Wednesday, June 10, 2015

los tres gentes y los touristas

I was a tourist in Santa Fe in 1978.  We arrived in a big red Jeep Wagoneer, and stayed at The Inn at Loretto, and ate lunch at The Pink Adobe, dinner at Bishop's Lodge. Early in the morning of the second day, I went running on the East Side and fell in love with the place. Back in the parking lot of the motel, I found a Bentley Continental parked next to the Jeep, and the Sangre de Christos just into the light of the sun as it crested the ridge. Everything was in sharp relief, and beautiful and clear. That evening we were dinner guests of a tutor at St. John's. At that time there were still faculty apartments on campus.  The third day, we went walking up Canyon Road, buying a water colour at a Russian woman's gallery, and eating lunch at, I think, Celebrations, which has long since moved.  All in all, the trip was the kind of experience that keeps Santa Fe near the top of lists of best vacation destinations, the kind of experience that makes many tourists think they want to move to Santa Fe.

Canyon Road is named for the canyon of the Santa Fe river, not much of a canyon and not much of a river, by many standards, but significant in the high desert. No one know when people first settled in that little almost-green valley. Often downtown construction sites become archaeological sites. Los pueblos--the people--who inhabited the area spoke Tewa when Don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado declared the Kingdom of New Mexico in 1540, 67 years before the Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi was founded. They had lived there since at least the eleventh century. The first capital of the 'kingdom' was at San Juan, about twenty-five miles north of the site of Santa Fe. Santa Fe became the capital in 1610, when Don Pedro de Peralta was Governor-General. De Peralta remains a somewhat controversial figure, having come to represent all that is no longer considered correct in our present enlightened times. During his lifetime the revolting pueblos kept him from establishing a stable 'kingdom'. It would not be until 1692, under Don Diego de Vargas, that Santa Fe would be 'peacefully' reconquered. Two hundred and ninety eight years later, I would move into a small 'pueblo style' house on Don Diego Avenue.

The third people would come officially to Santa Fe in 1846 under the leadership of Stephen Watts Kearny. By then Mexico had become independent of Spain,  farmers from Chimayo had unsuccessfully rebelled against New Mexico, and Santa Fe had enjoyed three years of peacefulness. In 1848, Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago and New Mexico, which included the current states of Arizona, California, and part of Colorado, came under the official control of the anglos.

Ten years after my run on the Santa Fe East Side, when I actually moved to The City Different, I was still under the glowing allure of 'los tres gentes', who according to the tourist brochures all peacefully live together in the canyon and flood plain of the Santa Fe River, cooperating to fleece tourists and preserve their unique culture. Oddly enough, on our first night in Santa Fe, after our beer at La Fonda, Lin and I went on a little walk about town that included a visit to the Sanctuario de Guadalupe, about which I had just read in a anglo newspaper as exemplifying the wondrous harmony of the city. Odd, because there is probably no better example of the sorts of conflicts that continue.

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