Thursday, February 02, 2012

walking spanish

In 1524 the first Franciscan missionaries to enter Tenochtitlan walked the whole way barefoot, from the port city of Veracruz. There were twelve of them. This was three years after Hernán Cortés had taken the Aztec capital.

200 years later, Junípero Serra took the same walk from Veracruz to Mexico City (~250 miles). Here's where he took "possession of California for Spain" in 1770. These little monuments are in the backyard gardens of the San Carlos/"Royal Presidio" Chapel, where we went to an afternoon mass. This is in Monterey, now across the street from a Mercedes dealer. Behind that, the hotel where we stayed. On the walk back from the place, riding on my shoulders, Ash asked about the statue and stuff, what it was all about.

A year after founding the Mission, Serra moved the whole thing down to Carmel in 1771--bad soil in town and bad blood with the Governor of Monterey. Here's the courtyard & chapel.
I should note here that Junípero made the short list when we were naming Tom. Here he is in the tree aloe.

Serra founded a dozen or so missions, from central Mexico, to Baja California, and up the coast. Of them all, they say this one was his favorite. Within twenty years, it went from a picket fort surviving on bear meat, to flourish as a sort of agrarian utopia/labor camp, with 1,000 Indian neophytes. Within a couple more decades, most of them had been killed by European poxes. Serra is buried in the chapel floor. There's a reliquary holding the redwood boards from his original coffin.

In the churchyard, abalone shells surround unnamed plots,
like so many pearlescent cable dishes, cupped hands open to the sky.

I took Tom's picture by the nopales in the adjacent schoolyard.
Then he wanted to take mine "by the lemons."