Buckingham – We are here for a week and are getting into a sort of routine, up at dawn to drive for a run. This morning it was -8.5C (that’s 16.5*f for our American friends) and at over 7,000 feet that is quite cold. We discover that running up the hills at this elevation isn’t as easy as at sea level. From the dog park we can see over town in one direction and out to the distant snow-capped mountains in the other – makes the early start worthwhile.
Home for breakfast, which today is substantial as we need our energy for the house hunting expedition. I have been told that SF is a contender in the place to live stakes.
They leave me at home and go to see 6 properties with Melissa. The typical adobe houses are very charming although the last house, even that the entire area is built by one developer and it’s made of timber, is stunning with an entire glass frontage and a central courtyard. Lisa is trying hard to convince Mark SF is the place to settle.
They come home to take me to see the State Capitol of Santa Fe. It is built in the shape of a Zia sun symbol with a large collection of art and monumental sculptures throughout the grounds.
We turn a block to see the San Miguel Mission, built in 1610, is the oldest church in the United States. Unfortunately, it is closed for viewing so Lisa takes a few quick snaps from the outside which is good because the chill factor is still rather high.
We go back to the dog park where I play with my fav toy and after a short rest at the condo and Mark gets his dream. They bundle up and walk to Maria’s for their famous margaritas. The food is enormous and Lisa loves her newly discovered posole (Mexican pork and hominy stew). They bring back the oven fresh tortillas for me and it’s mmm-mmm-good!
Buckingham – Today Mark receives an email from our landlords that their office is 3 doors down and they would love to meet us. We walk over to meet Francis & Michael, and I impress them so much that they extend a dinner invitation to their home in El Dorado on Saturday, and to meet Ali McGraw (their 8 year old lab). Lisa gets the low down on the ‘real’ local shops to go foraging in so we head off with a mission. On the way they stop for lunch at a recommended African restaurant which apparently is excellent. They keep getting told that SF is a great culinary experience but unfortunately our one week here means they have to be picky on their choice. Mark still wants try the toxic margaritas at the neighbourhood Maria’s bar that will help with the digestion of their hot enchiladas.
After the much needed ‘Jackalop’ retail therapy, we visit the Loretto Chapel on the Old Santa Fe Trail, which is patterned after King Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Completed in 1890, the chapel houses the much revered ‘miraculous staircase’ with 33 steps that spirals two 360* turns and it has no nails or visible mean of support. However, recent hand rails have been constructed to help support the structure.
Back in Connecticut, our ‘caretaker’ asks if we need her to continue her weekly house check and Lisa gratefully says ‘yes’ but tells her that we don’t know when we’ll be back to pack up. It’s hard to go back when Santa Fe is so charming and has so much to offer… We find out that the original name for SF was the Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi (Spanish for “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi).
Buckingham – Get to the newly found dog park for an early morning run and it’s freezing at 7,000 feet above sea level … the snow is still on the ground from yesterday as the sun has not yet come up above the horizon. The park is on a hill overlooking the town and now that the sun is out on the clear snowless morning we can see for miles. Needless to say we don’t hang around too long due to the cold and get back to the under floor heating of the loft.
We head into Santa Fe (Spanish for ‘holy faith’) to explore and park at the Plaza, the main square of the town. From the car I see a mule and insist on a closer inspection only to discover all is not what it appears.
Downtown is very attractive with old adobe buildings that haven’t been overly commercialised. There are no commercial industries and no high rise buildings. The air is crisp and fresh. We arrive at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in time to see a funeral procession exiting so I sit very still as a mark of respect.
Mark and Lisa discover a French Crepe restaurant so they put me back in the car but they move the car to a sun spot so I don’t get too cold. After a thoroughly enjoyable lunch, Lisa conducts some retail survey work. The locals are extremely friendly especially after they discover that aside from visiting, we are also scouting for a possible place of abode. Although the population is a mere 60,000, it is the third most culturally influenced place in America with an acclaimed opera house, art galleries and designers, after New York and L.A. Santa Fe was part of Mexico until 1912 when it first became a territory and finally New Mexico state. Aside from the obvious Mexican influence, it is also Spanish, with an eclectic input from other countries including a small community of Tibetans as part of the international resettlement programme.
Mark and I leave Lisa in the center to speak to more Santa Fe-ans and head back to the dog park where I play with my favourite breed, a young female Rhodesian Ridgeback – hope that she is there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…