Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘Rio Grande

Tantalizing Taos Tempts Tourists

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Retired wagon rests by Martinez Hacienda on outskirts of Taos. New Mexico


By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

TAOS, N.M. —- This citadel community of some 6,000 people nestled in a high-desert valley is gearing up for another onslaught. Over the past four centuries, locals have survived attacks by conquistadors, hostile Native American tribes, scheming land-grabbers, marauding Civil War troops, and hippies. Rather than repel these waves, Taos embraced them and packaged their best qualities to lure more of their newest invaders: tourists.

There’s much more to absorb than artifacts and adobes. You can ski at nearby Snake Dance from Thanksgiving through April. Hike or bike along the rim of the dizzying Rio Grande Gorge a few miles out of town, where it’s unlikely you’ll encounter anyone who’ll smash your serenity or solitude.

Trip over to the village of Arroyo Seco and grab some comforting ice cream before a libation at Abe’s Cantina y Cocina, where the founder’s Japanese flag souvenired from World War II still hangs over the back of the bar.

In early summer, you can discuss the qualities of adobe construction with volunteers scrambling around one of the most-photographed churches on the globe: San Francisco Assisi.  Because the church has no foundation, moisture seeps up into the walls and the outer skin crumbles. Volunteer parishioners apply a new coat of mud to the building each June. Building began in the 1700s and the church was completed in 1815. There are no windows because it was also designed as a fortress against vengeful Indians. Inside, where photographs are forbidden, is a picture of a pregnant Mary.
The Native American pueblo, which is open sometimes and sometimes not, that offers a window into tribal customs and culture is still a major attraction here and now houses a casino – the only one in the state that prohibits smoking and alcoholic drinks.

Nearby, the Martinez Hacienda opens a door to the early 1800s when Mexico ruled. Don Antonio Martinez was a trader, as were most early settlers, who began building the
ranch house in 1804 and kept adding to it as he and his family prospered.  The trader and his troupe bundled up their pelts and other goods for the annual trek to Mexico City to pay tribute to whoever was the ruler at the time.

Before leaving, you have to sample frito pie, the local junk food. The recipe is simple – taco chips drenched in chile sauce. It comes with red or green sauce. Red is hot. Green is not. Sometimes it’s the other way around. So when you ask for chile in a local restaurant, ask for Christmas so you get both red and green and suit yourself.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2006

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 3, 2014 at 12:05 am