antelope canyon & sante fe | Day 8 | 1397 miles

july 9th, 2015 | 1 hour ahead

The hooves beat the ground, pushing the red iron-rich dirt up into the cold fresh air. The crunch of our boots make funnily-shaped imprints into the same stuff that was now blowing in the air. We open the leather pouches that our horses carry, and we load them with our things.

Our cases filled with clothes, snacks, and books are fastened to their haunches. You can hear the resolute clink of our sterling spurs and the horses’ purr as we mount them. The saddles were leather, and the stirrups stainless steel. The reigns, half-wood, half-leather resembled not strings of spaghetti but a whole thick-crust pizza.

We rode, and we rode hard. 500 miles from Page, AZ to Santa Fe, NM on the unforgiving curvature of our leather seats. And we did as all western men do after a long day’s ride: celebrate with a hearty meal — a spanish tapas affair.

There’s something about Santa Fe that has perfected the restaurant experience. Many restaurants in the bay area have nice or sleek environments, but they aren’t conducive to enjoying great company. Each of the meals we had in Santa Fe were unique not because of the differing decor but because of the feeling that one gets when one is in the space. The food was good, but it didn’t have to be because we felt like we were having an experience in which the food would be good.

I felt like I was living vicariously through a real Spanish man across the globe, just for the evening. I adopted this dashing fellow’s demeanor, outlook on life, but more importantly, his appreciation for food. Suddenly, time seemed of little importance. All I needed was to spend more time enjoying the situation: the food and the people.

I didn’t just feel like him. I became him. I felt that I knew all that he had known, that I knew exactly what life in Spain is like. Now that the meal was over, all I wanted was another taste, another chance to see the world from a different perspective, and I did—not from his perspective but from a variety of other men’s. That’s what Santa Fe gives to you: the chance to experience the world through another person’s body — be that a cowboy riding his horse into town, a Spanish connoisseur living life, or a Mexican family enjoying a family dinner.

I was all of these people, and all it took was a day in Santa Fe.

Originally published on from sea to shining sea by Aaron Yih on For more travel blog posts, go to travel section of my blog. Find more up to date info on my Instagram and video-based content on my Youtube.

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