Haven't been in touch for a few days. Hoping you've noticed. After a few days in Taos we had enough and were more than relieved to make our way into the remote hill country of northern New Mexico hanging around Truchas with a bunch of displaced New York artists who have found their way to this Shangri-la at the top of the mountain pass between Taos and Chimayo, where the cell phone service was spotty at best, and WiFi is almost nonexistent in this, the second decade of the 21st century. Electronic communication in Chimayo wasn't much better which left us happily cut off from the outside world for days. Didn't know such places still existed. And this coming from a guy whose idea of high tech growing up was when we got a 15 foot cord connecting the telephone handset to the receiver allowing you to walk from one room to another while talking on the phone to get away from other people or just get a snack. If this makes no sense, that's ok.
So here we are in Chimayo, a small dusty pueblo that is very Catholic and very Mexican. Been there twice before and love this place. They love Jesus and they love their chile pepper, red and green, themes that dominate this little town, and the people there would be hard put if they had to choose between the two.
Actually, the only store in town that was not a church gift shop was the Vigil Store/Potero Trading Company which is a lot like the church gift shops of which there are many, dealing in religious artifacts, paintings, statues, icons, etc. The only difference is that the Vigil Store also sells a wide variety of chile related products, cold drinks, and candy bars to keep the pilgrims hydrated and happy. I bought a large bag of dried green chile flakes with the intention of continuing to eat green chile salsa well into the fall. We were lucky to be in New Mexico during chile harvesting season, and I've been eating all the green chile salsa I can, so I hope the flakes are fresh.
This building is the center of activity and attention for its architecture and healing powers and is the most famous and iconic of all Spanish mission churches in New Mexico with the exception of the one in Taos which has been ruined by the encroachment of nearby construction that has partially obscured its view and is therefore best remembered in old photos. This church is the reason people come here, for the history, the architecture and/or the miracles. It is this building that keeps Chimayo on the must see map and people literally come by the bus load, so you need to work around them.
Surprisingly, in spite of the crowds the shrine attracts, there is really only one or two places to stay in town, both ancient haciendas turned B&Bs and they account for a total of only about 10 rooms between them. We always stay at the Hacienda Rancho De Chimayo, run by the Jaramillo family. It is a large amorphous, rambling, single level adobe dwelling built in the mid 1800's and added on to as the needs of the family expended. It is quite interesting and authentic but architecturally vague and elusive and I couldn't get a handle on it photographically.
But I did get a telling picture of the inside of our room, which is more or less like all the other rooms. Old and cozy, and each with a working kiva fireplace which was the only source of heat back then in a place which does become quite cold and snowy in the winter.
The restaurante run by the same family was also originally a hacienda and was the only place to eat in town. It was also a large, rambling adobe building that has been added onto a lot over the years, and also did not lend itself well to being photographed. The food was fantastic but also not particularly photogenic, a burrito, cheese enchilada, stuffed sopaipilla, and/or a chile relleno, all on a plate side by side, covered with an extra helping of salsa verde in a somewhat dimly lit place could not produce a picture conveying how exotically spicy, delicate and delicious their food was. That turned out to be a problem for me with all my New Mexican meals. All smothered in freshly harvested salsa verde and all a delicious, amorphous mess. But, other than my obsession with great pizza where I can find it, this is not a food blog after all.