Monday, February 21, 2022

Cundiyo y Mucho Más

Capilla de Santo Domingo, Cundiyo, NM

I have driven the high road to Taos dozens of times in the past 20 years. Sometimes I make a special trip to photograph the villages along the road. But most often I take that route to break up the monotony of driving through Española and the dangerous canyon. That’s usually when I am coming back from an appointment in Santa Fe as happened last week when I had a medical appointment and decided to return via the High Road.

The Road to Cundiyo

Beautiful Cundiyo

Cundiyo Center

I drove through Pojoaque and turned east through Nambé were I planned to turn north to Chimayo where I would continue northeast to Truchas, Las Trampas, Peñasco and Taos. I photographed two old adobe houses in Nambé and continued east. But his time instead of turning left to Chimayo I continued straight ahead where the sign said “Winding Mountain Road....” I decided to see what I would find. After about five miles of twisting road, I turned left down shallow hill into the postcard village of Cundiyo. It was a quintessential Spanish village. At the height of land stood lovely church, La Capilla de Santo Domingo. “How could I have missed thus jewel?” I thought to myself. Cundiyo is the perfect Spanish mountain pueblo, the most idyllic I’ve seen yet.

Santa Domingo in the snow 

Since there was still snow on the ground from the recent snowstorm. I parked across the street so I could photograph the little church from various angles. The capilla was charming and the village was absolutely enchanting.

A week later I got the itch to return so I could complete the task of depicting Cundiyo. As I processed my images Sunday morning, I knew I hadn't done the village justice. 

I did learn that Cundiyo is in Santa Fe County and is exactly 30 miles from the city different. There are 72 hardy residents sharing their private paradise. It might as well be in another country.

As I strolled the village to photograph a gentleman in a pickup truck stopped and spoke to me in Spanish. I feigned understanding and he declared, “You speak Spanish.”

I mumbled something incomprehensible. He smiled and said, “Poquito.“ Very little, indeed.

I boasted, “Probablamente soy un hispanohablante intermedio.” An intermediate Spanish speaker. On my best day, I thought to myself.

Gilbert Vigil from Española told me there were lots of Vigils in Cundiyo. Then he said, “I think you’re a nice guy.

I told him, “I hope so.”

“Do you want a dozen eggs?” he asked. ”I have chickens.”

I answered. “Sure, but I want to pay for them.”

“I don’t want you to pay for them,” Gilbert insisted.

 “Okay then. I’ll take the eggs. Gracias.”

 "Don’t wash them. If you don’t, they’ll last four months. God put a film on them to protect them. You don’t want to remove it.” He instructed me.

“The eggs are safe. We don’t wash eggs.”

Gilbert gave me his phone number and we agreed we’d get a cup of coffee or a bite to eat sometime soon.

My visits to Cundiyo underscored a couple of things. First, take that fork in the road or, as in this case, the winding mountain road you’ve avoided for 20 years. You need a surprise in your life.

And they reinforced the notion that you can make a warm human connection very quickly and you can get to know a person you’ve just met very well very fast. Just listen.

Gilbert Vigil will be the subject of next week's blog as part of the series Encounters of the First Kind. The last quick study was meeting Amy French at the Grand Canyon last September. 

I’ve got to pick up the pace if I'm going to extrude a book out of first meetings.


1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Your blog today tells us that regardless how many times we visit or place or even live in a city, there is always more to see. And that is certainly true of Cundiyo. Your photographs literally describe Cundiyo, but I am particularly fond of La Capilla de Santo Domingo in the snow. And then, there is your story telling about meeting Gilberto. He did appreciate your Spanish, one way or another. And I look forward to next week's blog, in which he will be featured. Encounters of the First Kind. How could one not like that? (The eggs were probably some of the best ever.) Series or book, it will be a thing of elegant prose and beautiful photography. Mochas gracias, Amigo!