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Santa Fe Excursion

Santa Fe Sunset

This weekend marks the end of the 96th annual Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest and most prestigious juried Native arts show in the world. The Indian Market, which started almost a century ago, attracts 100,000+ visitors from all over the world, to buy art directly from roughly 900 artists from 200+ federally recognized tribes from the U.S. and Canada.

I wish I was there this year.  Instead, I’m taking a trip down memory lane…

Santa Fe Excursion

The horses neighing outside my bedroom window were my wake up call.

Santa Fe New Year’s (2004)

The cowboys promised they’d take me for a ride up in ‘them thar hills’ a day earlier, but I really didn’t take them seriously. Why I don’t know, but I should have. Sure ‘nuf, they showed up — on time, saddled up and rearing to go.  I do declare I even heard them holler giddy up.

I, on the other hand, needed a cup of coffee first.

Lamy Train StationStaying in Lamy, NM at a friend’s house right across from a train station which suspiciously seemed stuck in time, I’d always dreamed of how magical a trip to Santa Fe might be.  I’m happy to say that those dreams were realized.

Most certainly, Santa Fe is a spiritual place.

Some of my Memphis and Aspen friends gathered for a long weekend of fun, shopping and total relaxation to ring in the New Year. Trust me when I say the town and the company did not disappoint.

In addition to the early morning horseback ride, we indulged our bodies at Ten Thousand Waves Spa, indulged our senses at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Museum and indulged our taste buds with many margaritas and guacamole galore at shmancy-fancy restaurants. We shopped at some groovy resale shops as well as some upscale jewelry boutiques and obviously …

I indulged in some turquoise.

Santa Fe ArchitectureWe also were captivated by the magnificent  architecture which did not disappoint. Santa Fe has a distinctive architectural style all its own. No other city in the country has so many low-slung, earth-colored, Spanish Pueblo buildings made of adobe bricks (consisting of sun-dried earth and straw). The Spanish natives often built their houses initially with only one or two rooms, then added on later to accommodate their expanding families. And their simple home design incorporated just a few doors or windows in order to retain heat during the winter and maintain cool temperatures during the summer.  I love that they cherished and preserved their sense of community via their ‘pueblo’ (the spanish term for ‘village’) design. (Read more about the Santa Fe Architecture)

I truly believe that there is an artist in every single person, whether it be cooking or writing or horseback riding or something that puts you into that zone where nothing else matters. When you’re in that zone it all comes together. Life makes sense.” — Amber Morningstar Byars, Choctaw Lapidary Artist

For New Year’s Eve, we celebrated with dinner and drinks at our host’s friend’s house. It was a large group of interesting creative types with captivating conversation and booming laughter lingering none too long. Afterwards, we hiked up the back hills to experience a New Year’s Eve fireworks show over Santa Fe. Admittedly, we also did a little tribunal dance to call in all those good, happy spirits to bless us that year. I can’t recall if someone brought a drum, but we happily found a beat. Humdrum it was not.

Truly memorable.

Another thing I definitely won’t forget is the incredible curry chicken dish, consumed at ‘home’ — in front of the fire — on one of our Santa Fe nights. Stomachs growled, wine flowed and laughter rang out that night. I’ve kept and cooked that complex South African Indian Curry Chicken (secret family) recipe several times since then, and each time, it leads me right back to Santa Fe at the Zunkel home.

The last morning before our too soon departure, we stopped by Santa Fe’s proclaimed meeting place, The Pantry, for a delicious, New Mexican breakfast of Huevos Rancheros. It was the perfect finale to a much needed getaway.

We went to Santa Fe to fill our spirits and our tummies. Needless to say, we left satiated.

My Turquoise Bear

turquoise bear pendantIn Native American beliefs, the bear symbolizes physical strength and leadership. The bear is considered to be one of the most powerful and sacred of all animals, and because the bear hibernates, it is considered to bring the gift of renewal.

Every time I wear my impressive, carved turquoise bear pendant which I purchased during this Santa Fe excursion, I not only get tons of compliments, I think I feel stronger, more vibrant and admittedly, kind of cool too.

After all, isn’t that what the power of turquoise is supposed to do?

Legend has it that the Native American Indians danced and rejoiced when the rains came. Their tears of joy mixed with the rain and seeped into Mother Earth to become ‘SkyStone’ Turquoise.

Turquoise, the “fallen sky stone” hidden in Mother Earth, has been valued by cultures for its beauty and reputed spiritual and life-giving qualities for over 7000 years. It is a true gem of the centuries. A long time ago someone noticed a clear blue line running through gray rock, and saw the imagery of sky and water in stone, and from that time on, turquoise has been cherished above all else in creation – turquoise, stone of sky, stone of water, stone of blessings, good fortune, protection, good health and long life.

Native Americans believe that the earth is alive and that all things, no matter how small or apparently inanimate, are precious. To the Native Americans, turquoise is life. There are stones medicine men keep in their sacred bundles because they possess powers of healing. Stones and crystals have unique attributes that support and heal us. Turquoise, especially, is known for its positive healing energy, an aid in mental functions, communications and expression and as a protector. If you’re wearing a turquoise ring and you look down and see a crack in your stone, the Native Americans would say “the stone took it”, meaning the stone took the blow that you would have received.

Sometimes, when I see a cowboy on a horse…when I have a fresh squeezed margarita….when I wear turquoise….even when I say a prayer of gratitude, I think of this magical trip to Santa Fe, exhale and reminisce. I’m excited for a return visit which — guaranteed — will be sooner rather than later.

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