Sunday, February 25, 2018

WHEW!! Three Missions, One Day

The good news is I won't subject you to all 45 pictures at one time.  This is a great tour to take if you're interested in the local Indian history.  If you want to see amazing structures, skip this one.

After an hour's drive, I arrived at Tumacacori (pronounced Tuma-caw'-cor-ee).  The first tour going out was a bird watching group.  As you can see, someone spotted something beyond the fence.
They were looking the wrong direction because right next to them in the tree was this little beauty.  A tanager of some sort I imagine, but the book that would tell me was sacrificed in the interest of space in my RV.
There is a Mission at Tumacacori just beyond the far walls, but I hoped to have time to see it upon my return.  There's a beautiful fountain in the yard, just waiting for you.
Our guide remained nameless as nine of us jumped in the van for the long ride South to the border.  Finally off on a private dirt road and through a couple of locked gates, we arrived at a wide spot with no sight of a mission.
It was downright cold as the wind blew right through us.  We walked down a road, then off on a trail, when we came to this raised hill.  Looks like a mission, right?  Actually, three years ago an archaeology team came here and dug up this mound to discover a very old adobe building, now totally dissolved back into the earth.  Instead of leaving it open, they covered it back up.
So here's the history part.  Way back when, Arizona wasn't really a desert, but a huge grassland without all the scrub brush.  It was the Spanish who came here to conquer the area for resources and gold for Spain.  It started with the Missionaries coming North and establishing missions to assimilate the local people.  They had an ulterior motive however, can you guess?

The Spanish brought cattle for food, which like lawnmowers, mowed the grass to the ground.  With only scrub brush left, they ate that, dropping piles of seeds along the way.  In no time, the entire area was full of new growth scrub brush, or what you see today.  Least that's what she said.  Hard to imagine, but being familiar with cattle, I can see that happening.

Here's a good example though ... the area on the left of the fence has a few cattle on it and NO grass.  Look at the grass on the right!!  It was knee high.
So the missionaries decided to build their mission right where the Indians were living, since they had already discovered the most important thing ... water.  Here we are walking to the edge of the riverbed.
Although dry now, the Santa Cruz river runs wild during heavy rainstorms, and probably had a lot more water before all the dams were built in Arizona.  In the very bottom right hand corner of this image is a hole ground into the rock.  We were told this was a grinding stone rock, although I'm not so sure.  I'm seen hundreds of these with usually many in the same spot.  There were no other holes here.
At any rate, we finally came upon the remaining adobe walls of Guevavi (pronounced Gwa-va'-vi) Mission.  Guevavi means Big Spring.  Although about 20 miles apart, these missions were either the MAIN encampment with a Priest, or they were set up as an outlying place to stop along the trail.  
This one had no priest for 30 years, and so fell quickly into disrepair.  Here's what it looked like originally.  Hard to see unless you are there, the outside walls have all dissolved into little hills with the depression in the middle being the entrance door to the courtyard.  

All the little rooms around the outside were used to teach the Indians how to grow things, how to tend to cattle and how to pay taxes, the ulterior motive.  Didn't take Spain long to impose taxes, right??  The three wide walls on the map are all that is left of the sanctuary.
It's very small, maybe only ten feet wide and twenty feet long.  Unlike other adobe walls, these are made with a lot of rock in the mix.  There's an adobe brick, then two inches of mud, then another brick, making it easily fall apart when it rains.
This picture was taken in 1889, compared to what remains today.  Pretty sad.  
Although we were warned about snakes, it was WAY too cold for them to be out.  The cattle, curious beings that they are, followed us everywhere we went.  I can't say as much for this roadrunner.  LOVE these guys!!
So that's it ...first mission down.  Not quite what I expected, especially when I heard the Park Service isn't doing anything to stop the erosion and the University is not doing any excavations.  There's got to be so much history there!!

So in the end, the O'odham people were never able to go back to their normal lives.  They raised cattle and grew food, only to have most of it stolen by the Apache.  Spain, in their infinite wisdom, gave the Apache lots of food and cattle to keep them quiet.  When the treaty was formed and some of the land went to the U.S., they quit giving out the goodies and the Apache revolted.

Sound familiar?  The Apache then began to raid everyone around them because they didn't know how to grow crops and raise cattle themselves.  Easier to just steal it.  Eventually the O'odham people gave up Guevavi and moved to Tumacacori Mission for protection, abandoning the first mission.

Lots of history, not much to see.  Still, worth the $25 price which includes all three missions.  Tomorrow .... Mission #2.


  1. Sounds like the Apache figured out the welfare system
    That's OK they gave it to the Navajo to refine
    If you ever wanna take a three day vacation go to the Havasupai Indian reservation in the southern portion of the Grand Canyon better known as peach springs you can take a horse or walk down ( do the horse thing )to the bottom to Havasupai Village and then go to the Falls And to the Colorado River guarantee you won't be disappointed

    1. Yes I do .... I've added it to my list. THANK YOU!!

  2. On your gaming table it's very easy to fill the holes
    You could do it 2 ways
    If you know anybody that has a wood lathe you measure the exact size and depth he could make you a block to fit in the holes that way it will be flush with the top of the table
    The other way would be to find somebody that does Clay pottery with the exact size and depth he can make you a cup that fits inside turn the cup up side down it'll fit flush in the hole and at the same time and have him make you the appropriate number of full size cups to fit in the hole for drinks
    Third option is the next time you go to pier one imports look at their glass table tops you can buy the table glass separate


    better prices here and what woman doesn't love a sale

  4. There is so much history here in the southwest and so interesting, sad to see that not all of it is preserved.

    1. It's so interesting to know how these areas were settled. Seems there was lots of suffering in the "old" days.

  5. Looks to me like you are on a Mission! ha ha
    Interesting history for sure, maybe the next one will have more visible structures for you to see. that is what I like, a visual. :)

    1. I AM on a mission to see the missions! They actually do get quite a bit better!!

  6. It seemed that the different Countries, Spain, France and England all did the same establishing a foothold among the Natives then taking over.
    It is a shame that the Park Service isn't protecting the history.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Yes they did ... mostly because they were all looking for gold to increase their coffers.