We have our own traditions and folklore, ours is Las Posadas which is religious as well as Los Pastores. Los Pastores is a musical play that has been around here for many years; we got the play from an uncle of my mother’s that his family had in 1902. It is all in the King’s Spanish. And the words are different but the play is about the night becoming the day, and how the angel shone the light on the shepherds, and how the light was so bright, the night became day…But it is all Spanish, part musical, and so that is one of ours that we are trying to bring back this coming year. It hadn’t been here since about four years, but it is very hard, the Spanish is very hard for them, the kids do not know how to read Spanish so it is very hard for them to recite. The last time we did it I told them “okay, you can read from the script” so we did it that way. But it’s a beautiful play and it used to be the elders that performed it. So we are trying to get the kids into it, and there are some kids right now that are interested in keeping tradition
We still take the Holy Week Meal to the neighbors. Not very many people do but we still do. It is like a Seder meal, both Thursday and Friday. You take dishes like panocha, or it could be natillas which is a traditional New Mexican desert, arroz con pasas (sweet rice), corn fritters, torta de huevo.
Growing up in Villanueva
The youth here, we all got along well; we never really got into fights, or called each other names or anything like that. And if you got caught lying in school the teachers were responsible and you would pay for it when you got home. So you used to try to stay away from trouble. The older people were very well respected, but now there is not much respect for them, the kids now days they have everything. The kids then had a lot more respect. We didn’t have telephones, or ipads or igames or whatever they are, we didn’t even have a car, we didn’t have the money. There is no cell service here, and back then we only could get one radio station here at 7:30 in the morning. And there was no reception after that until 4:00 when we could get the Las Vegas station. And if we were good they would let us listen to KOMA and it was only for an hour or so.
Challenges in Villanueva
Drugs coming in have really changed things, it’s clear if you left before that it is happening here. The other thing that I think it has a lot to do with is mass and the pledge of allegiance. Keeping church and state separate but you have to believe in something, something higher up; even if you don’t mention his name, there is a greater spirit up there who you have to respect and honor. Before once you were baptized they would also confirm you as a baby, then you would make your first holy communion. There were like steps that you would follow in your life, and now when you make your first communion then you get confirmed at 14 or 15. But the kids don’t want to, they don’t want to get confirmed and when they get married they get married outside of the church.
I was taught that if someone is hungry, you feed them. There is a lot of people here who need help and I give as much as I can without asking anything in return. I help the soup kitchen in Las Vegas, I give to people that don’t have food here, I collect food and give it to them, I try to help the elders who don’t have a way to pay the heat in their houses and little things like that out of the kindness in my heart. I don’t expect anything in return. Here I want the kids to get involved in the community, they need to get involved. I mean one of the most important things kids need to learn is how to tend their fields and gardens, how to tend cattle and how to do those types of things especially living here in Villanueva.
If you want to live here in Villanueva, for me it’s very important that you teach the kids skills. I was just involved in SkillsUSA, I spent four days in Albuquerque, I was a judge for them. Skills USA are for kids that are in secondary and post-secondary schools that are learning a trade. Then they compete. I was just amazed at these kids in the competitions. There were no representatives from this part of the state, the closest was from Santa Fe and it was culinary arts. The majority of them were from Ruidoso, Deming and those areas and to my surprise, the majority of them were being bussed in from Mexico and they were the ones that won all the gold and silver metals and the scholarships. And it was in everything, like reporting, photography, culinary arts, masonry, nursing, dentistry – and here nothing. What I believe, is that here they live in the free USA and they don’t want to apply themselves and they don’t know what they are missing out on. So my goals this year is to be able to get a group going from schools here to compete for SkillsUSA. These kids that competed are now going to Kentucky to compete nationally, then worldwide. So you need to teach them a skill. The schools need to get bacl to teaching skills. I was very impressed by them, you need to learn the basics, like life basics 101. The kids really need it. We also need to get the kids involved in the summertime with activities, and the parents involved too. And not only for free things but just to be able to the get the kids to socialize because in school that is the only socialization that they may have and that is just not right. That’s my personal opinion.
I remember a time when some kids from Highlands or UNM, I can’t remember, came and tried to interview my mom but she was part Native American and didn’t say a word, all she said was “yes, no, yes, no”. She said “I’m not going to give them my history,” but I said “we need it for the books, for the kids.”