The legend of Taos Pueblo:
The pueblo was founded over a thousand years ago by a great chief who, tracking an eagle, led his people up a swift moving stream to the base of the mountain. The majestic bird then let fall two plumes, one landing on each side of the Rio Pueblo. Here the people constructed their new homes out of adobe. The two main structures are Htauma (north) five stories high and eleven rooms wide, and Huakwima (south) also five stories high. Both structures are of similar age. They are believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities and the largest existing multistoried pueblos in the United States.
And now the story of when we visited the pueblo in our car . . . by accident. It was several years ago, and I was driving. I must tell some back-story here. When we travel, I tend to do all the driving while hubby rages. It’s safer that way. Anyway, because of this I move slowly and take in a lot of scenery, especially in small villages and towns with lots to see so I don’t miss anything.
I’ve been known to drive the wrong way on one-way streets, especially when I’m the only car in town. People shout at me from the sidewalk as I drive contentedly along taking in old buildings and historical monuments. Being from the South and all, I wave back as I go. The polite thing to do. Sometimes I’ll find a place to turn around and go the other way. Sometimes I’ll just back up so I’ll be traveling the right way.
Segue to New Mexico and Taos, which is a lovely town simply crammed with plenty of sights to see as I drove. The pueblo of course is not in town, which is there for us tourists. Driving, looking, stopping occasionally to take pictures, I must have wandered astray. And that is how I managed to miss the sign that stated, “no vehicles allowed in the pueblo.” Soon a fine looking young man in a uniform began to shout and wave at me. I waved back and asked how he was doing? Then I noticed a man in uniform in a car with some very official looking lights. He stopped me, and kindly told me that I was in a restricted area with my car.
My husband at this point decided it best not to rage, at me because that never works, or at the young men. I apologized profusely and removed myself, my husband and my car from the pueblo. They remained kind, but I supposed that was because I’m from the South. It was one of my more embarrassing moments.
Living in Arkansas, we have the opportunity to claim being Southern or Western, depending on what’s going on and where we are at the moment. It’s strange living here, and I never noticed that until recently. My cousin, who lives in the San Luis Valley of Colorado calls me a flat-lander and I laugh, because we call the Ozarks mountains. I was once told that Arkansas isn’t the west or even close to it, disregarding Judge Isaac Parker, the US Marshals headquartered in Fort Smith, just about 40 miles south of us, or all those outlaws who used to flee into Indian Territory about 40 miles west whenever the law got after them. Belle Starr and daughter Pearl lived in Fort Smith a lot.
I myself claim whichever serves me best. I like being from the South. People enjoy the accent and sometimes even make fun of the way we live. Like, do you have indoor plumbing? When we moved to New York for a few years, we were often asked that, among a few other interesting questions. Eventually, I learned to put those folks on as much as I figured they were putting me on.
Then, I like being from the West. Nothing is more romantic than a cowboy and his horse. You’d be surprised at the conversations that crop up at parties simply because we live in the West.
If you’re ever in Arkansas, visit the National Historical Park in Fort Smith. Soon, there will be a museum there dedicated to the US Marshals of the Western District. If you’re in New Mexico don’t forget to go to Taos, but pay attention to the signs.