I have been longing to come here for so long that it feels just natural to land in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Flying over from New York City, the third stop on my #CreativElenaRTW trip, I enjoy taking in the beauty of the vast Central American plains before crossing the soaring, snow-covered Rockies. What a sight!
And we continue talking altitude: The city of Santa Fe is located at over 2.000 metres above sea level (or 7.000 feet, as the Americans keep saying 😉 ), making for a kind of semi-arid, dry mountain climate. With the recent cold snap of the late fall season, however, I am actually greeted by snowy patches on the ground that do their best to stand out against the uniform-coloured adobe houses of Santa Fe. Santa Fe … To me, the city has always had a calling. It was here that the first ever Creative Tourism Conference was held in 2008, the very year that also marked my first interaction with creative travel in New Zealand. Ever since, I have closely been following the local Santa Fe Creative Tourism strategy, from its early beginnings to its fruition as one of the world’s leading networks for “bridging the gap between artists and travellers”, as dear Rebecca Wurzburger, the city’s former Mayor Pro-Tem and mastermind behind Santa Fe’s creative tourism development, likes to call it. You can thus imagine my joy of being here, finally, as a creative traveller myself! And I shall start by telling you about my very first experience with Creative Tourism Santa Fe:
A tin smith crafts workshop with Sharon Candelario as well as a visit to Taos Pueblo, introducing me to local Native American history and allowing for a better appreciation of the “sense of place”.
This one goes out to dear Sharon Candelario and her wonderfully charming, making-me-feel-at-home family! Her brother is simply referred to as “The Chile Man” (and I shall tell you a little later why!), her father makes sure we keep the fire going behind our backs, and her mum drops by eagerly asking about our wellbeing. So sweet! Sharon herself is a tin smith artist, who swapped her career as a social worker for becoming a “self-determined, woman entrepreneur some 13 years ago”, she tells me over introducing me to some impressive black-etched tin smithing pieces she has created. Her studio at Medina Art Gallery is located in a tiny little town called Chimayó, some 30 kilometres north of Santa Fe, mostly known for the adjacent Sanctuary & Chapel – and Sharon Candelario, of course!
“Santa Fe Creative Tourism has worked really well for me“, she says upon asking her about previous workshop experiences with travellers from all over the world. “I often run classes, and I enjoy teaching. Certainly, through the website, people look at my video and get a better idea of what to expect.” If you are interested to hear & see even more of the exceptional art that Sharon is creating, please have a look at this video about “Traditional Tin Smithing with Sharon Candelario“:
“From Chimayó, take the High Mountain Road to Taos, and make sure to visit Taos Pueblo..!”
Travelling with the locals being one of my major themes for travel tips & inspiration here on this travel blog, I take care to “do as I am told”. You get so many wonderful ideas from just talking to people on the road! As I head on over the mountain slopes from Chimayó to Taos, I find myself listening to road songs on the radio – cheesy Spanish love songs, as it is here in New Mexico! Soon after, I drop down again and onto the foothills and plains of Taos, whose native American settlement Taos Pueblo regularly welcomes visitors to explore a vital part of United States history. Or did you know that even the city of Santa Fe, besides Taos Pueblo to the north, counts as the US’ second oldest and has a moving history of first Spanish, then American and of course also Native American settlement?
Looking for further inspiration on what to do & see in & around Santa Fe, New Mexico? Here is my hand-picked selection of creative foodie travel tips, as shown on this Flickr Photo Gallery:
Disclaimer: I have been invited by Santa Fe Creative Tourism to join Sharon Candelario’s Tin Smith Workshop. All opinions are my own.