Spring Break: Scouting Trip to Taos, NM

We decided to spend a year in Taos, New Mexico beginning the summer of 2018. Though the idea of moving has been stewing for a while, the location of Taos was rather impulsive: we spent two nights during a road trip in the summer of 2017 and fell in love. Since then, we have been making arrangements and figuring out how to make the adventure possible, and this past week we visited Taos for the first time since those two magical summer days. The goal was to find a place to live and generate enthusiasm in my two boys (ages 10 and 12).

We are incurring expenses that normally wouldn’t be part of our day to day here in Miami, and I did want to share about finances as it is one of the major considerations in deciding to take a leap like this. Four round trip tickets from Miami to Albuquerque or Denver (the two nearest large airports) would’ve cost a fortune so we opted to use our airline miles and fly into Dallas, Texas for free. We also used miles for the three nights we were in a hotel, and then stayed at Air BnBs (we HIGHLY recommend this one with Host Amy in Taos). From Dallas, we drove 675 miles in one day to make it toTaos. We were on a mission. Filled with curiosity, pre-conceived ideas, and excitement.

I can’t say the drive was fun, but it wasn’t terrible either

As we crossed the Sangre de Cristo Mountains the sun was setting, and it was dark by the time we arrived to meet our fantasy world. We were tired and hungry, and as we looked around both my husband Joe and I silently thought “oh crap. What the F*** did we do?”

Taos has one main road, the Paseo (which is then subdivided into ‘del Sur’ and ‘del Norte.’) We arrived through Paseo del Sur and it looked like an old road dotted with your small town essentials such as a Days Inn, a supermarket, and a few gas stations. There was nothing cute or quaint about it. We then checked in to our Hampton Inn at the Paseo, and went to the Old Plaza for dinner. I forgave the lack of enthusiasm for the Paseo del Sur believing it was just the outskirts of a charming and vibrant downtown. But when we got to the Plaza, everything was dark. Even the parking lot was closed, the square was eerily quiet. We made our way to one restaurant that was open, and I mentioned quietly to Joe “if this isn’t right for us, we don’t have to go through with it.”

This was what we arrived to:

This is a pic from the internet. Just to show you the Paseo del Sur is an ordinary road and could be anywhere in this country.

This is more like what we remembered:

Kit Carson Road in downtown Taos.

Do you see what I am getting at? Nothing wrong with the Paseo del Sur, but if I am going to schlep my family half way across country to a complete unknown, I imagined the schlepping would take me to a place like the second picture.

Ah doubt. My old friend was there, lurking in my unconscious just waiting for the perfect time to pop out and make an impression. My doubt found it’s host in my brain and it settled in for some fun that night.  I couldn’t sleep. What had happened to that quaint little town we met this summer? Where was the charm that had seduced us to leave everything behind and gamble on this adventure? That night, my daydream Taos was nowhere to be found. In its place was a dreary dark town, full of unknowns and empty spaces.

Joe and Fearless on Kit Carson road this past summer

As a kid, my parents moved around and I went through six different schools before graduating high school. In my twenties I moved from Boston, to New York, to Palo Alto, to Chile. I had jobs in each one and was up for the adventure of change. Joe was also a travel buff in his earlier years having once spent six months backpacking through Egypt alone. But I am not young and single. I am a wife and mother. My parents moved because of my father’s work. Our family does not have to move, we are doing this because we WANT to. I have two children who unconditionally TRUST me to make the best decisions I can for them. And I was not sure that moving to Taos was one of them.

It was a classic case of reality falling significantly short of fantasy-like expectations. I was riddled with doubt.

Last summer’s Taos, and this girl in love with it

Now here is the irony. I wrote the curriculum for the I’mPossible Run Club and we have an entire unit on positive thinking and doubt. We tell children that when we leave our comfort zone, we will have doubt. When you run faster than you ever ran before, you might think “I can’t do this, I am too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too this, too that.” The same doubt comes into play in “real life” or anytime you do something you’ve never done before. We teach children to not to be surprised by negative thoughts but rather to expect them. When doubt comes, we teach children to congratulate themselves for moving past their boundaries instead of paying attention to their doubts. But laying wide awake in my hotel bed in Taos, I didn’t recognize my doubt was just the consequence of leaving my comfort zone. I didn’t use any tools to get out of that space, instead I waited in dread for the next morning.

If you look at Trulia, Zillow, or similar you will find about zero listings for furnished homes in Taos. I was told the best way to find a place to live in Taos, was to check the bulletin board of one of the local establishments. That didn’t make the prospect of living there very clear. Nor did my calls to local real estate agents bear any fruits. But a quick search on Air BnB divulged a slew of homes. I thought, “what if I contact these Air BnB homes and ask if they are interested in a long term rental?” I mentioned my plan to a couple of people who were quite skeptical, but I told them “all I need is one.” You never know what someone is going through, why their home is on the share site, and what their motivations are. Why not try? I wrote messages to every single host in Taos County whose listing fit the description of what we wanted (that’s close to forty).  90% of them were not interested but I did get a few bites.

One bite, super cute home in Arroyo Seco. 10 miles north of Taos.

So the morning after my miserably dark night, we set out to look at these homes. As we did, we learned about different neighborhoods and life in Taos. We looked at houses made out of adobe, with kiva fireplaces, mountain views and southwestern décor. We learned there is a significant income disparity in Taos, and that New Mexico is one of the poorest states in our country. But we also learned Taosenos are known for their warmth and friendliness to which I can whole heartedly attest. During the day, the Plaza came alive with tourists, locals and buskers.  Taos Ski Valley, an integral part of our “sales pitch” to the boys was so relaxed the boys were allowed to make funny faces for their ski pass pictures.

The street of one of our potential homes.

Throughout the week the unknown slowly became familiar. The Taos I had dreamed of came to life right before my eyes. Not because it wasn’t there all along, but because I was so stuck in my fear I couldn’t see it. I was fascinated with the historic old town, but understood I also want to be near a supermarket and gas station, those necessities found in the not so charming Paseo del Sur. By the time we left, we had signed a rental agreement for an adobe townhouse walking distance from the Plaza.

Home sweet home

Does this mean that I no longer have doubt?

To a certain extent, yes. When Dreamer tells me “I wish we could stay a little longer here” I know this move is right for us. We have made a decision and we are no longer looking back.  Any doubt about if this move is right for us will now be labeled as leaving my comfort zone. And just like I tell my students at Run Club, I will accept the doubt, say hello to it, and move on.

Here’s a video my twelve year old blossoming filmmaker made about his Spring Break in Taos

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