Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time in Taos

We traveled to Taos on Sunday, August 12. Shortly before the afternoon shower, we were camped in Sierra Village RV Park in Taos Canyon. The park is small, with lovely flowers, fruit trees (the plums were delicious....too bad the pears weren't yet ripe) and a group of friendly campers. The park has a nice outdoor kitchen where guests can cook their own food or meet for a potluck dinner. There are also covered areas for crafts or other activities.

We were pleased to have in camp two very talented wood carvers. Mitch Anthony is shown here with what will become "Mrs. Paul's Fish Stick," a walking stick with a fish as its handle. 

Dandy Whitener showed me several pieces he is working on. The "castle" is made from the bark of a cottonwood tree and the old man's head from a pine knot. 

Sierra Village also has a short "nature trail" behind the camp which is great for exercising the dogs. (And people, "straight up" the side of the mountain!). There are also more great hiking trails a couple of miles from camp. We let the dogs carry their packs on those. Since carrying packs means they're "working," they stay on the trails much better than if just off-leash.

We went into Taos for some sight-seeing. The first images were shot at Saint Francis de Asis church (San Francisco de Asis) just outside of town in Ranches de Taos. This is an active church as well as a National Historic Landmark. Constructed in the 18th century of adobe bricks, it is known as one of the most photographed of the Spanish Colonial churches.

Photos are not allowed in the church, but we were able to view a short video and to see the church's famous "Mystery Painting" on display in an adjacent building. 

The painting is a life-size depiction of Christ standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was donated to the church a number of years ago. The "mystery" involves what happens when the painting shown above is viewed in total darkness. The water in the painting glows faintly, and over the left shoulder of the figure of Christ, the shadow of a cross appears. The paint has been tested, and does not appear to have any phosphorescent qualities, so how the water glows in total darkness and why the shadow of a cross appears is a mystery. We viewed the painting in a darkened room, and could see the phosphorescence and the shadow, and remain puzzled as to how these effects occur.  Whether it was the power of suggestion or something else, I can't say.

We also paid a short visit to Taos Pueblo. The pueblo is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. The two main structures, Hlaauma, or North House and Hlaukkwima, or South House, are thought to be well over 1,000 years old. They are made up of many individual homes built in layers, sideby side, with common walls and no connecting doorways. We were told that the structures look much like they did when the conquistadors first arrived, except that they now have doorways. Originally the only entry into the homes was by ladder through an opening in the roof.

The exteriors of the buildings are plastered annually with adobe to prevent deterioration. The Pueblo maintains a restriction on running water and the use of electricity within the sacred village, and some of the cooking is still done in fireplaces. However, wood stoves and propane fuel is used in many of the homes.

The cemetery is where the original San Geronimo Church once stood. It was built around 1619 by the Spanish priests using Indian labor. We were told that the people of the Pueblo were forced into Catholicism and slavery in order to become "civilized." This eventually led to the Pueblo revolt of 1680 and upon its success, the freedom of the Pueblo people until they were reconquered by the Spanish in the 1700s. The San Geronimo church was destroyed by US troops in 1847 after townspeople and a few natives tried to overthrow the government and killed the territorial governor, Charles Bent. Its ruins can be seen in the image above.

Again, we hated to leave Taos. It seems there are always more things to see and do than we have time for. But that's what will bring us back here again.

No comments:

Post a Comment