Tell me about Santa Fe

In thirteen days, I’m going there, for quite a long time. Doing the college thing, so most of my time will be on campus, but…any New Mexico dopers around? Anything in particular worth knowing about my (soon-to-be) home? Do they really, as warned in the freshman info packet, have the plague out there?

They merged with Burlington Northern…
Oh, New Mexico, not the railroad…

Carry on. :wink:

I was in Santa Fe a million years ago, as a kid, and I’m still dreaming of retiring there some day. I’m anxiously awaiting any replies your post generates.

A couple from Santa Fe got the plague, but it’s not like everyone’s wearing masks and dumping bodies into mass graves or anything. It’s borne by rats and these people didn’t happen to have any spare luck to throw at 'em. I’ve not heard anything to be alarmed about.

It’s a rich man’s Las Cruces.

Seriously, I’ve visited Santa Fe several times, but I don’t have any experience living ther. I lived in New Mexico for four years, though. It’s called the “Land of Entrapment” for good reason - despite its statistical shortcomings, the place really has a way of growing on you. You’ll notice a “live and let live” attitude in ABQ/SF/LC (except in Alamogordo and eastern NM, which is culturally more Texan), a gentle blending of Anglo and Hispanic cultures, great food, funky people, an unbeatable landscape, and wonderful weather.

A running joke among my friends was that in eastern New Mexico, residents want to secede from the state, and join Texas. In Southern New Mexico, the population is waiting for the US to collapse, so the Mexicans can reclaim their lost territory and establish Aztlan. In Eastern New Mexico, they’re waiting for the return of the viceroys.

New Mexico is a poor state, something you won’t notice in comfortably middle-class cities like Santa Fe, Albuquerque or Las Cruces. The poverty in some areas off the beaten path can seem overwhelming, almost on a third world level. However, there isn’t really a “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude in the state, and many are quite comfortable in their poverty, often self-imposed, often a result of the fatalism that accompanies New Mexico’s particular form of Catholicism (“The Virgin of Guadalupe made my great grandfather poor, my grandfather poor, and my father poor, so why should I bother?”) I’ve knwon people who gave up high-paying jobs elsewhere in the US, to return to New Mexico and live a low-income lifestyle. It’s really hard to explain.

Santa Fe is very liberal and new-agey, often to a fault. It’s not a college town it shares quite a bit with cities such as Boulder, Madison, Berkeley or Davis. Albuquerque and Las Cruces are somewhat liberal, eastern New Mexico is quite conservative, and Catron County is extremely “cowboy libertarian”, for lack of a beter phrase.

> In Eastern New Mexico, they’re waiting for the return of the viceroys.

I meant “Northern New Mexico”. Pleh.

Bad idea, at least for now. The property values in Santa Fe are sky-high and, in my opinion, massively overvalued. Wait and see if the bubble bursts and the values deflate.

Bunch of freaks up there. Since you are going to St. John’s, I guess you’ll fit right in :wink: .

It’s the landscape aroung Santa Fe that I really like. If you are an outdoors person, it’s a great place. Cycling, hiking, skiing, etc. Since you are active with TKD, I suspect that those sorts of things might interest you. If they do, don’t pass them up, it’s a great place for outdoor sports.

Santa Fe has some nice museums.
My favorite is SITE (contemporary art) and the museum of handcrafted arts (not sure of its name).
The prob with Santa Fe is a lot of the cool things to do are expensive.

That is the vibe I caught off it while passing thru last year. Every little “artist’s studio” had the dream catchers out for sale. Chock full of pretentious crap and home-made ice-cream shoppes. Couldn’t find a place to park and eat, so we kept on goin’. Seemed like a big, overpriced tourist trap. Not my kind of place, no matter how pretty it was.

If you like weird historical stuff, you could visit the Chapel of Loretto–as far as I know it’s free, as is the nearby St. Francis church.

The governor’s mansion is near there and has a museum. People from the local Indian pueblos sit out in front selling jewelry.

The Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains are nearby if you like to go hiking. El Santuario de Chimayo, an old church believed to have healing dirt (no, I’m not making this up) is about 25 miles north of Santa Fe.

I’ve heard rental prices are very high there. Plague is not generally a serious problem, however. Rodents such as ground squirrels and prairie dogs can spread it through their fleas, but it’s rare and you can avoid it by keeping away from rodent colonies. (Yeah, I know prairie dogs are cute, but enjoy them from a distance and don’t try to feed or pet them.) In the 2002 case where a man and woman caught it they had a lot of rodents on their property.

Where are you going to school? My brother went to St. John’s (up on Museum Hill). His verdict: You will bored out of your skull.

If you want to go shopping, head south. I mean it. There’s an outlet something-or-other south of Santa Fe off I-25, and although there is a mall in Santa Fe, you’d probably be better off taking an hour and driving to Albuquerque. That’s the commerece capital of the state.

Or maybe I’m just biased and hate trying to get around in Santa Fe, which manages to make me think that it’s an entire city along the lines of Old Town. And I don’t go down to Old Town for some very good reasons.

Hm. Not inspiring, since I’m headed for St. John’s.

I spent the better part of 9 months in Santa Fe for work. So I wouldn’t consider it as having “lived” there, but I’ll share my observations. First off, I love the place and it is on the “to be seriously considered” list as a place to retire.

Santa Fe is one of these cities/areas that has “many faces”:

  • rich people place to escape to and relax
  • new ager haven
  • tourist destination
  • not-so-rich people place to live
  • artist colony
  • mix of native american, spanish, and the-rest-of-american peoples

I guess what appeals to me most (aside from some of the nicest people I’ve ever met) is that it is still relatively small (retains a small town feel), and it is a quiet, laid back area. So if you are going to college hoping for a party town, you will be in the wrong place.

If you like the outdoors, especially hiking, you will love the area. There are great, beautiful places to hike in the area. The local skiing is good, and Taos is about an hour away. There’s great hiking up by Los Alamos (about 40 minutes away), and its very scenic up there.
I got into all the ancient native american sites starting with Bandelier park. But there are plenty of other sites around there.

Must do’s:

  • Zozobra. The Thursday after Labor Day they have this kick-off to their annual festival. And they do this thing called Zozobra, where they burn this 40 foot puppet. Prior to the burning there are bands and stuff. And there’s now this elaborate pageant before the actual lighting. It is a blast.
  • Drive up to Taos. The view when you pop up from the this canyon up to the Taos plateau is one of the most breathtaking I’ve ever seen. Taos is also a cool town to visit.
  • While you’re out in the Taos area, go out to the Rio Grande gorge bridge.
  • Tomasita’s. Lots of local food restaurants, but this one is one of the preferred by the locals.


  • best burger in town: Zia Diner near downtown. (rest of the food is only “okay”)
  • best steak: Steaksmith (if you go, you have to try the spinach cheese ball appetizer).
  • although it is nice to browse around at least once, the downtown plaza primarily caters to tourists. There are some nice museums down there, though (like the Georgia O’Keefe, which is awesome)

I don’t know where you’re coming from or what you’re used to, but in the winter/spring, the air is REALLY dry. Like static electricity shocks everytime you touch any metal. This was really uncomfortable for me (especially nostril issues). So stock up on the lotion for that season.

There’s tons more, but this is all I can think of right now. If you haven’t seen it, “The Tao of Steve” was shot in and around Santa Fe. And it does kind of convey the atmosphere of the place.

Very interesting. A running joke in El Paso is that we’re really part of New Mexico…at least as far as the folks in Austin are concerned. :rolleyes:

Heh heh. OK, then, first words of advice: Bring yourself a car, if you’re allowed. I think he had a car on campus his first year. It wasn’t cheap to park, but it was very helpful to actually go out. Otherwise, you’re stuck on top of the hill. The problem with St. John’s is that, while it’s close to Santa Fe, it’s not close enough to walk. And the school is so small, you get sick of looking at the same people day after day after day.

On the bright side, I hear Reality is a blast, though I haven’t gone down for it. My other brother has, though. :smiley:

I was very impressed with some parts of the curriculum down there and very unimpressed ith other parts. My bro was a political science major, and ended up transferring. His girlfriend was a classics major, and did the same thing. The one girl I know who did graduate was, last I heard, working at Starbucks. :eek:

I don’t think of El Paso as part of New Mexico, but it doesn’t really seem like Texas either.

Tell me about it. I’ve been to Santa Fe twice in the last year to do a little flying at The Jetwarbird Training Center. I’ll be back in a few months to spend yet another obscene amount of money that I can’t afford. :smack:

I highly doubt this place will be within your budget as a college student, Ninja Chick. But if you come take pictures of me flying their L-39 in October, I’ll buy you lunch at the airport restaurant. Sound good?

I may well take you up on that, Tuck. And then I can show my sister pictures of a cool plane and she’ll be jealous (what with her being a pilot and plane geek and in the air force and whatnot).

on preview: she’s not an AF pilot, but she’s got a private license and flies gliders at the Academy in CO


A saying occasionally around Albuquerque and Santa Fe: “Poor Las Cruces … so far from heaven, so close to El Paso.”