Hondo means “deep.” (Although it looks like Honda, the h is silent.) Hondos are low spots in arroyos; they can also turn up in quebradas and canyons. It is a term heard often in the Southwest. Mary Austin, in Land of Journeys’ Ending, features a New Mexican hondo: “After it issues from the Culebra into the valley of Taos, there is no sound but of the river’s own making in the Arroyo Hondo, where it runs, or perhaps as it passes Valdez and the village of Hondo.” If a book, like Austin’s, is profound, it is muy hondo. Where land is lower than its surroundings, as in a hollow, vale, or depression, the area often gets called a hondo, though the proper word would be hondonada. Various lakes and features like meander scars bear the name Hondo, as do creeks and towns in the American Southwest. One can readily see, though, that these features are usually in, or near, a lowland feature.

Luis Alberto Urrea