Prairie dog on the sidewalk, sniffing the air as I drive past. Santa Fe, NM is so different from Columbus, OH. It is not merely the flora, the fauna, or the weather, although all of those things probably feed into it. It is the attitude of the latitude and the altitude.
Santa Fe is obsessed with its appearance. It calls itself “the City Different” and it does its best to show that face to newcomers and casual visitors. It forces all its architecture to be that faux-dobe style, but it keeps true native influence hidden, subverted, or contained. The native jewelers may only sell on a small strip by the Governor’s Mansion on the plaza. I have been told that they used to be able to sell anywhere in the city, especially the plaza. The plaza contains a memorial to soldiers who died oppressing a local tribe. Chains prevent people from coming too close, but it is obvious to the observant that people have permanently defaced the memorial and that the barriers are to prevent more of such actions. Prairie dog cities lie beneath the ground; small holes reveal some of their whereabouts and the government continues a neverending battle for territory. The prairie dogs occasionally lose ground, but they always return.
I guess that is not so different from anyplace (or anyone) else, really. We all try to put forth the image that we want to show. But like acne, or like the aforementioned prairie dogs, the things that we do not want to show still pop up.