Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mission San Jose

If you thought things were a little strange with my posts last week, it was because Kirk and I were in San Antonio, Texas at a knife show. My computer skill are... uh, lets say sorely lacking and things didn't post quite as I had planned but hey, I tried to stay in touch.

As always, if I'm along, we have to mix business with pleasure for I'm not one to sit contentedly inside a building for hours and consider it a nice trip. So, we spent a little time seeing the sites. Last year was our first visit to San Antonio, Texas and we were blessed with a private tour of the Alamo with a historian as our guide. This year, we wanted to see a couple of the missions. My next door neighbor in Wyoming insisted( on two different occasions) that we had to see Sea World but that just isn't our style. If we visit a place we want to experience its history and natural landmarks. Sea World is a transplant. We bought tickets on a trolley and headed to San Jose mission on Thursday. It was quite an adventure. First we were shocked that the only ones on the two trolleys that got off to see the sights, rather than drive by with the bus driver commentating, was us. Sure it was hot, REALLY HOT, but the heat was worth suffering through as the mission was an incredible site.

The church is original but only 18% percent of the mission is. You could tell what was old because it was whiter in color and the rest the state is rebuilding replicating the original buildings. That meant much of what we saw was in actuality modern construction but that didn't diminish from the attraction. From what I understood, the Spanish sent the Catholic leaders into a region and they converted many in the area. The people helped build the church and the fort like compound around it as the Comanches raided the area threatening the people driving them toward this mission. In turn the people's every day lives were strictly regulated as to when worship time was, when they worked in the fields, tended to livestock, and trained as solders.
The people weren't allowed to leave once they joined and the religious leaders were known to travel hundreds of miles to drag back someone who left. Hence, the population must have grown. The compound is quite large.
Above is the outside of the small homes that made up the walls of the mission. The dome shape is an outdoor oven. These were scattered along the outside as were wells for water. This is a representation of one of the homes that made up the mission's perimeter walls. On the table is a stone grinder. Corn was the primary grain of choice of the area but the religious leaders said it was for livestock and demanded that wheat be grown and used. The sculpted top of this built in cupboard in one of the homes is a typical architectural feature of this era in the area. I thought this was cool, indoor plumbing the crude way. The vessel is fastened to the wall and you pour water into it. The valve at the bottom closes and opens so the water will flow into the bowl when wante. I bet the housewives loved this.
This is the grain mill and this wheel was turned by water only in a horizontal position and not vertical as we usually see.
The water flowed into this hole. You can see the valve that opened and closed to allow the water into the area with the wheel.

This is the small room where the wheat was poured onto the stone for grinding.

This is Kirk outside the grain mill.

But though the grounds were interesting, it was the church that commanded your attention. I'll take you inside for a peak.

Yeah, wow, it was pretty spectacular. Again I wish I knew what I was looking at but we missed the lecture by just a few minutes and we had to hustle as the trolley made stops at appointed times and that was our only source of transportation.

Note the sculpting on this??? whatever the Catholics call this. I'm guessing it held water for the ritual where the Catholics dip their finger in the water and form the sign of the cross. There were several little side rooms in the church that I assume were for prayer as they had these build in the wall. As you can tell, I'm not Catholic and so the significance of much of what I saw went right by me. That is unfortunate.

I did find this wood circular staircase and the little girl in me wanted to adventure up it to see what I could see. Alas, the gate was locked and being that I'm not a little girl anymore, the stairs would probably break under my weight.

That's it for your tour. Oh, I've lots more pictures but
I know how people feel about going through tons of photos of people's vacation. I'll will do one more post of Mission Concepcion tomorrow and then I promise to spare you the rest but if you get a chance, don't miss visiting the mission in San Antonio. The River Walk is just a canal with lots of noisy shops butted up against each other along it's edges. No grassy expanse as I had envisioned and since I don't like to shop, I was extremely dissapointed. It wasn't even as neat as Jackson Hole, Wyoming where at least the shops have a Wyoming flare where they sell, antler furniture and such. And Sea World is in other cities but the Alamo, and the missions aren't. They are a part of what makes Texas's heart beat and to understand Texas, you need to understand these historic places.

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