Today Bud and I headed north of Santa Fe with the goal of visiting two pueblos, as well as Chimayo, and Abiquiu. We were a bit overly ambitious and we only made it to one pueblo, but in the Abiquiu area, we visited more than we had originally thought. Bud is going to blog about our visit to San Ildefonso in the morning, so I'll share about some of the other things we did today. After we left the pueblo, we decided that we wouldn't have time to also visit Nambe Pueblo, where our main goal was to see the waterfall. Instead we drove by that exit and headed to El Sanctuario de Chimayo, which was undergoing a variety of construction projects.
The story goes that in 1810, Don Bernardo Abeyta was worshipping during Holy Week and saw a light coming from the hills near the Santa Cruz River. He followed it to the source and saw that the light was coming from the ground. He dug a hole and found a crucifix, they say. He left it there and went for other men to come and confirm what he had found. The crucifix was three times taken to the church at nearby Santa Cruz. Three times it disappeared and was discovered back at Chimayo. Taking this as a sign that the crucifix should remain where it was found, a chapel was built there, which now displays the crucifix above the altar. However, this chapel has a reputation for much more - it has been called the "Lourdes of America" as many people claim to have been cured after visiting the chapel. They say the cures began after the crucifix was found. Now, a hole in the floor of a side-room of the chapel is supposed to be where the crucifix was originally found and it is filled with "holy dirt." Believers can take away the dirt - either in bags or containers they bring or in containers available at the gift shop - and use it to inspire cures for themselves or others. One woman told us that she had heard of someone being cured of her arthritis and even a broken camera working after it was sprinkled with the dirt.
Whether you believe in the story of the crucifix or the miraculous cures, it is a charming location visited by up to 300,000 people a year, especially during Holy Week. Another room off the main chapel is filled with a rack of crutches - apparently no longer needed by their owners - and pictures of people or momentos, some it seems who may have been cured and others in remembrance of those who have died. The displays of baby shoes on one side of the room and of photos of members of the armed services were especially touching. Outside, everywhere you can find crosses tucked into the chain-link fence or on trees. After tucking some holy dirt into a purchased container, we fed the local horse an apple and headed to Abiquiu. On the way we stopped at a weaving shop, where the Trujillo family has been creating this form of art for eight generations - but that's another story!
On the way to Abiquiu, we had to pull over numerous times to snap photos of the amazing scenery. Red rocks thrust themselves towards the sky. We had to stop to see the Chama River as it flowed near the highway. It was easy to see why artists like Georgia O'Keeffe have been so enchanted by this landscape. We saw Georgia's Pedernal that she adored from her home at Ghost Ranch. We saw dark clouds building in the sky and preparing to bring life to the landscape. It was hard to keep the car moving when it would have been easy to pull over and just watch the land and sky change with the light.
It was a busy day and tomorrow's plans have already changed. We had optimistically planned to drive to Crownpoint for the rug auction. But realizing that it would be about a 400-mile round trip, coming back late at night, has made us decide to do something more local. But Saturday will certainly be the International Folk Art Market!
Posted by Cheryl Fallstead
Explore! New Mexico