We live in Costilla County Colorado which is a county that is in South central Colorado. It has the San Luis valley that runs the length of the county. This valley is so large it can be clearly seen from the International Space Station. It runs between the San Juan mountain range and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Our county seat is San Luis which is the oldest city in Colorado. It was part of the territory of New Mexico until the State of Colorado was formed in 1861. That leaves a lot of room for a very rich history. The original town was formed by Hispanic settlers many of whom trace their heritage back to Old Spain Castile. While Castilian is actually a specific language, many of the current residents of San Luis and surrounding areas are 5th or 6th generation Castilian and direct descendants for the original settlers.
That is pretty much the heritage and an overview of the history of San Luis, population 629. That only tell part of the story however. I have had the privilege of volunteering and working on projects with many long time residents born and raised in our community. The only time many have left is to serve in the military and then return. A visit to Veteran Park will reveal both past and current residents who have served in the military. A well maintained park that honors it military men and women.
I don’t believe I have ever lived in a community with such a rich and rewarding culture as ours has. The residents are highly intelligent, rooted in their heritage, they are warm and embrace outsiders like myself in a friendly and loving way. My relatives came from Ireland and when they ended up in the USA during the potato famine they scattered to the four winds. The residents of San Luis/Costilla County have a genuine sense of family, roots, and culture. That is something that some of us immigrants do not have and it is refreshing to experience it vicariously through them. They have made us feel very welcome and a part of the community we have come to love deeply. Not because of the physical aspects of the area but because of the warm and friendly people.
For example the photo’s included in this blog were contributed by our local newspaper the Costilla County Free Press. Iva Gallegos who is editor, publisher and custodian of this news paper puts out a quality product that keeps those of us in the county informed of events and worth while news. This is just one of the numerous examples of the warmth and generosity of our local community and culture. Having lived here now for 14 plus years I could do endless blogs on similar acts of good will. People here don’t line bird cages with the Costilla County Free Press, they read every word in it to keep up with local activities.
We consider ourselves very fortunate to have ended up here and to have made such all embracing friends within the community. I can tell you that if you are disingenuous however, these folks, as most folks will, pick up on it and therefore you might as well stay in the big city where intimacy, culture, history and roots ar rare. We found our paradise and the people to welcome us into it.
On future blogs I hope to write on other local cultural aspects of our community on occasion. What surrounds your homestead can either add to or subtract from your happiness of living where you do.