Emmy & Maggie in the Southwest travel blog

Years ago Plaza vendors wore Native American dress and sat on blankets,...

This squat boy enjoyed the bustle of the Plaza.

At Burro Alley I took pictures of three mildly wackadoo tourists and...

"Lucchese." It sings on the tongue. If I marry rich, I want...

I wish I could have whipped out the camera in time to...

"How much is that doggie in the window?" It took me a...

The Santa Fe Plaza looked much as it did when I first saw it 18 years ago. I remember women sitting on blankets, looking hungry, with hungry-looking children or babies at their sides. Today vendors sat on crates and drank from water bottles. I wonder if they're waiting for tourists to leave so they can check their cell phones.

In one shop I perused a rack of clothes with prices from $100 to more than $1,000. Later, a shopkeeper asked me if I didn't think those prices were reasonable. Reasonable for whom? I wanted to say.

Lucchese: major, major drool factor for boots, the mecca of mecca. Lucchese is the kind of store where they don't greet me because they know I don't belong. For once, I stand in awe and don't require acknowledgement.

In the Santa Fe Visitor's Guide, I learn that Lew Wallace was governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1878 to 1881. He wrote the classic "Ben Hur" in the Palace of the Governors office at the same time he was chasing Billy the Kid. I can picture it:

"Governor, they've spotted the Kid 100 miles south. Should I have the Cavalry saddle up?"

"I'm in the middle of the chariot scene! Come back in an hour."

"But, Governor . . . ."

"God dammit, boy, quit interrupting when I'm writing. Now go away and shut that door."

Tonight I visited briefly with a friend of a friend who lives near the Plaza. As I drank hot berry tea, his daughter brought out her ball Python, Garbanzo. They feed Garbanzo a mouse every week. I cringed, thinking of my hamster. Santa Feans are very kind. This fellow had only half an hour to spare, but he welcomed me warmly.

Speaking of mice, Maggie wasn't the only rodent in the house last night. A mouse, or more likely several, enjoyed my packages of instant oatmeal and hot chocolate. My landlord was horrified. Not to worry, I said. I don't mind rodents.

I do mind that the TV wasn't working. I must have pressed a wrong button when I turned it off last night, probably because "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" is so disgusting. The landlord's husband tried to fix it, but he didn't. Somehow, I figured it out, just in time to watch "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

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