The story of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro has the ability to cross generational lines, and nearly 417 years later, its stories and impact on the settlement of New Mexico continue to fascinate and inspire people of all ages.
Many people throughout the southwest are familiar with the story of the Camino Real and the promises of a better life and riches to the early settlers who traversed the 1500-mile trek from Mexico City to Ohkay Owingeh.
But few have knowledge of the impact of the medical mysteries that accompanied the travelers and settled itself into many modern New Mexican families.
Long before the Spaniards arrived in New Mexico through the Camino Real, the Royal Road, this route was being used by Native Americans as a trade road for salt, hides, minerals, turquoise, and pottery.
The same route was used by Juan de Onate in 1598 for his expedition into our part of the southwestern desert and again by Diego de Vargas in 1692.
Imagine now, your family, your ancestors, leaving behind everything they knew about their homes in Spain or Mexico and joining one of the expeditions to this remote and isolated land.
Illness and death were a frequent occurrence through infections, accidents, or other sicknesses.
The founding families of New Mexico were many. Only the strong ones survived and completed the journey that took 4 to 6 months.