It's been six years, I think, since I was last at the Santuario de Chimayo - and it's changed hugely in that time. Not the church itself, which is as quiet and magical as it's always been. but both outside at the back, and on the street, there's much more of a feeling of a Santuario tourist industry than there's ever been before. A homemade, slightly funky, chile-inflected industry, to be sure, but much more slick and systematized than it used to be. And behind the church? Where there used to be a wire fence interwoven with homemade crosses and prayers, there are now a whole series of stone arches: elegant, yes, but it's strange to see it so formal.
And then a whole lot of small shrines have grown up, carefully maintained, if still somewhat - thank goodness - haphazard in their offerings.
I prefer, now, for a sense of beauty and solitude, the cemetery just outside Truchas. But that being said - it's great being able to introduce an out of towner to these places - and then to continue the long loop of a drive to Trampas, Sipapu, and down through Mora and Las Vegas NM - Northern New Mexico is truly one of the most beautiful places imaginable.