Up early and out the door by 7:45am, we quickly gobbled up breakfast at The Range and purchased three bags of ice for our cooler at the local grocery store. The cooler has been a blessing. It’s great to have a fresh supply of cold water for the doggies and their water bowl and cools drinks for us. The drive north to Espanola area, north of Santa Fe, was attractive and a lot more enjoyable to be in than around the Albuquerque area; there were trees and interesting land formations. After a few reroutes, we found the entry to the Puye Indian Cliff Dwellings on the Santa Clara Pueblo Reservation.
Did you know the difference between “Pueblo” vs “Tribe”? I sure didn’t until this day. Our guide informed us, all Native Americans who have been heavily influenced by the Spanish use Pueblo. All the others… Tribe.
We purchased tickets to take the entire tour at a convenience store just outside the entry sign to sight: dwellings and ruins. The tour was scheduled for two hours. We ended up spending over three hours with our guide. It was money & time well spent… highly educational. As we drove seven miles to the parking lot, I said to the kids, “I hope our guide will share the spiritual side of the Pueblo besides the archaeological one.” Our guide, in an orange shirt in the pictures, was chalked full of information and was more than willing to answer any questions on the sight and Native Americans in general. She also shared the spiritual challenges the Puye face with having the Pueblo beliefs and the Catholic religion combined.
Interestingly even to this day, the Pueblo is a patriarchal society. No women are allowed to be part of the Indian counsel and government. Also to be part of the Pueblo, one has to have two generations in a row of male descendants in order to be registered as a Santa Clara. She stated the Pueblo’s registrations are declining rapidly because many of the women are marrying outside the tribe, thus their children are ineligible to register.
We had a bit of time before our tour began, so we looked at the dwellings with the provided binoculars and went through the exhibit room. I also took some photos of the kids. Zachary was sporting his slick cowboy hat and boots. What a handsome guy! We walked and climbed up steep ladders to the top. Each rung was over 16 inches apart. There were three tiers to reach the top.
Our guided shared the openings to the homes were originally smaller than what I photographed; smaller due to Erosion from natural elements and people going in and out of the caves. She said her people during the time of occupation, 1100-1200s, were small–about 4.5 feet tall. She stated the holes were no larger than 12 inches in diameter.
The rows of small holes above the bigger openings were from the wooden poles used for the facia; enabling the family to put an exterior rocked dwelling. Briana guessed the holes were for light or air.
There was a ritual were the women would throw clay at the dwellings to keep them intact. Since the Pueblo moved closer to water around the 1200s, the clay ritual stopped and the exterior dwelling slowly has eroded and fallen down hill into the reservoirs that were used to collect rain and snow melt. In the summer, once the reservoirs dried up, the women would have to walk over three miles a day to collect water in the Santa Clara Creek.
There were many petroglyphs. The spiral was found often at the site. The guide informed us it signified a map and how they connected with others. We also got the opportunity to see our first Alien petroglyph in person. That was pretty darn cool! Many times during the walk the kids would easily be distracted by the local small lizard. No matter how hard they tried, they never did catch one.
A plant I photographed was the reason the Spanish first thought the Santa Claras and surrounding Pueblos had blue corn. The women would take the branch, burn it and use the ash for salt. The ash had a blue tint; adding it to their corn made the corn look blue. It is called the Salt Bush. There were many artifacts we were able to touch; mainly fragments. Our guide said pots would have been as large as four feet tall; as large as the kids. Obsidian and other flint rock from nearby mountains were in the fragments.
At the top of the dwellings, we walked through the ruins and descended into a Kiva, a place of worship and gathering. We met the Pueblo engineers who monitor the water and air quality due to Los Alamos, where the govt does all kinds of testing. They expressed the need to monitor the environment to keep their people safe because they are not alerted by the govt when to be concerned. (There was a large explosion that occurred while they were talking. It made our guide nervous.)
On our way back to the trailer, we stopped in Santa Fe to have lunch and walk around a bit. The cathedrals were beautiful, the shops were fun and lunch was a yummy Mexican restaurant next to the train station. Our favorite shop was the trading post established in 1603. The lady inside told us of its ghosts, old well and start as a barn. She even showed us the original purchase papers. It was in Spanish, but we could make out the date. With a bit too much sun than planned on our skin, we headed back to the trailer around 7pm. Tomorrow is to bring 90s and the best for us is Mike! He will be arriving around 3pm. Once we pick him up, we are heading to Monument Valley in Arizona for a sunrise photo opt. Yeah!
…Click on any image to enlarge. Or better yet… click on the first photo and scroll through them all.