Que Viva Española: The “Duenditos” in the Apple Orchard
By Steven Eric Lovato
I grew up here in Chamita, surrounded by my Abuelos family. Not too far from the turn off to El Duende. Which at that time included my bisabuela Luisita who lived across the street. Because she was in here eighties, my Abuelo tended to her daily. I would accompany him most of the time to her house. And normally I was the only child there so I would sit quietly and listen to them converse in Spanish, often times sharing cuentos and when they wanted to have a conversation on adult things my Abuelo would say to me “vaya afuera y comer un manzana.” So I’d make my way outback to the apple orchard and splurge on the various apples they grew.
One cuento that was a common theme throughout my childhood was about the “duneditos” that roamed in the Bosque behind the apple orchard that accompanies the Rio Chama River. To translate that for those who don’t speak Spanish, “EL Duende” means the “elf/goblin.” My Tia would share stories about them hiding in the bushes and tall grass that surrounded the place and when nobody was looking they would snatch the apples from the ground and take them back to where they lived. And if you’re lucky you’ll see half eaten apples they left behind. So when I use to walk around I would search for half eaten apples. To which I found and at that time I was convinced I found evidence of the duenditos.
Now that I’m older I’m sure it was just the left over’s from the skunk or when I use to go pick the apples with my Abuelo and Tio. My Tio, in his joking way use to scare me by telling me that if I didn’t pick them fast enough, the duenditos would come and snatch me. Looking back that was probably just a ply to get me to work faster. But at that age I was convinced they existed. So I would hurry and pick as many as I could, hoping the duendtios wouldn’t come out of nowhere and somehow take me. However there were a few brave occasions where I use to trek around with a stick, poking and prodding the bushes hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of these creatures.
Unfortunately I never had the privilege of seeing them for myself. I’m much older now, somewhat wiser. Or so I’d like to think. And my Bisabuela, Abuela and my Tio have since. This cuento, fiction or non is part of a childhood I was fortunate to have, filled with love and traditions. Perhaps they don’t exist and it’s just a story. But it’s one I’ll forever cherish and share with anyone willing to listen.