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On the road again Canada and the US Dec 2011-Feb 2012 - Observations, musings and random thoughts jotted down mostly during loooong train and bus trips.


USA | Wednesday, 21 March 2012 | Views [2223] | Comments [1]

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Alighting the train at Lamy, a blip on the train line between Los Angeles and Chicago, I wait for the baggage cart outside an old station building with two young men holding guitars, on a college holiday trip to Santa Fe.

Behind the station are two houses, a boarded up adobe church and a restaurant/bar with a couple of jaunty umbrellas above empty tables on the porch. No signs of life – not even a dog – the only reason for the hamlet’s existence is the train line in and out.

The boys are picked up by a young woman in a van and I wait by the shuttle bus with two couples off the Chicago train. They are dressed in smart city garb and probably on their way to their second or third houses in Santa Fe.

The confused old man driving the shuttle drops me at Santa Fe’s only hostel, a jumble of crumbling adobe buildings on Cerillos Avenue, one of the town’s main arteries, bordered by an untidy collection of fast-food bars, a tattoo parlour, film technicians’ office and a mechanic’s workshop.

The hostel, which according to the owner, has been de-listed from Lonely Planet, is run by a quirky character  who somehow manages to keep it going.

 Every morning each guest must sign up for a chore – unless excused  by some whim of the management – before partaking of a breakfast cobbled together from an assortment of foods, “donated” by local stores. In reality, most are out of date and I suspect the spoils of dumpster-diving!

The next morning I arrive at the bus-stop just as two large men push and shove another, smaller, man, emptying his bag into the street. I spy a woman in the back of the bus shelter and approach her.

“If you don’t stand by the road, I’ll have to” she whispers “The bus won’t stop otherwise.”

The men disperse, only for the largest of the aggressors to re-appear and approach us.

“Did you see where that guy went?” he demanded, looming over us.

“We weren’t really taking any notice, but I think that way” I said, motioning vaguely across the road, away from where the victim had actually fled.

He strode off, all misplaced testosterone, and thankfully the bus arrived before he could return.

“There were three hundred murders in Albuquerque last year – it’s not so bad here, but this is where I’d hideout if someone was after me.” The woman offered.

Carole seemed to want to attach herself to me for the journey and proceeded to spill her life story – her estranged family in Hawaii, abandoned artistic career, ill-health, and quest for a soul-mate. She seemed fragile and sad but after chatting for a while and agreeing to meet for a coffee later that day, she flashed me a smile as the bus arrived In the charming town plaza.

Santa Fe New Mexico is quaint and, save for the tourists swarming down Canyon Road and the near-silent line of vendors at the Native American market in the Plaza, seemingly deserted. It’s obviously one of those towns where life simmers below the surface, and repays staying a while.

©FMPDH 2012

Tags: amtrak, new mexico, santa fe, southwest chief



Well done. Excellent stuff - succinct, evocative and plenty of personality (yours and others) showing through. Me likes a lot

  Paul Greenway Apr 25, 2012 12:01 PM

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