The Original Santa Fe

March 3, 2006
Day 156

Picture of dead bodies.

Some dug up graves at the original Santa Fe church.

There isn't much for tourists to do in Santa Fe, so Laura suggested that I check out Cayasta, a small town about an hour and a half away that is near the original location of Santa Fe. A bus dropped me off in front of a museum displaying artifacts from the native settlers here, as well as from the first colonial settlement. The museum was filled with spears, coins, pottery, and murals from a mixture of cultures.

When I finished walking through the museum, I met Angelina, my English-speaking guide. I was the first native English speaker she had all year, so she was a bit nervous, but she ended up doing a fine job of showing me around the area once she learned that I spoke some Spanish.

The first thing we looked at was the church, which doubled as a graveyard. It was filled with the well-preserved bodies of settlers from over 400 years ago. When the area was first excavated fifty years ago, most of the bodies were shellacked with black and red paint to preserve them. The only one that was left alone is now just a pile of dust. The bodies were placed a certain way according to status within the church, and it is now known who most of them were because of the record keeping that the city did.

Next, we saw the remains of the houses of some Portuguese settlers. There wasn't much to look at as the houses have since crumbled, but our last stop was to some replica houses from the first civilization. It seemed that the settlers lived well with lots of food, big dining rooms, and luxurious bedrooms. Too bad Santa Fe became too dilapidated after a major flood and had to be moved to its present location, brick by brick.

I still had a little time before my bus arrived, so I had some mate with Angelina and her coworkers, and she showed me around Cayasta a bit. It's a small city where everyone knows everyone, so it had a certain amount of charm to it. I actually enjoy visiting small cities more than big ones, but I wouldn't want to live in one. I think it'd get boring after the first few days.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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