We're at San Ildefonso Pueblo at 9:30 in the morning. It's early and still. No one'sa about. Before we left, we learned many of the women had been rehearsing late the evening before for a ceremonial dance and probably had slept in.
When we think "pueblo," many of us picture Taos with its three and four stories of adobe buildings accessed by ladders. Here there are groupings of modest adobe houses, many of which have wooden sheds with metal roofs. Around the plaza are larger adobe homes -- connected like townhouses. Instead of ladders to the second story, there's a broad staircase. In the plaza there's a large ceremonial kiva. It too has a stairway leading to the roof. Entry into the kiva is by ladder from the roof.
The pueblo sits on a rise of land less than a mile from the Rio Grande. Photos from 1889 show no trees, so the thick bosque of cottonwoods along the river is only a century old -- pretty old for any of us -- and the trees are lofty and wide. Cheryl thought she heard the river babbling but it was only the wind in the dancing leaves of the cottonwood.
The pueblo's church is a replica of the original built in 1620 and destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt 40 years later. The ruin was demolished by a 1910 earthquake. The present church was completed in 1968.
We stopped by the government building where there's a museum featuring the black-on- pottery Maria Martinez made famous. We alswo visited several of the artists in their pottery shops. I was particularly lured toward Adelphia Martinez's shop both by the "Open" sign and the fragrance of bacon her daughter was cooking for the grandkids. Almost everyone we met was gracious and welcoming. But they must sometimes chaff at being the focus of tourists who may not realize this is their home and not some exhibit in a museum.
We met a couple from Japan making a three-week tour of the Southwest. After telling us where they'd been and where they're going, Cheryl mused they'd been more places she has.
Perhaps the highlight of the tour was our visit to the Cottonwood Trading Post, which was a gallery showing pottery, jewelry, paintings, and fiber art of Puebloans, though concentrating on those from San Ildefonso. The artwork is exquisite and I wanted one of each for my home. Too bad for my it's far beyond my budget.
We thought we'd spend maybe an hour but lingered and absorbed the culture of San Ildefonso for three hours.
Posted by Bud Russo
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Explore! New Mexico searches the state for interesting stories to tell our listeners and readers - and now our blog followers! We are currently producing a series of multi-media podcasts for the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau about interesting events and places to visit. You can view them at our YouTube channel. Be sure to visit our website where you can get even more ideas about where to travel in the Land of Enchantment.