This beautiful rural and rustic museum to the south of Santa Fe is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Anyone interested in livestock, farming, culture and living conditions during the early Southwest’s history will find this restored one-time caravanserai (from the Persian kārvānsarā, or Resting Place of Caravans), an accurate depiction of what historical life was like at this ranch. This camping or resting place, built in 1710 by Miguel Vega de Coca, was located just one final day’s journey from Santa Fe on the famous El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road to the Interior Land) – the original route from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico. This is where our story about Rancho Los Golondrinas must begin.
In an earlier blog about New Mexico Statehood, I described the establishment of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro by the Spanish Conquistador, Onate, who traveled north in the last years of the 16th Century from Mexico City to the interior lands. He and his small group of settlers followed ancient Native American trade routes towards present day New Mexico to colonize the unexplored land north of the Rio Bravo (present day Rio Grande River). Over the 2 centuries that followed, until the opening of the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri in the early 19th Century, El Camino Real was the sole trade and military route to the new Province of Nuevo Mexico. The route began in Mexico City, passing through the Mexican mining towns of Zacatecas and Durango up to El Paso, and finally Santa Fe.
Imagine the excitement of finally nearing Santa Fe – your final destination following a 6-month difficult, dusty and certainly uncomfortable trip! Here, one day away, was a place with water, feed for stock, food for weary travelers, and a place to bathe and pull out and clean your best clothes for your arrival the next day at the capital city of Santa Fe. Rancho Los Golondrinas was a true traveler’s paradise set among the cool cottonwoods of Caja del Rio.
If it were not for the Curtin-Paloheimo family, there would be no museum. This was the far sighted family which, in the 1930’s, bought the ranch with a preservationist’s vision. As part of that vision, The Museum was created to reconstruct and recreate what life was like in the 1700’s on a colonial Spanish ranch. Comparing it to its more famous cousin of Colonial Williamsburg is interesting. While both are “living museums,” I naturally preferred the relaxed Southwestern style of Los Golondrinas that embodies New Mexico. The historical recreation is done with more familiarity and approachability, and offers an informal view towards the past. The tradition of preservation continues today under the auspices of the Los Golandinas Foundation.
Many activities and exhibits embody the feel and look of the early New Mexico years, including: the restored acequias (irrigation ditches), the small flocks of sheep and their shepherds, the flour and corn grinding mills, the stables and outbuildings, barns and corals, original clothing and other activities of the early Spanish settlers. Be sure and visit the Museum during its annual Spring or Fall Festivals for the best experience. Canyon Road, near the Inn, shares the distinction of both the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and Camino del Canon (Canyon Road) being originally Native American trails that the Spanish turned into their own routes.
While in the neighborhood, please stop in and spend the night refreshing yourself from your journeys at the peaceful and relaxing Inn on the Alameda, nestled in a beautiful, cottonwood-lined setting. No matter what time of year it is, a stay at the Inn is always a treasured experience – winter, spring, summer and fall.
-Joe and Michael Schepps
For lovers of art and heritage, the upcoming weekend promises many delights, as the 61st annual Santa Fe Spanish Market swings into the Plaza. With 183 artists in the Market, and an additional 52 youth artists exhibiting their work, this is an artistic and familial legacy that continues to grow in size and quality.
Spanish Market on the Santa Fe Plaza
Taking place on the historic Plaza, on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, from 8:30 am to 5 pm, the Market offers something for everyone, from straw applique to retablos to engraving to weaving and calaveras, too. If we’re lucky, we might even see some of that beautiful and increasingly rare colcha embroidery!
Calaveras con Corazon
And if your taste runs more to the cutting edge, the Contemporary Hispanic Market runs concurrently, spread along both sides of Lincoln Avenue, with 134 booths of art and artistry to peruse or purchase.
There will be food, of course, since it’s Santa Fe, and among other tasty events, there’s a cooking class with John Vollertsen, “Spanish Influence on New Mexico’s Norteno Cooking,” at Las Cosas on July 26 at 10 am. And if you just can’t make time for that class, don’t forget that the Inn offers a Muy Sabrosa Cooking Experience with the experts from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, soon to be fully ensconced in their new location.
La Comida Muy Sabrosa!
Also on July 26, John Schaefer lectures on “Collecting Spanish Colonial Art” at Peyton Wright Gallery at 4:30 pm. On Friday July 27, at 9:30 am, Patina Gallery hosts a breakfast reception and lecture on the work of Enric Majoral. On Friday evening, a Market Preview opens at the Santa Fe Convention Center at 7 pm.
Listen for “la musica,” not only during the Saturday-Sunday Market itself. On Thursday, July 26, the Santa Fe Bandstand series gets into the act with homegrown favorites, Andy Primm and Alex Maryol, performing on the Plaza from 6 to 9 pm. Performances by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival take place in St. Francis Auditorium on Thursday, July 26 at noon and 6 pm, Friday, July 27 at 6 pm, Saturday, July 27 at 6 pm, and Sunday, July 28 at 5 pm. The Santa Fe Desert Chorale offers a concert, “Celebrating the Centenery,” at 8 pm on Saturday, July 28 at the New Mexico History Museum. The Santa Fe Opera serves up Giaochino Rossini’s Maometto II on Friday the 27th at 8:30 pm, and on Saturday the 28th, also at 8:30 pm, the premiere of Richard Strauss’ Arabella rounds out the season’s repertoire.
It looks like it will be a great weekend…will we see you there?
The holiday tradition of Las Posadas takes place on Sunday, December 11, at 5:30pm at the Palace of the Governors
So much of the holiday season seems so familiar and so relentlessly repetitive, and once-only experiences are becoming a rarity. That’s one of the reasons that Santa Fe loves Christmas Eve and the annual farolito display, a quietly moving spectacle that those who have come to the City Different over the holidays have no doubt seen.
Farolitos Light the Way
Less well-known, however, is the unique tradition known as Las Posadas, also a one-night-only event. A re-enactment of the Holy Family’s search for lodging, this annual holiday happening takes place each year in and around the historic Santa Fe Plaza. While the Plaza hardly looks Biblical, having already been lit with holiday lights and a Christmas tree, and the staging includes some details not found in the usual account, the story nonetheless comes to life in a very local way.
The Santa Fe Plaza Dressed in Snow
Originating in Spain as a religious observation, Las Poasadas is actually a novena, a nine-day event, occurring from December 16 through December 24. Although celebrations of Las Posadas are not uncommon in Northern New Mexico towns, places deeply rooted in the Spanish Catholic tradition, the one-night Plaza re-enactment grew out of a 1970’s era neighborhood campaign against development that sparked an annual celebration, which subsequently outgrew its original San Antonio Street location and moved to the Plaza.
Costumed participants portray the mortals who, in the biblical account, refuse lodging to a humble young pregnant woman and her carpenter-fiancé. As the couple circumnavigate the Plaza from the Palace of the Governors (the oldest government building in the U.S.), seeking rest and shelter, they stop on each corner to seek lodging and comfort, finding instead denial and disappointment.
Taking Off Winter’s Chill by a Luminaria at the Palace of the Governors
The devil, who ridicules and taunts the seekers from perches on the portals on the Plaza, is in turn treated to the boos and hisses of the assembled crowd, their faces illuminated by candle light. The supernatural power possessed by the devil purportedly allows him to magically appear at each of the Plaza locations designated as the “inns” where the couple tries to obtain a warm and dry spot in which to shelter. Four mortals portray the tormenting demon, crawling out of second-floor windows to discourage the weary travelers.
After numerous refusals stating that there was no room at “the inn,” thanks to the appearance of an angel who blesses the crowd and provides guidance, the couple and their entourage finally find respite from the chilly night in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors for the denouement of this holiday event. Once inside the courtyard, the procession warms up with hot cider, cookies, and a round of Christmas carols.
Sound interesting? It is! Just be sure to bundle up, since the winter Santa Fe weather has definitely arrived, and it’s nothing like Bethlehem temperatures. This year, Las Posadas takes place on Sunday, December 11, 2011, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Please note that the New Mexico Museum of History will close early at 3:00 p.m. to prepare for and accommodate this holiday tradition.
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola
And if you cannot attend, you can still create a special holiday reading tradition, thanks to noted author/illustrator, Tomie dePaolo, proof that an unusual event like this is indeed inspirational!