Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cuba's Gift

Victor "Cuba" Hernandez
I first introduced you to Victor Hernandez also known as Cuba in my January 29, 2011 post. Then last Friday I encountered him again at his campsite on the flank of a sheep strewn hillock across from San Antonio Mountain.  The second time was every bit as special.

Peggy and I and our son Garrett and his wife Michelle were exploring along US 285 north of Tres Piedras hoping for a decent photograph to declare itself. My expectations were along the lines of getting one keeper of a landscape for a show that Peggy and I have scheduled for May. Anything more would be gravy. 

Prophetically, just as our conversation had turned to my 2011 adventure with Cuba I turned east to the Taos Plateau. After half a mile we passed between two shallow hills with rocky spines and I spied a corrugated trailer with hundreds of grazing borregos just beyond. “It’s Cuba,” I shouted with total delight. I couldn’t have shown the timelessness of northern New Mexico any better. It was an absolute gift.

As we got close to the trailer a slightly hunched figure came out to greet us. My passengers were just a little apprehensive since Cuba was packing heat. I rolled down the window greet him while summoning my slightly improved Spanish to remind him that I had visited several years before, that I had photographed him with his dogs Daddy and Puppy and had mailed photographs of him and his perros to his patron, Alfonso Abeyta. His eyes lit up as he described the photographs as “grande.” They were, in point of fact, not so grande 8”x10"s but no matter.

Cuba and Daddy
I got out of the car for a proper handshake when he immediately showed me the weapon he was toting while describing its provenance in rich Spanish only detail. He told me that his meticulously maintained Mauser EspaƱa bolt action had once been used by Pancho Villa. The rifle was dated 1890 and if Victor says the Villistas used it they used it.

He proudly declared that he was seventy years old and said he would be camped with his sheep till February and then would herd them to the Abeyta spread just over the Colorado border. It was minus 15 in his neck of the woods last night. You get the picture.

The portrait up top was worth the price of admission.


Blacks Crossing said...

Cuba's gift, indeed! A great face, a rough and cold day, and gorgeous sheep! Connie Taylor, Navajo Churro sheep registrar for the United States and the folks at the Taos Wool Festival would love to see these shots.

A wonderful thing - having your wife, son, and daughter-in-law around for the holidays, and then to encounter the gift that has opened 2015 (albeit a little early) as a groundbreaking year. Well done!

Steve Immel said...

Thanks Daryl. Happy New Year to you and Fred.

John Farnsworth said...

Steve, you've done it again! Great post. Your special talent is in the combining of images and words and the way they compliment each other.

And what a treat for Garrett and Michelle to be there.

Steve Immel said...

It certainly is a joy to have them both with us for the first time at Christmas.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments and correction now made. That one got past me.