Photo: Le Mahieu
by Lisbeth Vazquez
Editor’s Note: This story is published in We’Ced Youth Magazine Issue #3
“Where do you live?”
“Where is that?”
That is a common exchange that most people in El Nido have probably heard. I started hearing it more and more during my freshman year at Golden Valley High School, when my friends would ask me where I came from. Also, at a recent We’Ced meeting, when I was sharing my topic for this article and said I was writing about El Nido, another group member said, “What’s that? Isn’t it in South America?”
It’s funny how even some people who have been living in Merced for a long time don’t even know El Nido exists. I feel it’s funny, but at the same time I’m shocked because El Nido is so close!
El Nido is a town just 11 miles south of Merced on the way to Los Banos on Highway 59. El Nido is pretty small in size and I mean small. It is only 3.3 square miles and the population, according to the 2010 Census, is 625. Just by the fact that there aren’t many people here, we all know everybody or at least have seen them before. There is a lot more farms and dairies than there are actual houses.
[pullquote_left]It’s funny how even some people who have been living in Merced for a long time don’t even know El Nido exists. I feel it’s funny, but at the same time I’m shocked because El Nido is so close![/pullquote_left]
We also currently have only one K-8 school: El Nido Elementary School, which has about 160 students in total. Mrs. Iniguez, a 3rd grade teacher who has been teaching at El Nido for 13 years, says she really enjoys working in a small community because you know most of the people and it’s very quiet.
Jacqueline Anderson, an El Nido resident, has been living here since she was born. She went to school at El Nido Elementary and her grandchildren are currently attending there also, which makes them the fourth generation raised in El Nido.
During our interview, Mrs. Anderson told me really interesting things about the history of El Nido, things that most people might not know. For example, the Flanagans are known to be one of the few “first families” left in El Nido. In fact, they are the ones who came up with the name El Nido, which means “the nest” in Spanish, because there seemed to be a lot of black birds in the area. Mrs. Susie Flanagan also opened the first library in El Nido in 1916 at her home.
There were also 7 gas pumps lined up in El Nido along Highway 59, which aren’t there anymore. There was also a K-8 school where El Nido Hall is now, until the current El Nido Elementary School was built in 1952.