la posada

If you’ve been following my travel posts, you’ll know that we recently returned from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our son had raved about staying at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa. What he didn’t know and I was soon to find out… the hotel is “haunted”. (Personally I really detest that word; it always gives me the creeps; leaving me to imagine Jack Nicolson and his evil grin, “Heeeerrrre’s Johnny!”) No, I actually spend time talking to my dead people. I have lots of them around me all the time – some I’ve known, some I haven’t. Creepy? Not for me. But you may reconsider after I tell you my story. It can get a bit chills-up-and-down-the-spine-ish.

So, about the second day into our stay, HB was surfing the Net and found this article about “The Ghost at La Posada”. I thought nothing of it and went about my business. The third night at about 3 in the morning I was awakened by this dreadful dark presense. I mean really dark. It even scared me and that’s hard to do. I prayed and finally was able to go to sleep.

The next afternoon, I was traversing the ground at La Posada with my dog and I spotted a green round pod on the ground. I thought it was a black walnut. I picked it up, and to my surprise it was an unripened apricot that had fallen from this immense tree. The biggest apricot tree I’d ever seen. I mean, it was gigourmous! I saw that there was a placard at the base of the tree, so I went to investigate. At that point the manager, Ben Tutt, was passing by. He started telling me that the tree wouldn’t last much longer and it may have to be cut down. My reaction, with an almost shocked expression in my voice, ” Oh no, Ben – you can’t cut this beautiful tree down.. that would be so sad. It’s Julia’s tree!” I then said, “She’s not gonna be very happy if you cut it down… oh, I hope you can save it!” He said they were trying to do all they could.

Julia’s apricot tree

That night I was awakened once again at 3am. After checking the clock I realized it was somehow different this time. It was peaceful. I read some of my emails, then went back  to sleep. The next night… same thing… awakened at 3am. By now, I’m beginning to see a pattern. Three in the morning, three nights in a row?! So what do I do? What any sane person would do in that situation –  I begin to google “Julia/ the ghost at La Posada”, what else? I know, it was crazy, but I honestly had no fear, not even a bit of creepy! I discovered that she wanders the property and is most often seen at three in the morning. Well, whaddyaknow? At this point,  I see a portrait of Julia, on the site I’d looked up  – and I begin to whisper (I don’t want to wake HB), “Julia, You’re really beautiful!” What we learned later, from La Posada’s “ghost” expert”, Pauline… this is not a portrait of Julia Staab. It’s her dress, but it’s not Julia!

This is a portrait of  Julia Staab with her husband, Abraham.

 Had I seen the above photo, that third night, I would have still whispered, “You’re really beautiful, Julia!” I was telling one of my daughters this and she said, “I love you Mom – you’re such a dork.” It’s a compliment, really!

I don’t know why I felt a connection to Julia… maybe it’s our common love of apricot trees. I had one growing up. My parents called it “Jani’s Apricot Tree”. I climb on it and ate the apricots ripe off that old tree and as a young adult, I made jams and canned the fruit from my tree. I cried when it had to be cut down. In any case, I did love her tree and I wanted to know more about Julia. Most of the accounts you read online have some of the facts, but not all. And, no one ever will. There’s not any absolute account surrounding the facts about Julia, her relationship with Abraham or her rather mysterious death.

The room where she spent the remainder of her life, has been turned into a suite. She has been seen on the stairs leading to her room. An adult figure and a child appeared in a photograph taken of Julia’s home (it sits in the hallway of the original home at La Posada). As the photographer was showing the photograph of the images, there was a flash of light and then they were gone. Often times there have been sightings in the upstairs right corner window. In the following collage, there’s a photograph of the Staab House taken after her death. The third floor ballroom, where Julia entertained the elite of Santa Fe during the 1880s, was destroyed by fire. There’s only speculation as to the cause and year it happened… but it was after she died!

Pauline told us of five “permanent guests” that stay at La Posada; if you’re ever there – and a man in a Panama suit knocks on your door and says’ “It’s time for you to leave!” … just ignore it… he’s one of the five. The one thing that Pauline stressed is to be respectful. I felt I was; maybe that’s why I never felt fear or concern or “the creeps” like so many describe these experiences. I know there have been visiting guests who have reserved the suite, just to change rooms shortly after check-in. The lights had kept going on and off for no apparent reason.

I try to imagine what Julia’s life must have been like. There seems to be a sadness in her eyes. I felt a feeling of compassion for her and her spirit. I’d like to visualize her in a happy and peaceful place. I certainly don’t want her to experience the cutting down of her precious apricot tree!

 One of the evening custodial employees was mopping the room in the following photo. He looked up and saw a woman standing by the fireplace. He looked again and she was gone. This was one of Julia’s favorite rooms. There are beautiful paintings of roses and other flowers on display in this room.

Roses are said to be her favorite flower. I believe she must have loved orange blossoms as well. Pauline told us of one experience she had in the basement when she was doing inventory for the hotel. It smelled musty as most old basements do. She got up to cross the room, when she walked through an area that permeated with the fragrance of roses and orange blossoms. As she passed through that area again, she smelled it as before. She was then back to the normal musty odor. She told us, “I lived in California; there’s no mistaking the smell of orange blossoms.” This is true. Growing up we had an orange tree in our backyard in California. I love the smell of orange blossoms – and roses just happen to be one of my favorite flowers!

There are so many more details we learned about Julia’s life that I’d love to share. But I won’t. You’ll just have to plan a trip to La Posada de Santa Fe and sit down with Pauline. It was well worth our time. We learned so much about the history of The Staab House, Pauline’s personal experiences – some a bit chilling – and her research into the life of Julia Staab. She shares it with conviction and respect. When we return I want to spend a night in Julia’s Suite!

So, here’s just one more colorful reason to visit La Posada de Santa Fe. Call it spooky if you will… but beware of making fun, especially if you happen to be standing in front of her suite. And that’s another story!

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