Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Texas, From Right To Left

Monday, Feb. 18, 2019

At the crack of the dawn, or better say when the dawns were thinking if they should crack, we were in the car driving. I know what I’m talking about, even if you don’t believe me, because there were clouds of flocks of starlings, perched on the wires that were holding the traffic lights, all facing the same way,  not knowing what to do, the light would change and they would start flying, and then re-perch, not enough light far away from the traffic.

Next stop: San Antonio’s Missions, a World Heritage Monument from 2015. Established by the Catholics during the 17th and 18th century, the four missions and Alamo represent (beside a form of evangelization and colonization, through the interchange between the local hunter-gatherers, the missionaries and the colonists) the birth of a new people, settled and with a new religion, with elements from both sides. 

We're getting closer to San Antonio

We start with “San Jose and San Miguel de Aguayo” established in 1720. In a rectangular courtyard dotted with round stone ovens, surrounded by the defense wall in which there are rooms for the Indians to live, there is a church that has Spanish architectural elements with indigenous natural designs. 

From the flyer that is part of the ticket for a National Park we find out that the Spanish explorers were lured by tales of riches. When these faded, they concentrated more on spreading the Catholic faith. The Franciscan missions, financed by the Crown, were converting the Indians (and offered them sanctuary from their enemies), and helped push the empire northward. But the military support was close to nonexistent and so the Franciscans trained the Indians to defend their communities and to cultivate the land. 
These missions flourished between 1747-1775 and then, because of the effects of European diseases, acculturation and intermarriage in 1824 they were secularized.

Detail of the entrance to the church

From volunteer George we find out that he worked extensively in the past 18 years at these sites and he imparted in a very short and comprehensible way what was important about this one. In the beginning people built the granary, where they deposited the crops and also held services for seven years. During that time they built the chapel, which was convenient for at most 50 people, but not for the other 360. These ones were listening to the service through the Rosa's Window. Now about who made the window, and why it is called that way. The flyer says that a Spanish sculptor Pedro Huizar made it as a symbol of his love for Rosa, a young woman who died while crossing the ocean. But George said not to believe it, because, we have no way to know who sculpted it, and why. The window has rococo fronds and lots of pomegranate (the seed of this fruit symbolizes the spread of the new faith and the inner unity of countless converts). It took them seven more years to build the church.

We also learned that the church’s altar still has two of its original sculptures, those in the lower register. It is painted blue and the whole place is simple and peaceful. At the entrance of the church, on both sides there are two small rooms, one for the priest and the other for cleaning supplies, but they both have beautifully sculpted wooden doors.

Behind the church there is a water mill, a mix of original (the lower, working part) and reconstruction (the top part). Around 1800 the missions started to fall apart, whoever needed something for construction, they would just fetch it from here. Rena Maverick Green raised money and the first purchase toward preservation of the space was for the granary’s doors (now an exhibit). During the years the place followed the ups and downs of the times, until they were rescued by UNESCO.

One of the bolts that embellished the granary's doors

Then we drive to the Concepcion Mission. It used to look like San Jose, with a wall and everything, but humans and times allowed only for the church to survive. It also has a side chapel in which an original fresco still adorns the wall: a curtain with tassels that used to frame a painting of St. Matthew (now disappeared).

The sanctuary has three paintings on its cream walls: the Virgin as she will look on Judgment Day, St. Francisc praying and Santa Maria de Guadelupe. What was interesting about the chapel of St. Michael was the holy water vessel that in time it has become part of the wall, and about the chapel of St. Gabriel was that above the door it was a painted design that was scratched in a grid of squares, design that was enlarged and painted on the opposite wall.

I would have liked to visit the archbishop’s house, where George told me that on the ceiling there was a painting with Jesus having amerindian features, but we have no more time.

Later in the day we’re passing the Seminole Canyon Park. Humans that earned their living hunting mammoths left their traces in form of pictographs. Humans that earn a life as archeologists believe that they are one of oldest in North America. There are also people who want to share their knowledge and the privilege of seeing these pictographs, and so they volunteer to conduct tours, but not on Mondays or Tuesdays. Seeing that today is Monday, we stop before the bridge that crosses the canyon’s river and enjoy the view.

After a very long drive we enter the Big Bend Park. Something that looks like a very small wild boar crosses our path and disappeares into the thicket. It is a javelin or a peccary. We drive a long way between hills and valleys, faintly painted by the dusk light and arrive when it is already dark. I can’t wait to see them, so we take advantage of the full moon and take a short walk after we checked in. Later, we have no problem falling asleep.

It looks like a shell....

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