Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ghosts of Old Mesilla

I LOVE Mesilla, New Mexico, a little town just south of Las Cruces. The first permanent residents settled here in 1848. Thanks to a mistaken Yankee mapmaker, Mesilla was in "no man's land." When most of the state was ceded to the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it was discovered that the depiction on the map was wrong and a little chunk of southwest New Mexico and a slice of southern Arizona were unaccounted for. The Gadsden purchase in 1853, settled the boundary dispute. The old town clustered around a central plaza -- a defense against raiding Apaches. Many of the buildings here date back to the 1850s.
Our group was led on a walking tour of the historic district by Preciliana, an enthusiastic and voluble guide dressed as an "adelita" -- a female "soldier" in the army of Pancho Villa.

She regaled us with stories of Old Mesilla and ghosts of days gone by. One of her best stories concerned the building that now houses the Double Eagle restaurant. Though not approaching its current opulence, the home was large and impressive for its time. The matriarch of the Maes family, the owners, had grand plans for her son Armando -- no local senorita was good enough. Armando, however, fell in love with Inez, one of his mother's maids. When Senora Maes discovered this, she drove Inez from the house. But not from the arms of Armando. One afternoon, returning earlier than expected, Mama Maes found Armando and Inez in an intimate situation in Armando's room. Grabbing her sewing scissors, she stabbed Inez. In the struggle, she also stabbed Armando -- killing the two lovers. The star-crossed specters still inhabit the property.
Today the highly popular restaurant has a reputation for fine cuisine -- and they make a mean Margarita. There are a number of dining areas -- from the twinkle-light-bedecked enclosed patio to the elegant gold Maximillian room with its Baccarat crystal chandeliers.

There are two chairs in the corner of Carlotta's Room (once Armando's bedroom) said to belong to the ill-fated couple. Superstitious people refuse to sit in them. I am not one of those people. No shrieking shades followed me into the night and my slumber was undisturbed.

1 comment:

Dorkys Ramos said...

I still can't believe you went right ahead and plopped on that chair! I'm not entirely superstitious, but ghost stories freak me out.

It was so nice meeting you, by the way! Hope you had a smooth flight home. My second flight to NYC was delayed by two hours, but I ran into an old high school BFF in the waiting area :)