Throughout my career, I have had many coincidences that make me think we live in a small world.
One of the most interesting things happened when I was director of the New Mexico Board of Trade and Tourism in Mexico City. When I arrived, I toured the various Mexican federal agencies, introducing myself and my state. In this regard, I have scheduled a meeting with a senior official (I will call him âTMâ) at the Secretariat of Foreign Relations of Mexico.
I arrived at the meeting and was escorted into the ornate TM office, worthy of an important federal official. TM, a Mexican of Polish descent, was a tall man, well over 6 feet tall and hoarse. As I told him about the new New Mexico trade office in Mexico City and its functions, TM looked at me sternly. I started to get nervous thinking he was mad at me for taking his precious time. I finished my introduction and he looked at me with that stern look for what seemed like several seconds.
Then he said, âYou said you were from New Mexico, where? “
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I told him my hometown was EspaÃ±ola and I wondered why he would ask. He then put his hands on that desk and said in a loud voice, âLet me tell you something about New Mexico and Spain. “
Oh no, I thought to myself, he’s had a bad experience in my condition.
TM then told me how he and his future wife left Mexico City to attend New York University. When they graduated they decided to buy a used car to tour the United States on the way back to Mexico City. While traveling through New Mexico en route to Santa Fe, their car broke down in EspaÃ±ola and they had to wait several days for parts to arrive. I collapsed in my chair thinking something even worse had happened to them in my hometown.
TM said he and his future wife had rented a hotel room and did not want to stay locked up while their car was fixed. They concocted a scheme to visit northern New Mexico by calling a real estate agent under the pretext that they wanted to buy a ranch. The agent drove them to several locations and then took them to Dixon, New Mexico, where they fell in love with a property. On a whim, they decided to buy the property and live there, which they named âLa Chiripadaâ.
They lived there for several years until family obligations forced them to return to Mexico. He told me that living on this ranch in northern New Mexico was one of the happiest times of his life.
His face then burst into a smile and he reached out to shake my hand and said, “You are from Spain, New Mexico, and you will receive the full support of my office for everything. what you need. “
I couldn’t believe my luck. I worked with TM the rest of my tenure managing my overseas office.
In 1977 Pat Johnson, his wife and brother, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, purchased La Chiripada ranch from TM. He was a self-proclaimed hippie who had fought for social justice in various places and, like TM, had fallen in love with northern New Mexico. In 1982, they decided to have a go at winemaking, creating one of New Mexico’s oldest modern-era wineries. New Mexico is the oldest European wine region in what is now the United States, with wine brought to the state by early Spanish settlers, but this craft fell into disuse as winemaking became massively commercial. .
On a recent trip to see the land I have in the Mora Valley, where my family is from, I stopped in Dixon to meet the owners of La Chiripada and tell them my story. Pat and his wife listened intently, and Pat told me he knew he bought the ranch from TM, but didn’t have all the details of its story. When they bought the ranch, they inherited a small wooden sign with the words La Chiripada on it, but didn’t know what the words meant. I was surprised when Pat’s wife showed me the original sign hanging in front of their house.
Pat told me that TM had visited the area about 15 years ago and was surprised at what the Johnsons had done with his little ranch. In another turn of the story, he told them he had always dreamed of establishing a vineyard on the property, which he hadn’t been able to do until he returned to Mexico.
After buying the ranch, the Johnsons began to ask what the chiripada meant. The word is used more in Mexico than in northern New Mexico, so at first they weren’t very lucky. They eventually got in touch with someone from Mexico who told them that chiripada was a saying that meant “fluke” in Mexican Spanish. They liked the expression so much that they decided to name their winery La Chiripada.
The chiripada certainly applies to TM’s time in northern New Mexico, which he never anticipated. This applies to the Johnsons, who bought a beautiful ranch named after a phrase they didn’t understand, and on which they managed to establish one of the best wineries in New Mexico. And finally, the chiripada is for me for making a friend in Mexico City who has supported my office and its goals during my tenure there. This also applies to how lucky I was to meet the Johnsons and to be able to tell my new friends about the personal connection we all have between Mexico City, EspaÃ±ola and Dixon.
Jerry Pacheco is the Executive Director of the International Business Accelerator, a nonprofit business advisory program of the New Mexico Small Business Development Centers Network. He can be reached at 575-589-2200 or [email protected]