In late February, Frankie and I decided to get away from the country and stayed the night in the city of San Antonio which is less than an hour from where we live.
Wait...isn't that backwards from normal? Normally people escape the city to go to the country...I guess all of us think the grass is greener on the other side. It literally has to be here because we have no grass, just some dirt. Darn drought.
Anyhow, we decided that we were going to go see some sights we had never seen in San Antonio and would be tourist, so we decided on El Mercado in downtown and the San Jose Mission.
El Mercado is just that, a mercado or marketplace. It is not an outdoor marketplace though. Count your blessing if you go there in the summer! It is more like an outdoor mall where you walk outside and then go into stores or restaurants. They do have one big "store" with many vendors along with the single stores-single vendors.
Most of the things for sale were not very unique to us since we live in south Texas, but for someone outside the state or country (other than Mexico) it would be a feast of colors and delights.
I can't believe I don't have any pictures to share of the things for sale! It must have been an off day for me! I did take a few from around the outside.
After going through El Mercado we wanted to see one of the five missions that are in San Antonio. We got in our car and started to follow the GPS but then saw signs for San Jose Mission and decided to just follow those. From El Mercado to the San Jose Mission it is just a little over a 5 mile drive south.
The missions are free to visit and parking is even free! Yay for free stuff! The only downside is that are not close to each other as far as walking is concerned. The most famous mission is the Alamo and then there is also San Juan, Concepcion, Espada, and the one we were at San Jose. They are situated along the San Antonio River about 2 to 3 miles from each other. The only reason we choose San Jose is because that is where the direction signs took us.
The missions were more than just a church they were a community that revolved around the church. It was the Spaniards attempt to "civilize" and give their religion the "savage" Indians that were in Texas. Some places were successful and some were not. The National Park Service has more information about San Jose and the other missions if you are interested in reading more about them.
When you see what the entire complex looks like you can see how the community could exist.
The Indians that were willing to convert to Catholicism lived in the community. Here is how the living quarters look from the outside.
And here are several photos of the inside. It was nice and cool on the inside even though outside it was in the mid to high 70's. Yes, this was February but this is February in south Texas.
Just look how thick those walls are! Considering how much cooler it was inside it was good they had fireplaces and ovens as well for wintertime. (You know when it gets down to the cold cold temperatures of the 40's!)
I am sure, based on what trees grow around the area now, that they at least used mesquite and oak trees for fuel. There were pits to cook outside as well so that in the summer the house wasn't heated up.
There was also a basin for water embedded into the house.
The next part of the mission we explored was the church. It is much simpler than the ones seen in Europe but it did not diminish the beauty of the church at all. Sometimes simpler is better.
First up, some photos from the outside.
And now some of the inside.
Once we were done with viewing the inside we walked out a side door and then I turned to looked at it. It was stunning! I had to wait for several minutes to get a shot with no one in it, but it was worth it.
Another interesting fact about this particular mission is the fact that they had a grist mill. Not just any grist mill either, but the oldest one in Texas!
It is not much to look at but it did the job and can still do the job!
I found it funny that at one part of the mission there were cactus growing on the roof. I swear those things can grow anywhere. Just today I saw one growing in a tree. I kid you not! I should have taken a picture. I will take one next time I go by it!
I want to go see the other missions now but it may have to wait until winter. It's just too dang hot in the summer in south Texas to do a lot of outside tourism. I leave you with one final shot of the church at San Jose Mission. Enjoy!