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10/14/2007: Day 5: Staying put in Sky City, NM
After a good night of sleep in the Sky City Hotel-Casino, I got to work writing up the previous day. Actually, it was mostly selecting and editing and uploading and captioning and linking pictures of the Balloon Fiesta.
Sunday morning in the Sky City Hotel and Casino. Dan spends hours selecting a relatively few balloon pictures to post online. The hot pot steams on the other side of the table, and coffee cups, tea carafe, and various breakfast options are as disorderly as his hair.
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New Mexico is very dry. Between the elevation and absent humidity, it is hard to stay hydrated. That's part of why there is a steaming pot next to me in the picture.
Shortly before check-out time, Karen suggested taking it easy by staying in the same place for another night. It is the most expensive place we've been in so far at $60, but I eagerly accepted the idea.
So instead of packing up, we went to the Acoma Pueblo. We had read about it in Smithsonian Magazine not long ago, and Karen had to see it. Among its claims to fame is that it is the oldest continuously occupied Pueblo on the continent. The more famous Taos Pueblo (see our 2004 visit there)claims the longest occupied building in the world, but by several cultures. This city on a mesa is still occupied by direct descendants of the original stone-age people, the same culture. The word Pueblo (in case you didn't know) means a village considered as a population (as opposed to its location or its artifacts).
Karen uses melted ice from our coolers to help local plants.
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Dirty reflection of Dan presenting his $10 camera pass for use in Sky City. We leave the windows cracked to help keep the car cool, and later come back to find a layer of dust on the steering wheel, and presumably everything else.
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We had lunch in the cultural center (red lamb chile stew and green pork chile stew with Horno-baked bread and fry bread, yum).
Then we took the tour up top. Our group was a blend of typical tourists and savvy travelers. One guy in particular kept getting in trouble by ignoring the rules. The most sacred (and most frequently posted) rule is not to photograph the graveyard, and he did this first off and got into a row with the security guy. The interior of the mission is also off limits. Inside the chapel there are the typical Catholic icons. In this open-to-the-air building, the 17th and 18th century original paintings are quite well preserved. At 6,700 feet on the dry side of the divide in a building with walls up to 30 feet thick, it makes sense.
The San Estaban del Rey Mission built by enslaved natives in the 1630's, some of whom are entombed in the walls. Accounts vary about how willing the natives were in building this structure, but it still stands.
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A street view in the Sky City of Acoma. Ravens are generally this visible.
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Every block of buildings has a vendor area. Just a table or two of pottery or pastries made up here. There is no electricity or running water, and buildings are still made of sandstone and/or the new-fangled material, adobe. Karen joined the shoppers, and we are seriously considering one of the high-priced pots. We won't close on that deal until we get back to low altitude.
Our tour guide was young and animated. It was (apparently unusually) cold and windy up on the mesa. I still have sand in my (wild) hair the next morning.
Karen converses with our guide, who was trying to warm her hands on this dark and chilly day.
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We spent all afternoon up there.
Shot of the Sky City from the Cultural Center down below
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The Cultural Center has windows of mica and Eisenglass to emulate the windows that the Spaniards found here. Mica (a form of calcite) was once found in big sheets near here, and made good windows before glass was introduced.
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A couple of shots crudely assembled into a panoramic view of the CUltural Center with the Sky City in the background
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On the drive back north, we stopped at the overlook and got a look at the city in the sun. When the Spanish first saw the gleam from the mica windows and thought it was a mythical city of gold. Most of the mica windows have been replaced by glass, so the gleam is gone. But I like showing off my camera:
From a lookout across the valley, you can make out the Sky City on the last mesa before the far wall.
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From the same place, zoomed in to see the Sky City. Nice camera, steady rock.
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Really zoomed in look at the same view as the last 2 pix, this time cropped instead of reduced. You can see the Mission from across the valley.
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Our car between the Sky City across the valley and the sign at the lookout with more info.
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Back to the Hotel-Casino to rest and have dinner. We shared the prime rib plate, instead of getting more Indian food.
Then, yet another sunset.
Nearly a new moon above sunset tinted cloud
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Another Sunset shot with a mesa. Note the fading gray layers in the foreground.
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A wider look at the sunset.
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Next: Day 6: From Sky City, NM to Window Rock, AZ

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