Destination: Alamos, Sonora, Mexico!
by Cathy Giesy, Gary Nederveld, and Marilyn Wimmergren
On May 9, 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza left Alamos, Sonora, with an army, horses, cattle, and mules loaded with supplies bound for the Presidio of Tubac to martial his resources for the great expedition which would establish the city of San Francisco.
On February 28, 2015, under the sparkling aura of a full rainbow, 17 intrepid explorers left the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Museum en route to Alamos to explore the rich history and culture along the same route that Anza traveled so long ago. It took Anza five months to reach Tubac with his entourage. It took us five days roundtrip in two vans, a minimum of luggage, and passports in hand.
San Carlos was our first stop, near the old port of Guaymas where supplies headed for Alamos in the 1700s were transferred from arriving ships to mules and horses. We enjoyed walking the beach and watching the sun set. San Carlos has a "deep" history starting about 1963 when a beach resort community was developed.
Heading south, we stopped in the Yaqui village of Potam, one of the eight tribal villages in the area of the Yaqui River. The tour leaders, Cathy and Marshall Giesy of Fiesta Tours International have personal friends in the village and brought a picnic lunch to share with members of the extended family. It was rare opportunity to get to know the family and purchase some of the pascola masks they had available. It was a highlight of the tour - an inside view of life in the village.
We enjoyed two nights in the luxurious Hacienda de los Santos in the charming city of Alamos - not enough time! The streets are safe for walking in the evenings, fine restaurants are available. The history of the mining magnates that occupied the town from the late 1600s is fascinating. It was the money from the mines in Alamos that funded Anza’s expedition. The stories and legends of the families who lived there provide great entertainment. The fabulous homes built in the 1700s and left to ruin over the centuries have evolved into wonderfully restored mansions.
We collected the Anza Trail's passport stamp at the delightful Museo Costumbrista de Sonora on the corner of the Plaza de Armas.
We ventured up the Lookout Hill (El Mirador) to see the city below. You can pick out the cathedral and several of the landmark buildings of the town.
The transition zone of the "dry" tropical rain forest was leafed out in green due to the gentle winter rains, and the amapa trees were in full bloom – their lush pink-purple flowers spilling down the hillsides.
Other cities of the Anza Expedition that we visited include the current capital city of Hermosillo, known then as Pitic. We also stopped in Magdalena, Sonora, where the skeletal remains of the Jesuit Missionary, Padre Eusebio Kino, are visible in a monument built in his honor.
A fun and fascinating trip!