Taos is a lovely town. We met a lot of very friendly people there, especially Bernie and Connie who own the Village Store in the town plaza. They gave us great advice on a wonderful place to eat, Orlando’s, and we bought Christmas ornaments that Connie designed and made.
One of our side trips was to the Taos Pueblo, just outside of town. Or, it might be more accurate to say that the town in just outside the Pueblo, since the the Taos Pueblo has been there, occupied as a living community, for more than 1,200 years. Our tour guide, a young man who’s family has lived in the Pueblo since forever, gave us a good overview of what it means to be a Tewa, which is what the people of the Taos Pueblo are called. He said that in earlier days we wouldn’t have seen any of the doors and windows in the walls of the pueblo. Access was up and down ladders through openings in the roofs, and if enemies approached they pulled up the ladders. Imagine coming and going on a daily basis with old, creaky knees!
The Spanish conquistadors brought the Catholic religion and made each pueblo pick a patron saint. Jerome, or Geronimo, because the patron of the Taos Pueblo, and while our guide, Cameron, said about three quarters of the community still consider themselves Catholic, the focus of the religion has adapted to incorporate many of their ancient beliefs and practices. The main figure on the altar was Mary, all dressed in blue to represent the season of rains, because the Tewa relate her to nature and their role as caretakers of their land.
Very few people still live inside the walls of the Pueblo, and there is still a prohibition against electricity or running water in the houses, so while the individual dwellings within the pueblos are still owned and maintained by the families, mostly they are used for ceremonial purposes, or some of the families have turned their spaces into small shops.
We enjoyed talking to some of the people who were selling their crafts. It was a very interesting day. It’s encouraging to know that some of the young people are working very hard to keep their language and traditions alive.
The next day we drove up to the Taos ski resort, which was a quick trip since it’s only 15 miles away. Looks pretty much like any ski resort. The RV park manager had told us we could ride the gondola up the mountain, but turns out it only ran on the weekend, so we came back down the mountain again and went to visit some of the museums in town including Kit Carson’s house, and finished our visit to Taos with another stroll through the plaza and dinner at Orlando’s again. Yum!