New Mexico: Otherworldly Taos


Located at the foot of the mystical Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos, New Mexico is definitely one of the places our family could consider making our home. I could never get tired of looking at those peaks and the way they change in the different lighting. It’s nice that this is our second look at those mountains on this trip. We had our first look in May when we stayed in Crestone, Colo.

  Rather than jumping right into seeing the official tourist sights, we eased into our week’s stay here by starting out with visiting Baca Park. This spacious site had a great playground for the kids, a peaceful boardwalk trail through wetlands and hardly any visitors.

  We were delighted with Taos Waldorf School, a private K-8 campus which has been going 20 years. There was obviously so much love put into that site- from the wooden treehouse and play structures to the carefully Lazure-painted walls in pastel colors. The tuition was only around $7,500 – lower than most other Waldorf schools we have seen. I attended an anthroposophy study group advertised in the local paper there and appreciated meeting kindergarten teacher Claudia Pfiffner, a native of Switzerland, as well as another couple. Claudia told me the school has struggled and has low attendance but continues to survive thanks to generous donations from the community. I am impressed with what they have pulled off considering the community only has a population of less than 6,000.

  One factor that appeals to Lee and me is the spiritual tone of the town. A look at the paper reveals several meditation groups. Not far away is the Lama Foundation, a spiritual intentional community “dedicated to the awakening of consciousness, spiritual practice with respect for all traditions, service and stewardship of the land.” Unfortunately it is closed to visitors in the fall and winter but I would like to return one day.

  We were able to make a short visit to San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, which dates back to the 18th century and was painted by Georgia O’Keefe and photographed by Ansel Adams. It’s interesting because it’s this relic of the past completely surrounded by the modern town.

  The whole family enjoyed exploring Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been continually inhabited by native people for more than 1,000 years. These are adobe residences that people still live in and that have no running water or electricity. The people get there water from a stream that runs nearby. While you are not allowed to go into the homes, you can go into a few shops that are scattered around. Lee bought some sage and is using it to freshen our car.

I was a little skeptical about whether it would be worth it to check out the Rio Grande Gorge bridge about 20 minutes outside of town. It was definitely worth it- the bridge runs over a deep gorge 600 feet down and the area gives breathtaking views of the mountains. It’s amazing to think how the bridge was ever constructed.

  Theo and I checked out Earthship world headquarters just beyond the bridge. Earthships are funky homes with few right angles that are completely self-sustaining and off the grid. They are solar powered and get water from rainwater. I first heard of an earthship when I saw one at a Hindu ashram in Crestone, Colo. but I thought it was unique to that site. Now I learned that there is a community of 70 earthships near Taos plus two other earthship communities in New Mexico. At the headquarters, Theo and I were allowed to tour a visitor center, watch a short informational movie and look at everything from a distance. It was inspiring seeing alternative ways of living.


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