Santa Fe: New Mexico’s spiritual jewelBottom Highlights, Online Only Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
By Jason Coleman
Visionaries, artists and healers allow Santa Fe to represent herself as a one-of-a-kind beauty. With beautiful neighbors like Albuquerque, she is surrounded by intriguing places. However, Santa Fe really is the jewel of the desert.
Located in the heart of the desert, it’s best to visit during the spring or early summer months. Flying into Albuquerque is relatively easy and inexpensive if tickets are booked a few weeks in advance. Total ride time between the two areas is around an hour. A rental car from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is necessary for the traveler who wants to be his own guide; however there is an amazing rail system that links the two destinations as well. Both are fairly-priced options with the rail system being the best bargain.
Spending a little time in each location is recommended. Due to my frequent travels I have seen nearly all the seasons in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. In combination with weather similarities, each share a variety of amazing outdoor murals revealing a part of the art scene in New Mexico. The adobe architectural style inspires awe in dreamscapes and sunsets and sidewalk cafés bring visitors back to reality. However, the folklore of Native American culture always seems to lead people directly into the desert for spiritual guidance and healing.
Although New Mexico offers a variety of outdoor activities, quaint villages and endless culture the real draw to this area is spirit. Built in 1781, the Santuario de Guadalupe, honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, is the oldest standing church in the U.S. Its home lies along the banks of the Santa Fe River. In 2008, the church received a remarkable gift from Mexico City; a twelve foot high sculpture that towers over a square dedicated to pilgrims. Vases of daily flowers as “offerings”, hundreds of rolled “intentions” and handwritten prayers are placed throughout the square, and an inlaid bronze Holy Rosary Walk in the pavement surrounds the statue.
Spiritual centers and alignment have been a part of this region for thousands of years. That tradition continues today. One such center, the Heart-Path Retreat Center on Destierro Trail in Santa Fe, allows a visitor to re-align themselves. The owner, Silvana Pagani, has built this outstanding center with only a contractor. No architect was needed. This private property borders sacred Native American land and covers seventeen acres. There are lodging facilities, breathtaking views, meditation rooms, a temple, gardens and countless sacred shrines with sites for contemplation. The Center is the home of “Heart-Path Realignment,” a profoundly powerful and deeply transformational healing approach taught exclusively at the Center and in four different languages (English, Spanish, German, and French). The Powerline Workout is a big draw for the yoga enthusiast and is offered exclusively at the Center. Visit heartpathretreatcenter.com for more information and photos. The Center also hosts weddings, special events and celebrations.
As mentioned previously, while lodging at the Heart-Path Retreat Center, it’s a great idea to have a rental car, especially if you are only staying for a long weekend. If you are taking the more intensive courses, workouts and healings, the train is a great substitute for traveling between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, since most of your time will be spent at the Center. While driving, I found the outdoor murals and art scene of the areas captivating. I couldn’t help but pull over and park. Walking around the cities to take photos was very meditative in itself and I counted at least thirty murals between the two cities. Many were the length of the side of a building and each mural was very intricate and detailed and some captured the historical references to the areas while others focused on the Native American lore and spirituality.
Finally, an artistic city wouldn’t be complete without a vibrant music and dance scene! Music and dance are arts in themselves and Albuquerque and Santa Fe both share a vibrant tango scene. The Tango Club of Albuquerque (abqtango.org) host milongas. These dance events include music, food and a dance space for around $10. A perfect evening event at a low cost and a great resource for adding some culture into your trip to the New Mexico region. With amazing teachers such as Travis Webb offering beginner classes at local art galleries, you can even practice and learn the basics before attending a milonga. If being a spectator and not a participant is your idea of experiencing the arts, there are also pow wow gatherings, folk/bluegrass festivals and professional mariachi events in both cities.
A trip to New Mexico and the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe will leave you feeling like you’ve left the United States. However, you’ll still have plenty of money in your pocket. Relatively cheap travel and affordable accommodation make Santa Fe a great weekend retreat or ideal for a full-length vacation. Tapping into the arts scene, culture, variety dining and spirituality are all options in these desert cities. It’s important to remember that a journey can truly heal whatever ails a soul.
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