I stopped in Cerrillos for a beer.
Known as a ghost town, I couldn't tell if it was a real community or one of those made up tourist traps.
One lap around the gravel road shanties, with their plots of dust-bitten office chairs and men with fixed dead-eyed stares, confirmed its authenticity.
Also, I didn't have to pay $40 to enter.
I parked in front of a dilapidated tavern.
Mary's Bar.
The sign said ABIERTO.
A leathery, wind-burnt man stood outside, privately sputtering his Tourette's.
I asked him if the bar was open, even though I knew what abierto meant.
He said yeah with a calm refinement I wasn't expecting.
The flimsy screen door led to a dark musty room, extremely cluttered.
A cat or two scattered across the floor.
Another two cats lazed on the bar.
"Hello?" I asked into the dust.
What am I doing?
For a moment I imagined the wind-burnt man behind me, splitting my head open with a fast hatchet, and feeding my brains to the cats.
And then selling my meat to the locals.
In 3D.

"Are you open?"
A tough feminine voice answered in the affirmative.
Its owner emerged with guarded politeness, her long grey hair in a ponytail.
"Is this a bar or a store?" I asked, even though I knew it was a bar.
"It's both," she said.
I got a Corona because the Negra Modelos were warm.
She turned on an old Budweiser sign, and the words COLD BEER added 6% more light to the room.
Then she pulled up a stool and joined me for my drink.
"Are you Mary?"
"I'm her daughter."

In the 1880's Cerrillos was a big mining town.
Gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, and of course turquoise.
There were 21 saloons and four hotels.
The railroad passed along the downtown.
I don't know what happened.
Nothing I guess.

While two cats remained inert on the bar, Mary's daughter and I discussed filmmaking.
The bar had been used as a filming location a few times.
Young Guns, Young Guns II, John Carpenter's Vampires.
She said she would never work with wrestlers ever again.
They tore the place up and stiffed her on payment.
Sounds like they stayed in character.

I asked her about the wildfires.
She said they were about 50% contained.
The flames had found the scars of previous wildfires and were blazing through those again.
"Like a rerun," I said.

The groggy cats blobbed around on their backs.
Mary's daughter shuffled a map out from underneath somewhere and suggested a scenic route for tomorrow.
She mentioned a few haunted spots.
I wish I believed in ghosts.

Cerrillos was what I needed.
Mary's Bar came through.


  1. pfft, she seems nice. She'd have opened up. Everyday the only customer she gets invariably asks her the same question, "are you open?", because the lack of other business/lighting make it seem as if she's not. I'll bet that's depressing.

    At least she has her cats.

  2. Mary is still living. Next door Cerrillos Station is opening where the What Not Shop was. There will be a mercantile, gallery dance, yoga studio and day spa. That's right a day spa! During the grand opening on April 23rd Kathy (Mary's daughter) will have a wine tasting. The future is embraced by history. Some things change and some will whisper stories of the past. check out https://CerrillosStation.com