Saturday, September 24, 2011

Exploring Latin Roots in Colorado and New Mexico

Old-fashioned drug store in Las Vegas, New Mexico
In the spring, I had a few days to cram in a visit to the areas of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico where the Latin presence is significant. I was delighted to find all manner of cultural sights and curiosities, including this drug store in Las Vegas, New Mexico, which is a few miles from one of the exits of I-25, which connects Albuquerque and Denver. The drug store boasted an old-fashioned soda fountain with all manner of memorabilia, but it also had an updated menu with the now-popular cold coffee drinks. Las Vegas also had a music store frequented by many locals, where it was possible to learn about the New Mexican musicians that keep Spanish-speaking traditions alive in the area.

Other places I visited in the area had similar surprises: San Luis, Colorado, with its Way of the Cross on a hill overlooking the town; Taos, New Mexico, located near several ski resorts and Native American pueblos; La Veta, Colorado, the northern entrance to the Highway of Legends that passes through the area of the Spanish Peaks; Trinidad, Colorado, on the opposite end of the Highway of Legends, featuring many restored buildings and the town's name prominently displayed on a sign on the top of one of its overlooking mountains; and Chimayรณ, New Mexico, called the Lourdes of America because of its fame as a site for healings, not to mention Albuquerque and its museums dedicated to Latin American and Native American cultures.

Chiles drying outside a store in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Two weeks' time would not have been enough to sample all that the region has to offer, let alone the few days that I spent there. Nonetheless, I left very satisfied with what I was able to visit, and met friendly people wherever I went.
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