This is the third location of what was also called the Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia, established in 1722 in Goliad, Texas. Previous missions were at Matagorda and Lavaca Bay then named La Bahía del Espíritu Santo (The Bay of the Holy Spirit), on the south west coast of Texas on the Gulf. On our involuntary vacation trip, we visited the town of Goliad first and then went to see the Mission itself, a short distance away on the banks of the San Antonio River.
The intention of the third location was to settle in a place that the native people, the Aranama, would be willing to stay and work, as well as establish territory to defeat the French, in particular. At its peak there were 40,000 head of cattle at the Mission making it the largest ranch in the area and run by the Franciscan order. I often wonder what the indigenous people thought – did Missions make their lives easier or was it just stolen land? They would have offered protection against some of the more warlike Tribes and a regular supply of food albeit with forced conversion to Catholicism.
One of my Irish cousins is a Missionary nun. For many years she worked in Africa. When she was older they moved her to a poverty stricken housing estate in Glasgow, Scotland. I was curious as to how she adapted but she loved it! Most people who meet me make assumptions based on my Scottish accent and seem to think I lived a fabulous life (in a castle?). Many people my age immigrated from Scotland to other countries to achieve a better life.
The building itself fell into disrepair over the years and was reconstructed as part of the New Deal in the 1930’s. From visiting other Missions in Mexico and California, it seems authentic to me. I was enchanted by the simplicity of the church and the pastoral lands surrounding it.
Mission Nuestra Senora del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga is a bit of a mouthful, as was my Spanish given name – Katherine Louise Dellinger de Ortega. My ancestors settled in Spanish Missions from central Mexico up to San Francisco. When I was in McAllen, the Mexican American receptionist commented on my Scottish accent and I said, “You won’t believe what my maiden name was!” After the reveal she said, “Well, that is a brown name!” I was so happy that she recognized my Mestizo heritage despite my Caucasian appearance – few people do.
My gorgeous four poster bed in Merida…note the mosquito net
Doesn’t it look gorgeous? The tiles are original from the 17th century mansion. The French owners have recently created this boutique hotel and coordinated everything with the tiles. The back wall is the palest dove gray as is the new futon beside the bed. The lamps were made of local limestone and I am taking the photograph from the stairs (yes two levels) in my suite leading to the brand new bathroom. It was exquisitely designed with local stone in the huge shower.
So far, so good, eh? The bed was rather hard but the bedding was lovely. The mosquito net was not for decoration and the fumigator turned up on the second day (it smells of roses, Senorita…). I look like I have had measles. Eventually I caught one of the little f***ers and my blood oozed out of it. The exquisite shower had only cold water. On one fortuitous occasion I had a tepid shower – yay! I was offered three other rooms which barely had a trickle of still cold water and realized I had the best room. My French fellow guests had a trickle of cold water for their whole stay. Dirty froggies…🐸. I know that is terribly un PC but it’s one of my resolutions.
The menu was translated by French people into English and they need not have bothered. There is a local Maya language spoken and I have no idea what the menu said. I ate dessert and breakfast with unidentifiable fruit. I rarely spoke English to anyone. Everyone at the hotel spoke French including the staff. My driver’s English was as good as my Spanish and yet we talked for hours each day. Google Translate helped with certain words until we were out of cell phone range.
THIS WAS THE BEST VACATION EVER!!! I don’t know why but I loved every second of it, even my Eco toilet which means no paper down the drain (there was a little lidded bucket for the poo smeared paper). It felt like glamping or glhostelling. The day before I left I had received bad news about four friends with health and other problems. I was so upset that I momentarily considered not going. The saddest news was the death of our fellow blogger Pan otherwise known as Linda, beautifully memorialized by John Ray and Osyth. If you click on John and Osyth’s names you will see their posts about Linda. My head still has an image of her dog guarding her dead body for two days.
My mental health must be stronger than I imagined and I decided that life really was too short. I compartmentalized all my bad news, got on the plane and prayed at every church that I saw in Merida. I got lost twice in the pitch black but kept finding churches so perhaps Huehuecoyotl had an auspicious plan. The beauty of nature and the kind, warm people of the Yucatan soothed my soul and provided much needed balm. I have many stories to tell but I have a busy week helping friends and doing paid work so it may be a week or so before I share more.
I climbed a pyramid!
This is a shot from Mayapan, a huge Maya city that has NO tourists! My various DNA tests did not show that I am part mountain goat…all those years hill-climbing with my school friends, Katharine and AnneMarie have left me with a core strength. There was a small group of local school teenagers who struggled to keep up with me…
Most importantly, may Linda rest in peace. She was a loyal, funny and delightful blogger friend that I will miss.
Look at that face! How could Kerry tell an alternative fact?
I have been known to tell a few… Then I had to go to confession and tell the priest, “Father, forgive me for my sins. When Nana wasn’t looking I ate two spoonfuls of soft brown sugar out of the pantry”. I think I got an ‘our father’ and a few ‘hail marys’ for that one and looking back wondered how the nice priest managed not to laugh. The bad priest was all fire and brimstone and that’s not an alternative fact. In our household, it was a sin to steal food unless you had asked. The only exception was the fruit bowl and one December I ended up with hives at the doctor’s office because I ate a full bowl of clementines at once. God just decided to leave out the middle-man and punish me directly.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if priests were able to write funny little books about what children say in confessional? The adult version could outsell 50 shades of Gray and even the Bible… (I am visibly cringing as I write this, looking out for the bolt of lightning). As I got older, I stopped going to confession because there were too many sins. My mum said to me once, about boyfriend #4, “Are you having sex with him?” “NO!” was my outraged alternative fact. I don’t know why I lied told that fact since she caught me and was just curious. My GP asked me if I really needed the Pill for my heavy periods or was I having sex – my red face gave the game away. God has since punished me with a dodgy hoo-haa, a mental illness and myriad other health issues…
I had stopped watching the news for a while when I was feeling blue but now I actively enjoy watching Sean Spicer get angry as he tries to defend alternative facts. He seems to magically transmogrify into Melissa McCarthy and I keep waiting for him to start pushing the podium into the press corp. That girl needs an Oscar for that skit – how did she look so much like him? Even he laughed when asked about it. What sins has he committed to get that job???
People from Scotland rarely mention an appalling fact about our ILLUSTRIOUS LEADER. His mother was born on one of our outer islands where the residents were almost exclusively from a strict Protestant cult faith. If you did anything other than read the Bible and attend church on the Sabbath, you were shunned. Curiously all the Catholics and Protestants lived on separate islands – you can’t make this stuff up. Perhaps Mama Trump left for America because she couldn’t stand the restrictions but I imagine she is twirling in her grave about the various alternative facts. It is important for you to note that the population comes from a very small gene pool… That might explain many things – limited vocabulary, short attention span and generally daftness.
Here is a little puzzle for you – am I telling alternative facts below?
Our FANTASTIC, AMAZING President is going to make American white great again. We will have a TERRIFIC wall through ecologically fragile areas to protect us from the NASTY Mexicans who have made our lives miserable. Global warming is just a story – let’s open up all our coal mines and use even more fossil fuels. Why don’t we build a pipeline carrying CANADIAN fossil fuels and build more GREAT refineries on the gulf coast? They are so lucky to have close proximity to a FANTASTIC Cancer Center in Houston and we can all use it because we will have an AMAZING health care system. Finally, I am so grateful that our cabinet is full of old wise white MEN, some with TERRIFIC links to Russia.
God knows how many novenas I will have to say for those whopper alternative facts… PLEASE make my day with a comment. I will respond in the style of Sean Spicer (castigation or obsequiousness).
Given the somber appearance of the outside of this Catholic cathedral, I was astonished when I walked inside and saw the wonderfully colorful interior. The Cathedral was built between 1900 and 1909 under the leadership of Bishop Scanlan. Whenever I visit Catholic Churches in the States, I expect either an Irish name, as in this case, or a Spanish name. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family and it was common in the old days for the oldest boy of a family to go into the priesthood, whether he wanted to or not. Our Parish Priest was a wonderfully arrogant example of this…😇 (When you read to the end of this post, I think you will agree that I am headed to Purgatory for bloggers…) As I looked at the engraving of Bishop Scanlan below, I wondered about his long journey to the alien landscape of Utah.
When I researched The Cathedral of the Madeleine, I noted that the interior was inspired by the Spanish Gothic style of the late middle ages. Although I visited Madrid years ago, I don’t think I have ever seen a Cathedral that looked quite like this one. It was magnificent. I could imagine a Lenten Mass with the incensor or thurible burning with that evocative smell of the Middle East.
Stages of the Cross
All Roman Catholic churches have a set of pictures called the steps of the cross which depict the day of Jesus’s crucifixion. This one was unique and slightly surreal. Before Easter we traditionally prayed at each stage. Our church, in Scotland, was very modern, created by some fancy architect but not really appealing to the majority of the parishioners. I looked at current images online and I couldn’t recognize it – all the colors had been changed to white which really emphasized the beautiful stained glass. There must be so few parishioners that there were just some chairs – no rows of kneeling benches. It was so busy when I was growing up that it was standing room only. How sad and yet reflective of our times.
I loved this epistle altar to the right of the main alter. The colors are so rich – imagine how lovely it would be on a cold Utah Christmas Day? There is always a funny story to every travelogue and this one happened as I was trying to cross the road to enter the church. There were some roadworks and it made it difficult to see where the pedestrian crossing was. I noted that all the locals religiously crossed when they should, so I followed the herd. At the Cathedral, I just couldn’t figure out where it was so just decided to cross the road – jay walking, I guess. I was obviously a tourist lady who was lost trying to get to her church but a truck slowed down, when I was in the middle, and shouted, “Use the Crosswalk!” My first thought was to shout, ‘F*****g Asshole’ but I was inhibited by being in Salt Lake City and in front of a cathedral. Instead I yelled, “Shut Up” which seemed to surprise him. I was so mad that I had to stay outside the Cathedral for a while because I couldn’t go inside with all the thoughts of what I would do to that trucker if I saw him again… 😈 I guess he didn’t like Catholics – join the club!
Anyway, once the devil hopped off my shoulder, I went in and lit some candles for all my friends, family and bloggers who are struggling just now. 😇
To quote Donald Trump (and I never thought I would do that), “Look at that face!” but I mean it in a good way. Pope Francis’s goodness just glows from his gently smiling face. I know it is not okay to be ‘in love’ with Pope Francis but I feel a bit like a dizzy teenage fan of a film star. Before he chose Francis as his Papal name – excellent choice, by the way, as St. Francis is my favorite animal loving saint – his name was Jorge and he loved to tango. I don’t know about other ladies but that’s enough for me… Handsome, too. No wonder those nuns adore him.
On a more serious note, I love what he does and says. Telling Congress what they should do was a pretty ballsy move, too (somehow that feels like I just used the wrong word). I think I have mentioned before that I am an Ethnic Catholic to borrow a phrase from Anne Rice, the vampire author. It is so deeply ingrained in my upbringing that, although I angrily left the church as a teenager because I felt it was corrupt and hypocritical, I still feel like a Roman Catholic. I am not sure that I believe in a higher power but in times of sadness I am drawn to prayer. My Mum’s favorite saint was St Jude who is the patron saint of Hopeless Cases – perfect for her and me. I miss the ritual of a mass and the smell of incense but I also miss the Arabic call to prayer so perhaps I am just a spiritual person.
Pope Francis personifies, to me, what a Pope should be. Compassionate, forthright and joyful. It is as though he sprinkles Catholic fairy dust wherever he goes. A colleague said to me today, “He is almost enough to make you become Catholic” which is high praise indeed. I certainly don’t agree with everything he believes in but given his age and the status of the church he is a wonderful breath of fresh air. His message that resonates most with me is that we should not be so greedy. Greed is not good, no matter what Gordon Gekko says. Sharing is beautiful and as the Scots say, “There are no pockets in a shroud”.