Santa Fe, for all of its charm, artistic leanings, and cultural diversity, feels much more like a synthesis than an actual place. That both upscale clothing stores and tacky strip malls are uniformly wrapped in adobe, while making the town visually distinctive, also makes it an odd pastiche—a bit like any small American city with the exception that this one has been dipped in batter, lightly browned and presented on a stick.
Though there are undeniable historic resonances and cultural influences from both Native American and Spanish-speaking inhabitants, the majority of people on the streets of Santa Fe seem to be the usual rootless travelers who, unable to situate their own culture, try on those of others like hats.
None of this is to say that Santa Fe is an uninteresting city or one that should be avoided—it is simply a place that deals more in illusion than reality.
Surrounding it, however, are some remarkably beautiful and varied landscapes as well as many small communities where both the people and the adobe are the real deal.
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