs, which turned out to be rather luke warm, but enjoyable.
The water looked like a paddle (it was our lucky day for murky water), there was something growing on the stones at the bottom, making them slimy which I really hate as I cannot see where I’m standing, so I have spent a good 30 minutes either on Shane’s or Leah’s knees, like a child. Pathetic.

So, we head back and get to the car, and as we pack our wet clothes away, one of the dudes I have mentioned, starts talking to us. He is going through most of the bands from the 80′s, saying he played with them (he is apparently one of the best harmonica players in the States). Apparently Billy Stewart’s “Sitting in the park” was a song about him, as Billy met him in the park and offered him a “job” in his band. He kept throwing name after name of the people he played with and in a way it was adorable and entertaining, a bit sad, as he was still hoping for another big gig, but mostly interesting, that 4 dudes travel around America without a care in the world, happy when they’ve got enough for petrol. Good spirit.

After the unexpected encounter, we headed to Albuquerque, where we had a cool dinner at “Genghis Grill” Mongolian stir-fry (we had to pick the ingredients, kind of like in “Subway”, and they made the stir-fry for us on the spot; Awesome idea, go there if you have a chance), and crashed in a hotel.