Drew calls Santa Fe our "Motherland". It is where my father was born, and where my grandfather built his adobe home, on their family land with his father and his brother. So, My great grandfather and his two sons had built adobe homes, in what is now part of the old historic downtown plaza. The homes are all still there and rich artists live in them. My dad traveled back and forth to New Mexico for the festivals regularly, until he was about 13. We decided to see Santa Fe with my dad, so that he could share this bit of family history with all of us.
We were so tired from all the recent graduation activities, we had decided to sleep in. We got to the downtown plaza shortly after 1. We parked in the large church and explored the prayer garden. We saw at least two sign with the name Roybal inscribed on them. We met up with my Dad and Caryl. He showed us the plaza, where my grandpa had performed with his mariachi band yearly. It was a large band, and my grandfather was the lead singer. He could play the guitar, and as I remember, was real good at his style of playing. Everyone was hungry, so we stopped at a place called, "The Bite of Santa Fe."
Our tour, by the current Roybal patriarch, took us to the Loretta church. It has a miraculous stair case. It is made entirely of wood, has no nails, and no apparent means of support. It is a local legend, that has transformed this old historic church into a tourist attraction. I'm told there is even a movie based on it. They say the stairs were built by Jesus or Saint Joseph...the carpenter. It turns out that it was my family's church of choice when it was still a church, and my aunt Dora attended the school which was run by the nuns.
Around the corner was the oldest church in the country, followed by the oldest house circa 1646. Santa Fe is much more historically significant than I had known, and the bell in the oldest church was brought to the states, by the Spanish and dated 1300 something. It was hard to read, but we were all able to take turns ringing it. It's tone rang out each time, and gave me a feeling of hearing history, like I had never done before.
The whole area is filled with attempts at commercializing on this glimpse of history, in a town that has somehow managed to resist change. This may explain a lot about the Roybal family as well.
We walked a couple blocks till my dad found a dirt road and said, "There used to be a creek here." It was now mostly covered with only a small open rain drain making an appearance. He led us down the road, and pointed to where a bookstore and coffee shop was. "We used to get candy there. It was a store." We finished walking around the corner, and saw the three tiny houses that my family had built. They were classic Santa Fe, and really very charming. The streets in the area were still not paved, and the rock walls were the same as my father remembered them. The houses were all pretty well maintained, which wasn't surprising given there proximity to downtown and their architectural history. They were part of what makes Santa Fe the amazing city it is. Aside from everything being overpriced, it was really nice, and I could see myself living there. I knew my father wanted to go inside and look around, but fortunately no one came out, despite the large crowd of us, now staring and photographing the exteriors. He told us about coming back to Santa Fe as a kid. Everyone running out to meet them in the street, and the copious music that would fill the air instantly, as they arrived. My dad was walking with a cane he had just bought, since his knee was really acting up from all the walking. He looked older but wiser than I remember him from when I was a kid. I had heard these stories before, but never with the same amount of passion or conviction, and certainly never with the same visual aids. Now my own kids were able to hear them as well. Drew said, "I'm going to buy that house dad. We need to keep it in the Roybal family." A quick Zillow check brought us back to reality, as the house next door was on sale for a million dollars, and the house my grandpa built was estimated at nearly a half million. He had sold it for 10,000 dollars in 1953, and had said, "It was a pretty good deal, it was only made of straw and mud!" He thought it was worth much less! Eventually all three homes were sold, but my family wasn't the first to make the pilgrimage here. All of the other 5 siblings my dad has have came to visit it. I even suspect my own kids may return one day. It was really amazing to connect with a piece of my own history.
The Roybal tribe walked back toward the plaza. We stopped at what used to be the old store and bought Coffee in the bookstore and sat in the garden seating to chat. It was a beautiful spot. We finished our drinks and walked back to the church to end the day.
The next day we met again, but Caryl and my Dad had gotten there much earlier. Caryl was already pretty tired, so we just walked to the plaza, and checked out the Native American goods for sale. We sat for a while in the plaza, and watched everyone walk about. Caryl wanted to leave, so we said goodbye to my Dad, and decided to go out to eat at Dion's. It is a pizza place with the world's best ranch, according to Rudy. It was delicious. Thanks Rudy! The next day we packed up, and left toward Colorado.