We’ve been following El Camino Real since we left Las Cruces. Translated as The Royal Road, el camino is the old Spanish road that runs from Mexico City to Santa Fe. It started as a native trade route and was used by the conquistadores and the settlers, then the missionaries and pioneers. Originally 1500 miles long, only a few ruts in the desert floor are visible now.
Yesterday we spent some time looking at the history at the new El Camino Real International Heritage Centre Foundation. This sculpture marks the road to the museum, which has fascinating displays and photographs of the early times and the peoples that used the road.
The 90 miles between Las Cruces and T or C is known as the Journada del Muerto, the dead man’s journey, because the trail passed through a broad desert with no available water, the river being far below in a canyon.
At the north end of the Journada del Muerto is the town of Socorro, where we stayed last night. Soccoro was founded in 1598 by Don Juan de Onate and a group of colonists. Its name derives from the Spanish word for help, because the native pueblo there was welcoming to the settlers. We walked around the old plaza area and saw the oldest Catholic Church in New Mexico, then had a great dinner at a bistro on the plaza.
It seemed that only the church and bistro were active though, even though it was a Saturday afternoon and evening. Everything else was deserted. Socorro is another forlorn, almost depressed place. I think you could pick this house up for a song--that is if you wanted to live there for some peculiar reason.
And when it came time to find a place for our motorhome, we didn’t find Socorro all that welcoming. There were two places, equally dismal and neither of them had bathrooms or showers. Tom’s RV looked like this, with dusty trailers parked in a dirt lot surrounded by junk.
The sad thing is that it appeared people occupy these full time. Not an inspiring way to live.