Sometimes I forget how young the United States really is. Traces of our historical past rarely go back more than one or two centuries, and those traces tend to congregate in the 13 colony pockets along the East Coast.
But head Southwest and even older traces predating the United States are bountiful, and layers of civilizations mingle, a cultural-historical brew of pre-Colombian Olmec ruins and pottery, Native American pueblos, Spanish conquistadors, and Mexican revolutionaries.
New Mexico is awash in reminders that long before the United States came into being, a frontier community staked out a precarious existence among a landscape already peopled by even older communities, some tracing their roots back a thousand years. The Navajo already roamed the desert plateaus, raising sheep and raiding neighboring communities. Pueblos dotted the Rio Grande River and lush mountain valleys, civilizations which built multi-story apartment-style buildings and irrigated a desert to raise crops.
And in 1610, a group of Spanish soldiers, settlers, and priests trekked north from New Spain and founded Santa Fe, the capital of the New Mexico colony and the far, lonely edge of the Spanish frontier in the Americas.
Today Santa Fe and the surrounding region are full of visible reminders of this past – old mission churches, the 17th century Palace of the Governors, Spanish-era irrigation canals called acequias still in active use, and 18 Pueblo communities, including Taos Pueblo which still maintains their 1,000-year-old adobe pueblo.
To view my photo slide show of Santa Fe, click on the link: Santa Fe, New Mexico -May 2015