Part Two of Feliz Cumpleaños Dad…my pilgrimage trip to New Mexico in honor of my dad.
We awoke on Friday, Oct 26, to the heavenly smell of coffee!!! Thank you Danda! Much needed after the wonderful and late night of reconnecting, food and drink. After Danda headed to work, we got ourselves ready, packed up the car and headed to El Patio Restaurant for a breakfast of huevos rancheros and green chiles! I think it goes without saying that the food on this trip was fabulous!
After dropping Cecilia off at her house, we were on the road to Carlsbad! It’s about a four and a half hour drive and we enjoyed every minute of it, catching up and sharing even more stories. We made a brief stop in Roswell to check out the extraterrestrials and arrived in Carlsbad late in the afternoon, checked into the Holiday Inn and headed directly over to Aunt Gloria’s house (also called Aunt Yoya). We didn’t stay too long because she needed rest but we were able to sit with her in her bedroom for a while. We then spent a little time with Uncle Mando and two of their children, Orlando and Rosie.
On Saturday (Oct 27), we went back to Aunt Yoya’s house for a longer visit and she was able to stay up a lot longer! Maybe it was the excitement of having us there and all the stories she wanted to share that helped. It was certainly a thrill for us as we looked through her wedding album. We also got to meet Alfonso and Mary Noriega. Mary, Aunt Yoya and Lisa’s mom, Mela were all friends…Mary remarked how much she saw of Mela in Lisa’s face.
After our visit we took a tour of Carlsbad with our fearless guide, Lisa! She drove us by the Main Street house where our grandparents used to live, drove by an area they called the beach, and Lisa pointed out other interesting sights to us as she recalled Carlsbad as a little girl. She even took us on the “weee” – a small hill in the road that always made them want to say “weee.! That was such a sweet memory and now Kanista and I were in on it too!
We lunched at a little place called Lucy’s and where a woman walked by and recognized Lisa. It was Rachel, cousin Bobby Fernandez’s sister! Bobby had called to tell her we would be in Carlsbad so she must have been on the lookout for us. From there we went by to see Olivia, Lisa’s late brother Ruby’s wife. Her daughter Sylvia – “Syba” – was getting ready for her birthday Halloween party and invited us to come back that evening.
Meanwhile, we decided to head over to the cemetery to find our grandparents headstone. After much searching, we realized we were in the wrong cemetery! Turns out, our family is in the older cemetery and as we drove by we saw the Zuniga headstone. Now let me explain something…we had been walking around the newer cemetery – all green grass and open – and could not find our grandparents. But when we got to the older cemetery – brown dirt and no grass – it was chain-locked! Really??? We couldn’t believe it. But, I would not be deterred! I told Kanista and Lisa I had come too far not to get in…so…I broke in! Actually…I just pushed the gates and they opened. So, we took a little time and walked around, explored and found some of our family headstones.
After freshening up at the hotel, we headed over to Syba’s birthday/Halloween party and met a few more cousins – Danny and Johnny, grandson’s of Maria Fernandez – Maria was my grandfather’s sister. We had a ball at the party – trying jello shooters, dancing, and laughing about being called “guera” by some of the guests. Guera is slang for a white girl or light-haired girl, which didn’t really seem to fit me or Kanista at ALL! At any rate, we ended day three of our trip exhausted but exhilarated by the people who seemed to be put in our path on our journey. Kanista, Lisa and I all agreed our fathers seemed to have a hand in what was happening to us in Carlsbad.
Part Three concludes our Carlsbad Adventure/Pilgrimage to Carlsbad…stay tuned…