Life in the Primo 500: Chili powder and a CD


By Pat Martinez-Lopez

PREVIEW Columnist

I must’ve been 3 or 4 years old when my dad took me to visit his father’s brother, Tio Fidel Martinez, who lived in the lower Blanco Basin.

To get there, we had to drive across the river near the rock cliff in Trujillo.

“Hold on,” my dad said, in English, and to this day I clearly remember him saying it in English, even though he spoke Spanish most of the time.

“Hold on,” he said, and then he slipped the gear shift into compound and we slowly made our way across the rocks in the river.

To this day, I can still see where I placed my hands on the dashboard of our 1951 Chevrolet farm truck to steady myself,  I can still hear the barandales creaking, and I can still feel the excitement which drummed my heart and tingled my brain.

It’s been over 50 years, but I still see everything so clearly.  On the dashboard, my hands are clean, so I’m sure someone must’ve caught me and scrubbed me clean before we left the ranch in Carmel, otherwise, dad would’ve left me home with my siblings.  And I’m pretty sure my siblings are the ones who caught me, so he wouldn’t.  But the one thing that I remember most from that day is that I learned there is always more than one way to reach a destination and that — even if there is a riverbed of obstacles in the way — I will learn something new if I just, “hold on.”

Is it any wonder then, that “How’s It Made?” is my favorite television show and that “How do you do that?” is my favorite question? For me, it’s not so much about the knowing how that’s important. It’s the learning how.

So, I’m still in school and I’m still learning, but this year, folks, guess what?  We’re going to learn together.  And the thing that we’re going to learn together is how to procure and sell the very same red chili powder that I usually stop to purchase for my relatives on both sides of the San Juan River whenever I’m down in Espanola for any reason, which — for the last six years —  has been a lot.

Why do we want to learn how to sell chili powder?  This is going to be the number one fund-raiser in our efforts to help the Marquez girls record a CD.

I know there’s some money to be made doing this. I’ve watched Espanola Valley High School’s Mariachi group do it for years; in fact, that’s where I was getting all the chili.  But they’re no longer selling chili, much to my disappointment.  So, I’m hoping that you’re as willing to learn how to do this as I am, and that you’re as willing to help.  Please, please, don’t say, “Hell no!”  I don’t want to be filled with anticipointment.  That’s a tad more disheartening than disappointment, but more crushing to the ego.  Right now, my hopes are really riding high.

So, if you want to learn with me —  beginning in the spring or early summer — I want you to help me get the word out that we’re going to be selling a bunch of red chili powder next fall for $6 dollars a pound.  It’s too late to do this now — most people have already frozen or canned all the green chili they’ll need until the next crop, as well as dried or purchased their red chili powder.  But if we get the word out in the spring, maybe next fall they’ll buy our red chili powder instead.

It’s darn good chili powder. Just ask Debbie and LeRoy Lucero, or the members of my family, or Irene and Tony Gurule.  And to help us get started, I’ll start taking orders now. You’re going to love the new e-mail address I created solely for this purpose. It’s

And now for some news regarding the Land Of Enchantment Teacher Quality Partnership Grant.  On Nov. 2, 2012, at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola, the Educator Support Center is hosting the second annual Special Education Academy.  Each session is geared towards helping teachers improve their skill in one or more area of Special Education.  For example, one of our session is titled, “How to write Common Core State Standards into IEP Goals and Objectives” and another, “How to arrive at the IEP Meeting in Style (that is, very prepared).  The academy is free and lunch is provided.  To register, contact

Know you are loved,

Pat Martinez-Lopez