Go Forth and Convert!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
1
108
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Trip End May 16, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Day 2 of sightseeing San Antonio.
 
I ran into other Prairie Canadians and people who actually know people who live in Calgary. I'm definitely moving west. Actually, I'm west of Winnipeg now.
 
I did a lot of driving today. I've had enough of walking for a day or two...maybe a week. We'll see. Since I don't know where I'm heading yet, I really don't know how much walking I will be doing.
 
So what did I see today?
 
I learned quite a bit about the Mexicans, or more specifically, the history of the Mexicans. I learned how the Catholic Church, namely the Pope, with the help of the Spanish King, sent Spaniards to the New World to civilize and convert the Indigenous population of the southern portion of America. The English and the French came from the northeast, the Spanish from the south...and they crashed, and clashed, in Texas.  
 
Spain was having difficulties populating the area that is now Texas. The King had realized that by sending Spaniards to the New World he had been cannibalizing his own population. So the Spanish Government in "Mexico" decided to invite the American Colonists from the first group of Independent States to move to the Tejas Territory that was at this time a Mexican State. I won't go into the whole Political battle that culminated in the battle at the Alamo.
 
Today I visited 4 of the other Missions established within what is now considered San Antonio. Each mission is about 3 miles from the next one. The Alamo, which is actually Misión San Antonio de Valero is the one situated the furthest north, and, in what is now, downtown San Antonio.
 
The Franciscan Order were the missionaries tasked with setting up outposts in the wild west. The Franciscan Friars objective was to convert indigenous hunters and gatherers into Catholic, tax-paying citizens of New Spain. The Indians' struggle for survival against European disease and raiding Apaches led them to the missions and to forfeit their culture. Everything changed for them: diet, clothing, religion, culture-even their names. They were required to learn new languages, Latin and Spanish, as well as new vocations.
 
The best preserved of all the missions is Misión Concepcion. Amid their struggle to conquer the frontier of New Spain, the Franciscans planned extravagant beauty for their mission churches. Colourful murals covered both the exterior and interior of the church. The thick, weathered church and convento walls at Misión Conceptión, still stand tall 250 years later, one of the oldest original stone church buildings in the United States today.
 
Misión San José y Miguel de Aguayo came to be known as the "Queen of the Missions". The building of the limestone church, with its extraordinary Spanish Colonial Baroque architecture and statuary began in 1768. At that time there were 350 Indians residing in 84 two-room apartments.
 
Misión San Juan Capistrano is another of the five mission in the area. While the walled compound served as the center of mission life, it was outside the walls where the community enjoyed some of its greatest success. Large farmlands surrounded the mission and were irrigated by irrigation ditches. The fertile soil of the San Antonio River flood plain and the reliable water supply made for successful farming.
 
The last of the missions is Misión San Francisco de la Espada. After 250 years, the mission remarkably retains its unique features and solitary character...keepsakes from the mid 1700s. Espada's ongoing legacy lies in the blending of Spanish and American Indian life ways on this sacred ground, creating a new people and culture. Though Spain lost its claim on the New World, its legendary presence remains.
 
It took me most of the afternoon to visit these 4 missions. It was another beautiful, sunny day. They have a bike bath that meanders through the countryside to each of these missions...starting in downtown San Antonio. Something, I think, to do the next time I'm visiting this place.
 
My day started on the northern outskirts of San Antonio at a place I had already ran into. I've mentioned how we'll usually meet people more than once in life. I guess the same can be said for Caverns. I went and visited the Natural Bridge Caverns. I has seen the Natural Bridge Caverns in Virginia back in November. For some reason, originality is not a strong point in naming caverns by cavern owners.
 
Not much can be said other than, I saw another cavern. As much as they're all the same, they really are all different...or should it be...as much as they're all different, they really are the same. Reminds me of the people I've met during my travels.
 
Where to next?
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