Rudy Fernández was born in Peñasco, a small village near Taos Pueblo where for decades Spanish has been the primary language. He has been best known as ´Froggie´ since he arrived in Santa Fe to look for new opportunities when he was 15 years old. Nowadays, Rudy dedicates his spare time to acting in theatre plays and occasionally in movies, as he says, `it helps him to exercise his memory.´
Rudy can picture a smaller Santa Fe where the plaza was the meeting point for the locals. Today, he is part of the `Caballeros de Vargas´ a collective that preserves the cultural aspects related to the historical figure of Diego de Vargas. He is a proud New Mexican and feels that his roots are found in Spain. He explains in this interview some of the similarities he sees between the New Mexican and Spanish cultures.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit David Roybal at his home in Cundiyo, in northern New Mexico. After driving through miles of stunning landscape and finally crossing the bridge where two little streams meet at the bottom of the hill, we found the mighty cottonwood tree that he had beautifully described. As soon as I step into his house I felt warm & comfortable, at home.
David has worked as a news reporter, editor and political columnist mainly for the Sanfa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal. In this interview he provides us with an insight into the history of his family home that over generations has stored the memories shared within its thick adobe walls.
David Roybal talks about his time in Cundiyo and what he knows about his ancestors, the Roybals. He also has strong links with Mexico, especially with the region of Nayarit, near Puerto Vallarta where we found the inspiration for his new book `Manuel of the Americas´, a story of loyalty and love found within a courageous family from Mexico.
I then had the pleasure of talking with David’s uncle, Carlos Vigil, one of the elders of the village. Afterwards we continued our journey north passing Cordova before arriving into Truchas, a community that began with a Spanish land grant in 1754 and where many artists have settled and now live.
On the way back, we passed Chimayó and visited the Santuario briefly. Unfortunately a few miles later we ran out of petrol somewhere on route to Española. Our thanks must go to David Roybal, who came to the rescue, for which we are eternally grateful.
Its easy to forget when travelling through this landscape at 55mph on smooth tarmac freeways how every minor ravine, gully, river or mountain would have seriously affected the early travellers of this expansive and seamlessly never ending environment.
The Giga-Pixel image was shot by Matt Wright whilst we took a break from the onslought of hills and wind on Orwell. You can go fullscreen and use zoom and pan to appreciate the scale of the spaces encountered.
We were fortunate on our second day in Abiquiu to enjoy the sunset over the Chama river. Matt captured this high definition image from an overlook by the road.
I imagine that it might have been hard to leave this place at the beginning of an uncertain journey.
For the last two days I have been based in Abiquiu where I met a variety of locals who were really open in sharing some of their personal memories and how these fit into the wider narrative of Abiquiu and its complex history. Abiquiu was the place from where Antonio Armijo´s expedition across the Old Spanish Trail started on the 7th November of 1829.
It is believed that this area was populated by Native Americans since the eleven century. The first Spanish settlers established here during the first half of the eighteen century, although sometimes they had to abandon their land grants because of the continuous raids made by nomadic Native Americans. Spanish Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín made a historic decision in 1754 by granting a `pueblo league´to 34 Genizaro families, hoping that these families could establish a defensive position to protect the Hispanic communities from other attacks, as Cachupín believed that they were the best Indian fighters. When peace finally came to the area the Pueblo became an important trading center for a large area of the Southwest. The Genizaros of Abiquiu were of mixed descent including Hopi, Plains Indians and Pueblo that were raised within the Hispanic culture, speaking Spanish and being Christianised. They were considered an Indian pueblo by the Spanish and the Mexican governments, but today, still many residents believe that a portion of their identity was overlooked when they were recognised by the United States government as an Hispanic community rather than as a Native American pueblo.
I had the opportunity to interview Pueblo Historian, David López, who gave us an enriching tour around Abiquiu and explained some of the most relevant events in the area. I will be posting his interview soon.