In 1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, along with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies from New Spain, entered the Rio Grande valley. Coronado was searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. He didn’t find any gold but he did find villages full of native farmers.
The people spoke the Tiwa language and Kuaua (which means Evergreen) was the northernmost village. It’s thought the village was settled in 1325 and when Coronado arrived about 1,200 people lived there.
During excavations in the 1930’s a square kiva was discovered in the plaza. The kiva contained some beautiful murals which are known as some of the finest examples of pre-columbian art ever found in the US. When the murals were excavated it was discovered that there were some 17 or 18 layers of plaster and each layer of plaster was decorated with paintings.
We took a tour of the kiva with the docent, while we’ve seen and been in quite a few kivas they’ve always been round kivas, never square. The paintings inside (no photographs allowed) are similar to the originals. While he didn’t know, the docent thought that as the scenes depicted in the paintings, showed things like corn, planting and harvesting, they represented a year, spring, summer, autumn and winter. He also told us that the black painted figure was a clown. Not a funny ha, ha sort of clown, but an enforcer type clown who carried a bull whip and scared the life out of you.
In a special display room by the visitor centre we admired the original paintings, (no photographs allowed) they’re very faded and some were marked by crow bars where they were yanked out of the walls.
It was very windy and we followed a short trail along the Rio Grande. The views of the Sandia Mountains were excellent and looking north we could just about see the snow-capped Sangre De Cristo Mountains.
We enjoyed our visit to this small but very interesting historic park.
Once we got back we parked the truck and walked the short way to the Kaktus Brewing Company, which is literally right next door to the Bernalillo KOA.
As we walked in we thought for a minute that all the tables were taken. When we looked again, we realised that the chair backs were painted to look like people. As ‘Breaking Bad’ hasn’t reached the UK yet we had no idea who this was meant to be until we were told. We tried our first Frito Pie, I didn’t know what to expect and while it was very nice, I’m not sure it’s something I’d have again. Most importantly though, the beer was pretty good!
Have fun, we are!