Storytelling In The Southwest
Rosina Eloisa Rodriguez was born in Taos on September 10, 1935. This was the only fact I knew of my grandmother growing up. While my mom knew bits and pieces of her mother's history, Rosina never shared her childhood in great detail with her children. Up until the day "Nana Rose" passed in 2009, we spent countless birthdays, Christmas Eve nights and family get-togethers, aware of her background but not an
understanding of the places, people and culture she experienced. For 6 days, my mom and I ventured into the northern region of New Mexico. What was a spontaneous trip became a time warp into Rosina's past. With over 600 photos, a few souvenirs and stories with twists and turns, I am so thrilled to share with you my family legacy! Instead of sharing everything I saw, learned and ate in one blog post,
Download my free pocket guide at the bottom of this post!
TAOS | THE SOUL OF THE SOUTHWEST
Taos is known for it's "old town" feel, ski resort and art community. It's essentially a tasteful canvas with both colorful and detailed architecture. Most residents are writers, sculptors and artists including the late RC Gorman, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Pascarella and even my great aunt, Carolina Parr.
Everywhere you look there is an art imprint! El Rincòn (means the corner) is an artifact/jewelry shop next to the Kit Carson historical site. Owner, Estevan Castillo, manages the shop originally founded in 1909 by his parents. Estevan is a jewelry maker himself and knows anything and everything about the vendors he sells at El Rincòn.
Set aside all your fears of heights and winding roads. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is daunting yet beautiful in how it connects the countryside with downtown Taos. These photos don't do justice of the actual landmark. The Rio Grande Gorge has been inspiration for thousands of painters and has made it's debut in several movies. Taos Mountain is also a sight to see while driving the countryside.
Rosina Yvonne Rodriguez grew up on Dragoon Street, a quaint family community near the downtown area. She went to Taos High School (now Taos Elementary) where she was loved by her classmates and involved in a variety of activities including band and cheerleading. As quoted in her senior yearbook, "flirting with the boys" was her hobby and many students wrote notes to her saying how "swell" she was and to always stay in touch.
Pictured below is Rosina's childhood home, a trophy case dedicated to Taos High School and the original gymnasium where her cheerleading practices took place.
Prior to the trip, my mother researched on ancestry.com where she found grave sites and
Ranchos De Taos Presbyterian Church. As we entered Taos, we immediately recognized the church as the same one my mom had found online. Her grandfather,
Amador Martinez (on her father's side) was a minister here. Ranchos De Taos was built in 1892 and the exact sign and building still stands today.
The food in New Mexico has me spoiled. I eat tacos, pico de gallo and salsa more than I care to admit. One excuse is that it basically contains all main food groups, right? Right. In New Mexico, red chili is the ultimate cure-all (or green if that's your preference). Everything I had was fresh and unforgettable.
Tip 1: Order chips plus dip(s) of your choice every place you go.
Tip 2: When asked "red or green" chili, respond with "Christmas" to try both!
WHAT TO ORDER
- Carne Adovada Plate (pictured)
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Turkey Wrap
WHAT TO ORDER
- Combination Plate: Enchilada, Taco, Chili Relleno (pictured)
- Biscochito: A cookie flavored with cinnamon and anise (fennel-like plant). At Orlando's they serve two options of ordering a dark chocolate or white chocolate dipped biscochito! This desert is a tradition during the holidays.
To finish out our stay in Taos, we ate at
, originally Spivey's Cafe in Rosina's day. While the ownership has changed, the original red stools and wood countertops give this staple diner it's 50s charm. (pictured above)
- Breakfast Enchilada
- Tortilla Rellenada
- SOPAIPILLAS (this is not a drill...)
- Two eggs with choice of meat with a biscuit on the side (pictured)
SANTA FE | THE CITY DIFFERENT
Santa Fe is Taos at a larger scale with a contemporary touch. In Santa Fe I saw some of the oldest structures in U.S. history, learned religious practices of both traditional and modern-day New Mexicans and escaped with the desert terrain. Sounds dreamy right? It was. Even in an open desert there are secrets to unfold.
Most popular landmarks in New Mexico are known for being some the oldest buildings in the U.S. and the most sacred to practicing Catholics. Santuario De Chimayo (pictured above) is popular for it's "el pocito" or small pit of Holy Dirt, that many people believe can cure ailments. El Santuario is considered "tierra bendita" or "sacred earth.".
In downtown Santa Fe, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, San Miguel Mission Church and the Loretto Chapel contain artifacts dating back to the 1600's. San Miguel is the oldest church structure in the U.S.A (1610).
By the time I got to Santa Fe, I was for sure I'd lost my appetite for blue corn and queso. Nope! In Santa Fe there are plenty of places that offer their own spin on New Mexico's finest foods.
, a family operated business has been a dining institution since 1953 and is best know for it's "hot chili" and enchiladas. Other dining spots to try are
WHAT TO ORDER
- Blue Corn Burritos
- Enchilada and Taco Plate (pictured)
- Huevos Rancheros & "Light Huevos"