Yesterday’s post on the ghost town of Fierro, NM was heavily historical. In the introduction, I painted a portrait of Fierro as entirely vacant, quiet as a stone, a place where humans rarely tread these days. While that is relatively true, it’s not the entire picture, even aside from services at St. Anthony’s Mission Catholic Church and the occasional family reunion. Fierro does get visited and, judging by the evidence, its visitors are an interesting bunch. So, I thought it would be worth taking a look at who’s been there recently and what they’ve left behind. There might even be something here that'd be useful to know if you’re thinking of making the trip yourself.
Most of the graffiti in Fierro is in the house shown at bottom, which was last owned by the Araujo family, who also operated Araujo’s Grocery in the building next door.
Judging by the stencils, it’s possible the same person wrote this stanza on the back of Araujo’s Grocery itself: Las igyanas (sic) vendrán a morder a los hombres que no sueñan. This is a slight rearranging of a line from Federico Garcia Lorca’s poem, Ciudad sin sueño (Nocturno del Brooklyn Bridge), written in 1929-1930. The translation is: “Iguanas will come to bite the men who do not dream.” Lorca’s work is often pretty surrealistic, but, to me, he is inciting his reader NOT to sleep, but to do, in which case being bitten by iguanas is, in fact, a worthy and motivating experience.
Lorca was executed by a firing squad loyal to Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1936, and appears in The Clash tune Spanish Bombs. (“Federico Lorca is dead and gone.”) The Pogues composed an entire song to him, Lorca’s Novena, in which his corpse walks away. Seeing Lorca’s words as graffiti in a ghost town is quite rare.
Other visitors to Fierro would seem to include members of Sur 13, the Sureños, a prison gang allied with the Mexican Mafia, MS-13, and the Crips. Their tag is visible in the shot above, as well as elsewhere inside the house.
So, while for many ghost towns it is their history that compels, it’s also true that these places have a present and a population of sorts, even if transient. As always, it is only the future which remains uncertain.