Please stay with the group!

Before visiting the US Southwest, I knew very little about pueblos, Puebloans or ancient pueblo cave dwellings. In brief:  Puebloans are Native Americans who share agricultural, material and religious practices. There are currently 19 Pueblos that are still inhabited.

The Puye Cliff complex, not far from Santa Fe, New Mexico, is situated on Santa Clara Pueblo land and comprises cliff dwellings and, on the mesa top, the ruins of a big village.

These dwellings were inhabited roughly from 900 to 1580, and the site makes for a very interesting glimpse into ancient pueblo culture.

The location is beautiful, with stunning views of the Rio Grande Valley and mountains in the distance.

The two levels of cliff dwellings and the mesa top can be accessed by paths, stairways and ladders. Since I’m afraid of heights, I didn’t feel particularly attracted by the prospect of having to climb tall ladders, so I was very pleased to hear that the guided visit that would suit us best time-wise started with a jeep ride to the mesa top.

The first thing our guide said was “Please stay with the group!”

It seemed quite difficult to get lost on the flat mesa top, so someone said something witty. “We have quite a few snakes up here”, the guide continued. Everybody stayed with the group.

We didn’t have to climb any ladders to get up, but we were supposed to use the ladders to get back down.

I had taken it for granted that transport would be provided also downhill, so I panicked a little. You can see an example ladder in the photo below. This is one of the least scary ones, and had it been only for this one, I wouldn’t have hesitated.

But I did get a ride down and I wasn’t alone in the jeep either.

Whether you are fond of climbing ladders or not, I warmly recommend a visit to the Puye cave dwellings to learn about ancient pueblo culture and to marvel at the vistas from the mesa top. But remember to stay with the group!


The splash in the back

On a lovely warm Sunday afternoon in October last year I discovered the path that follows the coastline along the Cap d’Antibes peninsula on the French Riviera. 

I can’t remember why, but I turned around after a while. Maybe I was hungry, maybe I had forgotten to bring a water bottle, maybe I had something to do later in the afternoon.

On a lovely warm Friday afternoon in November, just a few days ago, I thought that I would take this lovely walk again. I was well prepared and had no intention to turn back this time but to do the full circuit.

Since there was hardly any wind at all I was surprised to see that the sea was a bit agitated. To my great delight the waves formed very photogenic spray when they hit the rocks along the beginning of the path.

As I continued walking the waves became a bit more violent and the splashes, spray and froth were fascinating to look at. I had a great time with my camera!

Time passed (I’m always very slow when walking with my camera) and the sea was getting rougher. I hadn’t had so much fun for a long time!

And ooops! A water hedge appeared next to me!

The path ahead was actually covered in water, I saw on closer inspection, an inspection which was abruptly interrupted:

Ok, I thought, after such a big wave there won’t be another one like that for a while, so there will be enough time to pass this wet part of the path. 

I was hit in the back by an enormous wave and thrown onto the rocks. Luckily I only hurt my leg a little. But of course I was totally soaked, my trainers were filled with water, my hair was dripping. The only thing to do was to get back to the car as fast as possible and go home. People I met were staring at me, probably thinking I had tried to have a swim with my clothes on.

So I didn’t make the full circuit this time either.

But what about the camera around my neck? Strangely enough it seemed ok at first sight, with only a few drops on it, so I felt quite relieved. But it isn’t ok. Salt water must have gotten into it after all. I’m heading to Uganda in two weeks time, it must be fixed by then.


The Swedish connection in Taos

Walking around historic Taos, New Mexico, with a tourist map in my hand I was surprised to spot a Swedish flag, no two!, outside one of these lovely adobe houses that Taos is full of.

Being Swedish I felt a pang of nationalistic nostalgia (normally I’m neither nationalistic nor nostalgic). It was clear that it was an artist’s house, so I was curious not only to find out what the Swedish flags were doing there but also to see the art.

The artist herself, Inger Jirby, gave me a warm welcome and explained that she was born in the very north of Sweden, in Lapland, but that she had lived abroad for a great number of years.

Inger Jirby at her gallery

Find out more about Inger and her colourful and inspiring art: 

Taos is full of art galleries, art tourists and of course artists. Even though it is a small town it can be a little tricky to get an overview of all there is to see and experience, but brochures and magazines are distributed here and there and give guidance. 

In one of these magazines there was a photo of a painting that caught my attention. It was to be found in a very centrally located gallery, The Sage Fine Art Gallery, 

I headed there without further delay. 

Unsurprisingly the painting was even more attractive in the gallery than in the magazine and its modest size would actually make it possible to bring it back home.

It so happened that the painter herself, Carrie Schultz, was the artist on duty on that particular day. Inevitably, when we started talking, the question “Where are you from?” came up at an early stage. When I replied “Sweden“, Carrie started talking perfect Swedish with me! It appeared that she had lived and studied in Sweden and had kept up her Swedish since then. Hats off! 

Carrie Schultz with two of her paintings

We concluded that the painting I liked had been waiting for me to step into the gallery, so I bought it without any further ado. 

It travelled safely with me during the rest of my trip in the US and back to Europe, and it now waiting to be hung. This will happen shortly.

Find out more about Carrie and her art: