Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spanish Ghost at the La Fonda Hotel

The La Fonda Hotel is located right on the Santa Fe Plaza, at the corner of San Francisco Street and old Santa Fe Trail. A small adobe inn was located here in the 1800s that doubled as the town courtroom. In those days, Spanish was the native language of many inhabitants as the territory had once been part of both Mexico and Spain. Local rumor has it that many men were hanged in the old building in Santa Fe's wild west days.

In the 1980's, when I first moved here, I invited my Cuban friend, Santa, to join me for lunch in the cafe.  As you can see above the dining room is a Santa Fe style delight, with plenty of decor and natural light. Locals still hung out at the bar in those days. We ordered green chili enchiladas and Santa headed out briefly to use the facilities. For me, I experience no ghosts or funny presence,  just good food and beautiful surroundings. But my friend returned to the table with a frown and speaking in garbled Spanish.

"What's up?" I asked.

"There's no on in the corridor leading to the restroom is very lonely," she said.

"It's a Tuesday," I suggested as a reason.

"But I met a man in a serape and a large hat."

"Is he cute?" I asked.

"No. He was an old man, with a mustache. He spoke to me in Spanish."

"It's not so unusual," I responded. "Many local people are bi-lingual. What did he say?"

"Voy a morir," she said.

"What does it mean?"

"I am going to die."

"Okay, that's odd."

"Me van a ahorcar."


"It means, 'I will hang.'"

We paid and left the restaurant to search for the man in the serape, but no one was in the corridor or the lobby of the restaurant. So we asked the desk clerk if she had seen such a man.

"No, but a couple of our guests have seen him. He's a ghost from the old days. A man who was hung here on this spot before this hotel was built."

"Do you know his name?"

"No. In those days, justice was swift. Many men were tried and convicted on this spot, or so my boss tells me."

Santa and I walked out onto the plaza, and were glad of the bright sun. My friend has since become quite ill and unable to communicate, and I miss her. But I have many memories, including that strange meal at La Fonda on the plaza in Santa Fe.


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