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The Penitente Morada

Espanola, NM, NM, USA
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Abiquiu's Discreet Penitente Chapel Abiquiu New Mexico United States

Abiquiu's Discreet Penitente Chapel

Up a dirt road that feels more like someone's private driveway, past the village cemetery with its handmade crosses framed against a dusty hillside, the Penitente Morada in Abiquiu sits crouched on the earth, a wonderful secret, discreet against one of Georgia O'Keeffe's signature vistas. A simple bell and three wooden crosses hint to the secret society that gave rise to this chapel, recently restored but dating back to the 1700s.

New Mexico's depth of history always astounds at these northernmost reaches of the search for Cibola. I like to remember I was hardly trying for a perfect shot when I framed this picture after a two-hour private tour of O'Keeffe's home; my senses were already on overload. Everything is just clearer and crisper in the high desert light.