By MARY BETH MAASSEN
His name is Liberato Garcia, and he was my contact for a recent excursion to Ghost Ranch.
I have been to Ghost Ranch many times, usually for workshops or meetings. This time I was making the visit accompanied by a bride-to-be, for a site tour. We are looking for the ideal wedding and reception location. With the dramatic red cliffs as a backdrop, Ghost Ranch is high on the list.
Liberato, or Libby, as he introduces himself, is a multi-generational Abiquiu native. He is the grandson of Napolean Garcia, the famous raconteur and author of “The Genizaro and The Artist: Stories of New Mexico Villages”. Napolean worked with Georgia O’Keeffe, and acted as a one-man tourism department for his village after his retirement from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). As Libby speaks of his grandfather, and his parents, who for many years worked the Wildlife Sanctuary on the highway next to Ghost Ranch, his pride in his family is evident. “Just Google my grandfather’s name, it is all right there,” he tells me.
Libby explains Ghost Ranch was originally known as “Rancho de los Brujos” or “Ranch of the Witches” because outlaws and cattle rustlers used the location as a hideout, and a reputation as a haunted and evil place kept the neighbors and law enforcement away.
Rancho de los Brujos eventually evolved to Ghost Ranch, but it still beckoned those who were looking for sanctuary. Back in the day it was a dude ranch for the rich and famous, and in the early days at LANL, it sometimes served as a retreat for scientists looking for a little relaxation. For nearly 60 years Ghost Ranch has been an active retreat and education center. Libby shares each story with enthusiasm, smiling and nodding as he chats, encouraging questions.
Libby extolls the virtues of each potential wedding site, he explains in detail the resources that Ghost Ranch offers, and he speaks very highly of his supervisors and his co-workers. Libby is genuine, polite, pleasant, patient, and very informative. I am guessing he has not received any formal training in “meeting and exceeding customer expectations” I think it is just his nature. WOW! How refreshing is that!
Lately the state of the nation, and reported state of human condition that I read about every day, has left me feeling pretty disheartened and beaten. A single afternoon at Ghost Ranch has changed that.
Cheerful Liberato Garcia has inspired me to rethink relationships with family, friends, and my environment. As someone (and I think by now probably everyone) said, “You may not be able to change the situation, but you can change your response to the situation.”
Maybe, like Libby, I need to be the one who provides the inspiration and encouragement, instead of always looking for others to inspire and encourage me.