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Naples Florida Weekly: The Latest Addition to New Mexico

Recent Mexico known as “The Land of Enchantment.”

It’s also the land of UFOs (Roswell), the land of weapons of mass destruction (Los Alamos) and the land of fracking in an otherwise green state (Permian Basin). And it’s the land of many pueblos, each with its own casino and pot shop.

TRECKER

TRECKER

It’s dry and barren and wonderful.

My wife and I just made our fourth visit to Recent Mexico, and things have modified big time since we were there 11 years ago. Every part we remembered we remembered mistaken. Seems you usually remember the way in which things were. They usually aren’t that way any more.

To start with, every part has grown. Albuquerque is now an enormous sprawl within the desert, reaching north toward Santa Fe. Its famous Old Town is only a dot on the map, overshadowed by medical centers, a growing university and suburbs extending miles in all directions.

The weather, all the time unsettled, is without end changing. Someday we drove through a blinding hailstorm in Albuquerque. But the largest change isn’t occasional hail. It’s the searing heat and lack of rainfall resulting in the drought that plagues much of the Southwest. The Rio Grande and Rio Chama are still flowing, but barely.

One other change is the casinos. Every tribe has one, easily recognized since it’s the grandest constructing on the town. It’s like cloning the Immokalee Casino and sprinkling it throughout Recent Mexico. You may gamble your money away and make book on almost anything — all day, on daily basis.

And recreational marijuana is now legal. The pot shops pander to natives and tourists alike. One dispensary in Santa Fe, just off the predominant plaza, known as “Best Daze” and there isn’t any doubt what it sells. My wife said, “Just stand by the open door and also you’ll get high.”

One thing that hasn’t modified is the spicy food. Every part remains to be jacked up with the ever present red peppers that blow out your taste buds. We milquetoast easterners need to watch out what we order.

Religion stays a priority. Wonderful pueblo churches are in all places. A highlight was the San Francisco de Asis, the “Ranchos Church” south of Taos featured in paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and photos by Ansel Adams. Construction began in 1772, and the mud-and-straw adobe partitions are replastered yearly.

One other thing that hasn’t modified are the people, still unfailingly helpful to muddled tourists. Transplants, Native Americans and Hispanics alike exit of their technique to help visitors — and to sell them every part they’ll.

Free enterprise is on full display. Pottery, baskets, paintings, sculptures, photos, lithographs. You name it. Santa Fe stays a crossroad of the humanities, with more galleries than every other U.S. city but Recent York and Los Angeles.

We bought a black-on-black vase from the granddaughter of potters who made the long-lasting piece within the Santa Clara Pueblo in 1979. Pretty special.

And we met some super people. There was Andrew, the waiter, who’s paying his technique to an accounting degree on the University of Recent Mexico. And Roger, a California transplant who runs a lavender farm outside of Abiquiu. And Teresa, who looks like a Wall Street executive, but makes bead necklaces on the Okay Owingeh Pueblo.

The people haven’t modified and neither has the scenery. The views along the Turquoise Trail are still terrific. And we were treated to magnificent sandstone bluffs and mesas in El Malpais, Ghost Ranch and Bandelier; deep chasms carved by the Rio Grande; and the Taos Pueblo — like nothing else on the planet.

Mark us down for a return visit. ¦

Dave Trecker is a chemist and retired Pfizer executive living in Florida.

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