Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Prologue: Dichos, Performance, and Place

Enrique R. Lamadrid

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pp. vii-viii

The incorporation of proverbs into oral performance and literary expression is a tradition deeply rooted in Spanish language and culture. Generally known as dichos (sayings) and refranes (refrains), they are small poems whose metaphors and measured turns lend cultural and moral authority to the conversations...

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Introduction: Language at the Heart of Place

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pp. 1-14

Chimayó is one of the most mythologized, misunderstood—and, some would say, maligned—places in New Mexico. On one hand, it holds a place in the popular imagination as housing the “Lourdes of America,” a reference (growing increasingly cliché) to the annual Good Friday pilgrimage to the...

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Esequiel and Magdalena in La Cuchilla

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pp. 15-28

Mom and I meet up at the De Vargas Mall in Santa Fe, where I transfer my camera gear to her car, and we head north, climbing out of Santa Fe and breaking the gravity of day-to-day routines to launch into the spacious northern New Mexico world. We have no idea where we’ll go in Chimayó, but...

Dichos About Mortality

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pp. 29-30

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Tomasita’s Chile Colorado from the Plaza de Abajo

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pp. 31-37

My mother and I make a special trip to Chimayó every fall, not to gather holy dirt at the famed santuario, but for something almost equally revered: Chimayó chile.
We’ve always relied on Chimayó friends and relatives to grow chile for us, since we don’t have farmland. In fact, our immediate family was separated...

Dichos About Friendship and Enmity

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pp. 38-40

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Lorencito in the Plaza del Cerro

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pp. 41-45

Today I’m on my own, and I elect to stay close to the Plaza del Cerro. It’s unusually warm for late October in Chimayó, but the cottonwoods along Acequia del Distrito, the ditch that traverses the plaza, are brilliant with fall color. A beaver has taken up residence, and several trees lie prone on the...

Dichos About Fate and Hardship

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pp. 46-50

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Benerito on La Otra Banda

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pp. 51-55

On this visit to Chimayó, Mom and I decide to visit a neighborhood that the people from the Plaza del Cerro refer to simply as la otra banda (the other bank), since it’s on the other, south side of the Santa Cruz River. This little neighborhood is situated near Potrero and across the river from Los...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 56-58

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Grabielita in Ranchitos

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pp. 59-62

After we check on Grandma’s house, Mom and I decide to stop in on Grabielita Ortega. Neither of us has spoken to her in perhaps a decade. She and Grandma were dear friends, as well as relatives through marriage. When I was growing up, we visited Grabielita and her son Roger, a wonderful...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 63-66

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Esequiel in Los Ojuelos

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pp. 67-70

I’m on a quest to find Esequiel Trujillo, whom I barely know but greatly admire. Esequiel has described to me how to find his home, and when I lived in Chimayó I often watched him drive past my house in his old truck on his way to the cluster of buildings among which his house stood. The older...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 71-74

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Juan Trujillo and the Capilla de San Antonio del Potrero

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pp. 75-82

I drop into Chimayó and turn off in Potrero, the first plaza of Chimayó encountered when coming from Santa Fe. Here stands the celebrated Santuario de Chimayó, an adobe church built by my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Bernardo Abeyta.
On occasion I came to Mass here...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 83-86

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Alonzo’s Horses in Los Ojuelos

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pp. 87-91

I’m taking my mother to see Esequiel at his home in the Los Ojuelos neighborhood. We travel along the Arroyo de los Ojuelos and turn to cross the Acequia de la Cañada Ancha, which is running even now, in midwinter. We slip past the charging Rottweiler and into Esequiel’s driveway. I tap on the...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 92-94

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Santos Ortiz’s House

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pp. 95-99

I’m in Chimayó to photograph a crumbling adobe wall. I first stumbled across it on Christmas day, when my brother and I took a break from family festivities at my sister’s house nearby to go looking for good light for painting. Arturo is a painter, and he is always searching out the “magic hour” light. It’s...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 100-102

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Aaron Martinez in Los Ranchos

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pp. 103-107

We came to Chimayó today without expectations, and we’re dazzled by apricot blossoms glowing brightly against a cracked adobe wall on a small tree near the plaza. This beleaguered tree greets the spring against all odds. No one planted it; it probably sprouted from a discarded pit, and it...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 108-110

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El Oratorio de San Buenaventura

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pp. 111-117

The peach trees are in bloom as we approach Magdalena Espinosa’s house. The noonday sun shines down on the brilliant blossoms, made all the more striking because the tree stands beside her bright turquoise-blue garage door.
We’ve heard Magdalena’s health is failing and want to pay a visit. It’s been a...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 118-120

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A Pachanga in Rincon de los Trujillos

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pp. 121-126

A friend of mine, Sam Adams, joins me for a jaunt to Chimayó today. I rarely bring “outsiders” with me on my Chimayó trips, but Sam, with his unassuming manner and candid, open respect for everyone he meets, has a way of fitting in anywhere.
I wanted Sam to meet Esequiel, and we’re disappointed...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 127-130

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Adios Andariego

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pp. 131-134

It’s a dry June day, and I drive straight to Esequiel’s. It concerned me greatly when he wasn’t home last time I visited. Soon I’ll be leaving for a couple of weeks, so I want to check in with him as well as his daughter, Loyola, and her husband, Ralph.
Loyola, sitting on the low wall around the front porch having a smoke...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 135-136

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Esequiel Takes a Spin

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pp. 137-141

Traveling on my own today, I drive directly to Esequiel’s. Since I’ve returned from my travels, I’ve heard he’s doing poorly, and I want to see firsthand what that means.
It’s a blazing-hot day. Cicadas buzz in the piñón trees along the dusty road. The horses in Esequiel’s corrals doze in the midday sun, crowding in the shade...

Dichos About Character

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pp. 142-144

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Salomón

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pp. 145-147

I’m still a bit shaken up by my encounter with Lorenzo and haunted by the thought that I could have been in serious trouble with that neighbor on the hill. I imagine him up there with a rifle, watching for me to come around again. So, on my way to check on Esequiel again, I stop at the home of a...

Dichos About Health

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pp. 148-150

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Don Patricio Cruz’s House on the Hill

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pp. 151-154

This balmy November afternoon I vow to get a close look at a lone adobe house sitting on a hilltop smack in the middle of the valley. It’s a house that draws attention and invites stories: it’s old, crumbling, isolated, and visible from many vantages. It’s situated in the middle of a large, undeveloped pasture...

Dichos About Truth

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pp. 155-158

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Narciso Trujillo in Los Pachecos

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pp. 159-164

For years I’ve wanted to have a talk with Narciso Trujillo. I did speak briefly with him once, some years ago, when I lived near him. I watched him cross an empty field near my house each day, leading a swaybacked old horse on his way home in the evenings. After observing this daily trek for...

Dichos About Looks and Appearance

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pp. 165-168

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The Capilla de Santa Rita in Chimayó Abajo

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pp. 169-176

For years I’ve admired a small chapel in lower Chimayó, a lovely white building atop a solitary hill near “the last arroyo,” the one that roughly defines the western edge of Chimayó proper. Beyond the arroyo the highway passes through pastures that many years ago belonged to El Güero Mestas, my...

Consejos (Counsel or Advice)

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pp. 177-182

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Tom Montoya and the Maytag Roller

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pp. 183-185

It’s a warm January day. I slip into the driveway at María and Narciso’s place and encounter a man I haven’t met before, standing on the sunny side of the building (la resolana) where I so often find Narciso warming himself. He introduces himself as Tom Montoya, Narciso’s nephew. He holds back a minute...

Dichos About Work and Money

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pp. 186-188

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Wolfie and Another Corona

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pp. 189-197

It’s a bleak, cool spring day, and it hasn’t snowed in a long time. The bare trees are already desperate for water, and the long, dry months of May and June lie ahead for the battered and gray land. The light is washed out, and the wind has been blowing incessantly for weeks. Smoke puffs from the stovepipes...

Dichos About Love and Family

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pp. 198-200

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Grabielita on La Pascua

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pp. 201-206

It’s Easter Sunday, la Pascua. Gone are the throngs of pilgrims who made their way to the santuario two days ago, on Good Friday—a day when we generally avoid visiting Chimayó. The carnival atmosphere of the pilgrimage contrasts dramatically with the way it used to be, the way we liked it. The sheer...

Dichos About Children and Child Rearing

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pp. 207-210

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At the Campo Santo on Memorial Day

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pp. 211-216

It’s sunny and hot—and windy—as my daughter Jennifer and I find our way amid the gravestones in the campo santo in Potrero to locate the markers for our dearly departed. I’m teaching her how to locate even the oldest ones I know, repeating to her name after name, hoping she’s a faster learner than I...

Dichos About Faith

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pp. 217-220

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Tomasita’s Green Chile

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pp. 221-224

Tomasita’s little dog runs out from under a pickup truck to yap at us, announcing that Mom and I have arrived. It’s not the usual time of year for us to visit. Normally, we come in the fall for red chile, but we’ve had a hankering for some green this summer. In all the years we’ve been getting chile...

Dichos About Food

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pp. 225-228

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Postscript

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pp. 229-232

It’s been six years since I started this journey of chasing dichos around Chimayó and decided to write a book about it. Of course, there’s a dicho for that: “Del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho.—There’s a long distance between saying and doing.” In the case of this book, that is an understatement. There...

Back Cover

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