In a cauldron of high mountains and deep valleys, in Sonoran deserts and deep arroyos, mix a cup of Hispanic blood, a clay vessel of Indian blood, a tablespoon of French blood and a teaspoonful of Anglo blood. Sprinkle a half-a-handful of Chimayo chile, a pinch of Guadalupe Hidalgo chile peppers. Rash a dash of raiz-de-nuestra tierra (root of our land) and a sliver of root of Spanish culture.
Mix these ingredients in the slowness of time, then sprinkle with drops of individualism, some spirits of pragmatism, and a drop or two of adventure. Cover concoction with fresh leaves of “yerba de las haciendas perdidas (plant of lost land grants), yerba de mitote de resolana (plant of sunny-side gossip), apathy plant, leaves of the struggle-for-existence plant, loco weed of the land speculator and a generous number of leaves of political corruption.
Let the “Potaje” (potpourri) ferment under the New Mexico sun for a century, frequently serenading it with music and fiesta.
The dish resulting from these numerous ingredients are the present-day people of Questa.
Questenos are of many ilks. There are the materialistic or money-oriented; they will do almost anything that is legal to enrich their bank accounts. There are the conservatives, family oriented, whose sights are aimed at a hope in future generations, sensing the pollution in their lungs and mind. There are the apathetic who care little about most things around them, their motto: “Me importa poco.” Then there are traditionalists who stubbornly cling to their small plots of land, stubbornly resistant to strangers mingling in their affairs, resentful of the government’s reneging on what they consider their “rights” under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Finally there are the sunny-side gossipers and the local “Paisano Politicos.” Both claim some control over the lives of the people. The “Resolaneros” judge the world; the “Patrones” rule the masses (or think they do).
Poor as many of these people may be, they are proud of their legacy. They hold firmly to the idea that the land is community rather than commodity; a sacred place to be born in and in which you can be buried.
Varied as this concoction might be, it is quite capable of running its own affairs: Schools, fire department, credit union, retail businesses, government, acequia association, highway department, police department, etcetera. Apathetic as this product might be, there is enough pride, self-worth and a slow-driving ambition that has compelled it to contribute to the market place: Farmers, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, electricians. In addition: musicians, artists, singers, doctors, lawyers, educators and engineers. All these dissimilars contribute to the American dream of a grand society and opportunity.
Foreign as this product might appear, Disloyalty it has none. Despite broken promises by the government in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Questa has contributed soldiers from the Spanish American war to the Vietnam War. These native sons have served their country honorably and have taken their suffering in stride.
The cultural mix of the INDO-HISPANO-FRENCH-ANGLO-AMERICAN is a good receipt for living.
*Editors note: This piece was contributed to the Questa del Rio News anonymously. The contributor says Moises Rael, a retired Questa High School teacher wrote it, and sent it to him in 1983.