State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.


by Natalia

Take one part post-industrial city, one part diverted river, and one part inspiration, work at it for 15 years and voilà: the Riverwalk of Pueblo. In 1995 citizens of Pueblo voted to dig up the original riverbed and surround it with buildings and walkways creating somewhat smaller version of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Not as many fancy eateries as in Texan original, but at least they serve good coffee. And while the result is impressive, there is one ingredient missing: people.

The city looks deserted both at night and in the morning. Which is a pity as Pueblo in perfect move-in condition: cheap, clean, walkable. Although it seems the ability to walk, as it is with each new discovered skill, requires practice to master: when Damian looks for an ATM inside the bank, he is sent to the drive-thru unit in the parking lot.

The makeover of the city doesn’t stop at the river. The now defunct train depot is restored with requisite period pieces: cash registers, coin-operated scales and, among others, signs. All Irish, German, Italian, French, Greek, Polish, Spanish, Mexican, and Jewish passengers must use immigrant waiting room! This is what happens when public transport meets mass immigration.

The prejudice notwithstanding, providing separate rooms for immigrants was a solution to a very real problem: handling large groups of people who spoke little English, but had to be efficiently directed to the right destination.

Judging by the fact that 44% of the population is Latino Pueblo does not discriminate nowadays. Which is good, since it’s going to need many more people to fill its reconstructed city center. Maybe immigrants from the same countries as before will come. Although the city will have to do much more than providing separate waiting rooms.


Lowering the pressure in our tires might have helped a bit but it did not help enough. We still found ourself stuck in soft grayish sand on the way to the Medano Lake trailhead. And this time we actually did not try anything stupid. It was not our idea to drive here. I could not even get angry at Natalia who is usually responsible for pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone. This time it was a super nice and extra friendly park ranger. He suggested we try driving unimproved road since wind was too strong to hike the open dunes. I distinctly remember him telling us you can turn back at any point.


These things tend to happen without any special planning. Pyramids, Easter Island Statutes or elaborate churches in the middle of Indian Pueblos. Civilizations that are on a verge of ecological disaster make this last stab at greatness and spend their meager resources on something completely impractical. If one admits that a culture can commit suicide this is surely a showy way to go. Well at least Pueblo Indians did not invent all those crazy ideas all by themselves. They were coaxed, convinced and threatened by Franciscans who arrived to teach and convert indigenous population. Scraping a living on the dry desert was always hard. Spaniards brought goods: metals, crops, animals - all seemed like an improvement. Accepting their religion might have been seen as a small price for all that bounty. And it’s not like there was any other choice.