Welcome to the Explore! New Mexico blog

Explore! New Mexico searches the state for interesting stories to tell our listeners and readers - and now our blog followers! We are currently producing a series of multi-media podcasts for the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau about interesting events and places to visit. You can view them at our YouTube channel. Be sure to visit our website where you can get even more ideas about where to travel in the Land of Enchantment.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spanish Colonial Village: El Rancho de Las Golondrinas

We headed out to El Rancho de Las Golondrinas Thursday not really knowing what to expect. Now I've been to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, where they've relocated a group of New England colonial houses to give you a sense of time and place. I've been to Mystic Seaport to experience whaling in the 1800s. One of my favorite East Coast places is Colonial Williamsburg and its sister living museums at Jamestown Settlement and a working Colonial farm at Yorktown. All of these span the early 1700s to the formation of the United States in 1787.

Las Golondrinas ... actually the ranch of the swallows ... is a living museum telling about Spanish colonial history. I came to think of it as the Williamsburg of the West.

We ventured into the first grouping of buildings. About 80 per cent of these have been standing since they were built in 1710. Others were added in the early 1800s after the fear of attack by Commanches passed. Over time the houses fell into other uses; e.g. a residence was used as a hay barn. In 1946, relatives of the family that had purchased the property decided to restore it as a Spanish colonial village. To the existing buildings, they added scores of others: a mill, schoolhouse, farm houses and working buildings. Each was found in northern New Mexico, and moved to Las Golondrinas. It is one place in New Mexico where you can observe and study life as it was in the 18th Century.

Docents, all of whom are volunteers, dress in period costumes and each told us a part of the story as we entered one building after another. I was really impressed with how knowledgeable they were. They've obviously studied hard. They were as excited to tell their stories as we were to listen. And they accommodated the "typical tourist" too. As our time ran short and we approached closing time, we found one man locking up houses. Cheryl said ... in jest ... tell us your story in 30 seconds. He stopped making his rounds, took us into a farmer's cottege and spent about 20 minutes telling us about how life was in the village where we were. That was certainly going beyond the call of duty.

While we were there on a weekday, the ranch hosts festivals over many weekends -- a spring and fall festival, wine festival, and Viva Mexico, a cooperative festival with the Mexican consulate. In fact, Viva Mexico is July 17 and 18.

This is a great place to immerse youself in colonial history -- and an even greater place for the kids to experience history. Check their web site: http://www.golondrinas.org/.

Posted by Bud Russo

1 comment: