Eventually, my curiosity won. Deb, Barry, the girls and I trekked five minutes from our rental to see the Taos Pueblo. After we paid our entrance fee, and to register my camera and Deb's camera, we were allowed into the ancient community. Having read all those reviews, I knew the best way to to see the city was on a guided tour. Otherwise any questions you had would not be answered. (I don't know how true that was, every person we saw was really nice. But the guide had a lot of information, so I dont regret the tour at all)
Taos Pueblo claims to be the oldest continually inhabited community in the USA. Since I have grown up near St.Augustine, Florida, which boasts the same thing, I can't help but wonder how many places claim this and what criteria they use. Anyway. The native people who live within the walls of the ancient city continue to live the same way their ancestors did. There is no running water or electricity within the walls. (Which explains why most choose to live outside the walls, while still on the reservation)
Our first stop on the tour was San Geronimo Church. Built in 1850, it is one of the youngest buildings in the community. The ceiling is lines with beautiful carved wood, called vigas. The walls are thick adobe, natural yearround insulation. The saints lining the front of the church are much older than the building. They were brought by the original Spanish missionaries. The saints were saved by some of the Pueblo women in the attack and subsequent attack of one of the older church buildings. The women literally covered them with their bodies as the building collapsed around them. The Virgin Mary is the central figure behind the altar, and the Pueblo People change her garments according to the seasons. I'm telling you all of this, but I was not allowed to take photos inside of the church. All I can show you is the outside.
|San Geronimo Church|
Our next stop was the cemetary. This was started in 1619, using Indian slave labor as they were forced into Catholocism. (60% practice today- 100% still observe native beliefs as well). The first 2 churches were built here. Natives enter the cemetary on the day of their loved ones funeral, on feast days, and on the anniversary of the loved one's death. Other than that, they do not enter the grounds.
|The remains of the last church|
The Hlaauma (North House) and Hlaukkwima (South House) are the main two structures in Taos Pueblo. They're believed to be over 1000 years old. Originally, the only way you could enter was through ladders up to holes in the roof. This helped them keep out invaders, wild animals, and preserve indoor temperatures. They're made entirely of adobe. (earth, straw, and water mixed and poured into forms) Once they dry in the sun, they are very durable. Vigas are used their celings.
|Hlaauma (North House)|
You can see the Sangro De Cristo Mountains in the background. The Blue Lake is there, which has very special religious significance for the Pueble People. Their creation stories center arond this lake.Red Willow Creek River flows from this lake out of the mountains. It is their sole source of drinking water (so we were asked not to walk in it).
|A horno (adobe oven)|
|inside one of the shops|
|Kaya watching the Red Willow Creek River|
|One of the houses just inside the walls|
|Bella in another shop|