Geographically, New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the country after Alaska, Texas California, and Montana. Buried in the swathe of more than 121,000 miles of sand and caliche are the countless lives that traipsed its boundaries from the four corners of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Colorado to the border of Mexico. Through war, famine, drought, epidemics and life’s inevitable aging process millions of lives have ended here. Buried beneath New Mexico’s magnificent vistas are the people that became a part of history in small and big ways. Today, many of the spirited live on through the legends in New Mexico’s ghost stories.
The Wailing Woman
La Llorona, the wailing woman, is an important part of New Mexico cultural folklore. The legend may have originated in 1520 with the Spanish conquest of Mexico. One story claims that La Malinche was the Indian mistress of the conquistador Hernan Cortes. Through the betrayal to her native people she is banished from society and is destined to eternity to roam the riverbeds and streets of Santa Fe, northern New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest in search of her lost children, which is metaphoric of her lost culture.
Dancing With a Ghost
The tale of Dancing with a Ghost took place at the turn of the 20th century in northern New Mexico. Ricardo was a local young man who had just returned from active duty in the army. As he was driving along the single-lane mountain road into town to attend the Saturday night dance he noticed a beautiful young woman walking along side the road. The young soldier stopped and offered her a ride into town which she gratefully accepted. She said that her name was Cruzita Delgado and that she too was on her way to the dance. When the couple arrived people took notice of their arrival since no one recognized the beautiful strange who accompanied Ricardo.
Night Turns to Day
The couple ended up spending the whole night together dancing. When they left the dance hall a chill had set in the high desert mountain air. Always the gentleman Ricard draped his military jacker over Cruzita’s shoulder. The young woman asked to be dropped off at the same location where Ricardo had first seen her earlier that evening. The next day he went back to find her but all he found was an old abandoned adobe home. Up the hill behind the home he saw a headstone with his coat draped over it. When Ricardo went to investigate he saw that the tombstone read Cruzita Delgado, Que Descansen en Paz, Rest in Peace. Only then did he realize that the night before dancing with a ghost!