Magical Santa Fe & surroundings

We arrived at the Lodge, Santa Fe (founded as a Spanish colony in 1610) on Saturday afternoon146

104069 103 102 099The intention was to be there for 4 days but we stayed for 8 – there was so much to see and experience and as a resident said to me ‘It is a vortex….’. My reason for going there was to meet Donna – my friend for 6 years since we met on a forum for women recovering from narcissistic abuse.

We had never met in the flesh. Donna arrived at the hotel to pick me and Alfie up and off we went to the Posada hotel – a beautiful old building in central Santa Fe with fabulous art work. The building has old secret passages than run underneath the hotel – the original owner created them so that he could run through them with his gold if he was ever under attack. This was thought to be an urban myth, until a crane hired to do some work fell into one of the tunnels!184 020

So what was it like saying a hello in the flesh to a friend I had never met? Wonderful!

Donna and I had supported each other for 6 years, so that it was so easy to carry on the conversations in person. Both of us have come a long way since our unfortunate choices of partners so all of that was done and dusted and we could get on with the business of enjoying ourselves. Here she is in the hotel with Alfie.

Donna told me about Ortiz park, where you can walk with your dog off leash across the hills. Sunday morning, bright and early, I set off with Alfie to find it.106 107 001

We arrived at the park just at the time a lovely group of people who meet every morning at 8.10 a.m. with their dogs were setting off. And so it was that for 9 consecutive mornings I became part of the group.


Alfie enjoyed meeting all of the dogs and rapidly become part of the pack: as usual walking up in front. One of the dogs – a border collie mix called Ellie who belonged to Micky – looked just like him.

Then there were a couple of elderly dogs that managed to keep up with the others and melt my heart – such as the 16 year old seen here sniffing Alfie’s bum who belongs to Kim and Michael, 2 nurses who walked their 3 dogs with the group every morning.

We had a couple of nights when it snowed, leaving a light dusting in the morning 165 164 163

But day after day  the weather was generally warm and sunny and I learnt for the first time about the importance of humidity.111 153 149 154

Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and sits in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It is at an elevation of 7,198 feet – which is considered high enough for people to suffer from altitude sickness.

Now, I had altitude sickness in Nepal at 12,700 feet so was delighted that I didn’t get it in Santa Fe. What I did get was incredibly dry nostrils! Everybody does – many of my dog-walking friends reported having had nosebleeds when they first arrived.

I had never even thought about low humidity and the effect on my body before I arrived. It is really important to drink a lot of water in these conditions.

183Donna generously invited Michael and me to her house for dinner several times and produced the most amazing food.

She also heard about, and drove us to, the Kagyu Shenpen Kunchab Buddhist Center and Bodhi Stupa. 026 024 027 032We were fortunate to be able to look inside the Stupa that doubles as a shrine room for daily practice.

I was moved to tears to see a photograph of my dearly departed teacher, Akong Rinpoche, and was happy to discuss him and what was happening at my centre, Samye Ling, with the resident Lama.

We returned there on Sunday in order to participate in the Chenrezig puja. This was such an unexpected and delightful experience. The same day, we decided to try out a Mindfulness movement class in town.

Santa Fe is renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture, with its adobe houses – some of the buildings could come straight out of ‘The Lord of the Rings’:

Santa Fe is also known as a creative arts hotbed. Canyon Road is the place to see the most incredible artwork:


007 011 019There are many museums and art galleries in Santa Fe – on Museum Hill and near the plaza. We visited the Georgia O’Keefe Gallery and learnt that the big prints of flowers that she produced are not all as big as people think. They are, of course, as beautiful. There were also lovely photos of the lady herself:131 121 132 143 137 116

International Folk Museum had some outstanding pieces of work:041






















On Museum Plaza there was a delightful sculpture exhibition of women by women073 074


And then there was the church that we visited with the most incredible wooden staircase that was allegedly built by a carpenter called Joseph who took no payment and disappeared as soon as he had made it:149

Donna, Michael and I had a lovely evening at the Vanessi hotel with a restaurant and piano bar where a very kitsch performance by Doug Montgomery takes place three times a week. It was brilliant fun:156 158 161

Whilst at Santa Fe, Michael and I visited a spa one hour North where we enjoyed the mud bath, arsenic pool, swimming pool, iron bath, soda bath and eucalyptus steam room.

In fact, we enjoyed it so much we decided to stay there for 2 nights. 190 001021 186I had never stayed at a spa resort before and the setting was lovely – Alfie enjoyed the morning walks to an old building which is a designated national monument and playing in the stream where he could fetch the sticks I threw him.

We heard the coyotes and owls and other birds and mercifully didn’t come face to face with the local bear.


We also visited an amazing church where children’s shoes were used to decorate the wall of a church, no doubt as a blessing.177 174

It was then time to set off for ghost Ranch, the amazing place that Georgia O’Keefe fell in love with and lived in.