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