Parajes provided early travelers with sustenance, rest on El Camino Real

Updated: 08/19/2014 5:42 PM | Created: 08/19/2014 4:45 PM
By: Richard Estrada, KOB Eyewitness News 4

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the 1500-mile Royal Road of the Interior Land, served as the main route between Mexico and Santa Fe for about 300 years. Along the trail, stops or parajes every 10-15 miles allowed travelers and livestock to rest. KOB visited one of those stops on the old trail.

Read and watch Richard's first part of this story on the 'Journey of Death'.

From the Jornada del Muerto in south central New Mexico, El Camino Real followed the Rio Grande north to Socorro. Here, Natives provided sustenance for travelers who survived the trek across the Journey of Death.

The trail moved north through settlements on the banks of the Rio Grande, through Albuquerque and Pueblos, on its way to Santa Fe.

"The parajes were basically stopping spots," Michael King, of El Rancho de las Golondrinas, said. "They were about a day's trip from each other. They were usually supplied with water and grazing for animals. Rancho de las Golondrinas was a paraje that is a one-day trip from downtown Santa Fe."

Today El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living museum south of Santa Fe, interprets New Mexico's colonial life. Volunteers dress in period attire and demonstrate activities of the past.

Virginia Vigil demonstrates making tortillas an old fashion way.

"Today I am making fresh tortillas, tortillas frescas. I have some goat cheese and suero," Vigil said.

"This is what I have that's called the suero, or whey from the goat cheese, and I  add that to the tortillas because it adds flavor."

One can see why El Rancho de las Golondrinas served as a paraje on El Camino Real.

"We have a lot of natural water sources," King said. "There is lots of green grass and green trees, so it was a natural spot for people to stop. And the families would welcome the travelers, give them hospitality and give them food, and the people would be onto Santa Fe the next day."

Since 2000, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road of the Interior Land, has been a National Historic Trail operated by the National Parks Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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