Today’s plan was to get to the Grand Canyon by sunset and it meant we had to get an early start to the day. We wanted to see the Old Town in Albuquerque since we had read and heard it was the best part. It was only 8am when we strolled the 30-35 minute walk from the hotel and we decided to have breakfast there before the markets opened. On our way there, we recognized much of the same architecture we had seen in Santa Fe, but we couldn’t identify if it was “real” or “fake”. It was easy to recognize the entrance to the Old Town and we immediately saw a similar layout of The Plaza with cafés, restaurants, markets and shops surrounding the square. I must admit it was more charming and intimate than Santa Fe, however, I was not a big fan of Albuquerque as a city. Then again, it’s probably not a fair conclusion since we didn’t spend that much time there.
I love to see a place wake up and come to life, and that’s exactly what we witnessed in the Old Town. Although the stores were still closed, locals began setting up their stands with arts and crafts around the square. We ended up at a cozy indoor-outdoor café called the Red Feather Diner, and we ordered a hefty breakfast with omelet, hash browns, flat bread, and pancakes to last us for a while. We no longer felt any effect from the storm only 36 hours earlier and the sun was out in 80 degree F weather. Done with breakfast, we strolled around the market place and spent most of hour time with a Native American couple (Zuni Community Arts Guild) whom taught us “Which One is Authentic, Indian Made Art?” It was an educational conversation based on laws protecting Indian arts and crafts (Public Law 101-644:The Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990 & Public Law 106-497: Crafts Enforcement Act) and I had never thought it was that easy to get ripped off when it comes to recognizing real from fake. Honestly, I had difficulties picking out the real turquoise from plastic! I had been looking for authentic Native American jewelry for Nikita and myself, and I ended up buying a beautiful set of earrings by Ola Eriacho (Eriacho Arts & Crafts – Zuni handmade jewelry) made of sterling silver, black jet, turquoise, sleeping beauty turquoise, and Picasso marble. I also bought a similar style pendant for Nikita. Although more expensive than other jewelry we had seen, fake or real, the pieces were gorgeous.