Study of Travelers on the Camino Real

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Study of Travelers on the Camino Real

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When Spain and Mexico still governed what is today California, Texas, and the modern American Southwest, the Spanish speaking settlements in these areas were some of the most isolated places on the planet. The nearest European contact was in Mexico City, a distance of over 1000 miles, depending where you were at in this vast country. All manufactured and trade goods had to be brought to this area on horseback, over a difficult and dangerous terrain. There were basically three different routes of El Camino Real (the King’s Road) from Mexico City into this deep interior. El Camino de California went north through present day Yuma, Arizona and then north to the missions on the California coast, ending at Mission San Francisco Solano. The Camino Real de los Texas crossed the Rio Grande near present day Laredo, traveling to Bexar (today’s San Antonio) and ending at the Sabine River in east Texas. The El Camino Real de Tierra Adento (the interior King’s Road) stretched from Mexico City north into New Mexico terminating at San Juan Pueblo. This route was also known as the Silver Road. All of these routes followed ancient Native American footpaths established as trade routes over many centuries of use. They were primarily traveled by horseback and pack mule, as the routes were very difficult and rough to bring wagons and carts over. If you lived in any of these early European settlements, your only contact with the outside world was through these long and dangerous paths.
I painted this to allow one to think about isolation. Myself, I practically live a hermits life. My isolation is not caused by vast dangerous distances, yet I seem to avoid a great deal of contact with fellow human beings, particularly people I don’t share political or cultural beliefs with. I have very fragile Camino Reals with such people, and I am not sure that is such a good thing. It is so easy to distrust someone and their beliefs and values when you don’t have much personal experience with them; I allow too much anecdotal innuendo to influence my take in this kind of situation.
This is not a good thing. In many ways I am like some settler isolated from the rest of the world, unwilling to take the risks of a journey on my CAMINO REAL.

-Michael Untiedt

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