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.
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).
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.
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.
We spent all afternoon up there.
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:
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.