Antonio Jose Martinez

Antonio Jose Martinez

In 1540, Spanish conquistador Francisco de Coronado led an expedition into what is now New Mexico looking for gold and silver reaching Taos on August 29.  Spanish colonization of the region started after 1598, Taos in 1615.  The name “Taos” is an adaptation of the Tewa Indian word “Towih,” meaning “red willows.”  It became the Town of Taos on May 1, 1796.  Antonio Jose Martinez (1793-1867) lived through the Spanish (1793-1820), Mexican (1821-1846), and American periods of New Mexican history.  He was an educator who established a primary school and later a college preparation course, a publisher who printed books for his school and a regional newspaper, a political leader, and a parish priest (1826-1858).  He is recognized with a statue by Huberto Maestas in the Taos Plaza where evenings concerts are held Thursday evenings.  The 531st Air Force Band of the Texas Air National Guard played during our visit.  Some members of other bands such as Illinois joined in for the two hour concert.  We enjoyed an inspiring professional performance.  Earlier in the day we took a trolley tour that introduced us to Taos and included a stop at the Taos Pueblo previously reported on.  We learned that the Hacienda de los Martinez Museum was originally a major trade center that brought together diverse people.  Another stop was at the San Francisco de Asis Church famous from an Ansel Adams photograph of the smooth curves at the rear of the church.  The lighting did not allow me to mimic his masterful work.  In 1898, two young artists, Ernest Blumenshein and Bert Phillips, were touring the West and decided to settle in Taos.  Later, with four other artists they formed the Society of Artists which has evolved to this mecca for artists.  Art is everywhere in Taos.  George Chacon’s El Santero mural memorializes the creators of sacred artifacts.  A bed and breakfast had a colorful garage door along with a colorful front door.  I was surprised to learn that English author D. H. Lawrence visited and died in Taos.  Conservationist Aldo Leopold worked in nearby Carson National Forest.  We stayed at the distinctive El Monte Sagrado which is located only a half mile from the Taos Plaza.  We enjoyed a great meal in their restaurant.  We had tortilla soup and nachos at the La Fonda of Taos restaurant and a late night snack of a taco salad and chili releno at Doc Martin’s Restaurant.  Doc Martin, who arrived in the 1890s, was the first physician.  The coyote fence protecting many homes and ranches was new to me.

Backside of an Earthship Biotecture

Backside of an Earthship Biotecture

We left town on Highway 64 so that we could see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  This suspension bridge crosses the deep gorge of the Rio Grande about seven miles west of Taos.  Earthship Biotecture, a few miles further, has about 60 homes built into the earth and/or using natural and recycled materials such as tires and bottles.  Many homes are quite whimsical in their appearance.  These homes use solar/thermal heating and cooling, solar and wind electric power, water harvesting, and contained sewage treatment.  One home, the “Euro” Earthship, was for sale, a mere $369,000 for three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Taos is one of the most interesting cities in the United States.

Advertisements