Mind opened by the very long drives between Tennessee and Oklahoma, and Oklahoma to New Mexico (that’s 6 states in 2 days!), I arrived in Taos.
What do YOU know about Taos? I had some vague impressions of artists and writers, combined with images of the Southwest landscape that were stark and foreign. Something told me that it would be a good place, though.
I stayed at another AirBnB listing, the host of which really made the experience less about Taos and more about human connection. I enjoyed exploring the town at my leisure (which meant in fits and starts, as it was pretty cold, feathery snow still dusting the ground).
I found the Taos Pueblo closed for repairs (apparently a common thing), but the Plaza and many shops and galleries were open and showed the local style of historical pueblo architecture anyway. Kit Carson‘s home is here, a ridonkulously huge bridge is 10 miles west of here, and many homes-turned-museums pay tribute to the area’s pioneer past.
I got in after dark, but the next morning, after a spectacular sunrise, I stepped out to explore some small offshoots from the main drag, Route 64. This included a stop at The World Cup Cafe, which had scrumptious organic scones and delicious Mexican hot chocolate.
It was fascinating to stay in the cafe for some time, as I observed many local neighbors meet, greet, and even hold court. It’s a sunny spot, with bar seats only, and everybody really knows everybody.
I came from what I would call a small town, but this experience had me reconsidering the definition. What constitutes small town, what suburban, what metropolitan? It’s not just population or size of sprawl, it’s more of a feeling of how frequently you’re going to run into people you know.
In Taos, the answer seems to be all the time.
In San Luis Obispo, it was more like once every 3 outings.
I had thought that a small town meant ordinary, confining, repetitive. But here I was seeing eyes light up, jokes being howled over, life-passion projects being shared and discussed. It made me feel a little Grinchy.
Maybe the small town is worthy of reconsideration.
Especially in such a setting.