We made a visit to the Mission San Xavier del Bac just outside of Tucson on Highway 19.
The mission is a National Historic Landmark and was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. The church is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, and is filled with original statues and murals. From October to May mass is held each morning, Saturday vigil, and there are three masses on Sunday.
We were able to join a Docent tour just as we arrived and it was very interesting. She started with a history of the exterior architecture. The mission is constructed of low-fire clay brick, stone and lime mortar, and the entire structure is roofed with masonry vaults.
We then moved inside where she told us the artwork was most likely created by artists from Queretero in New Spain, which is now Mexico. The sculptures were created in guild workshops and carried by donkey to the mission. Once the sculpture was in place craftsmen created the clothing. The docent also pointed out the symytry in the church, if there was a door on one side, there was a door on the other side. In one case there was a door on the left but no room for a door on the right so one was painted on the wall. Pictures just don’t do the artwork and carvings justice!
When the mission was built there was not enough money to tile the walls so they were painted to look like tile.
In 1887 and earthquake knocked down the mortuary wall and damaged part of the church, repairs on this damage began in 1905. In 1939 lightning hit the West Tower Lantern and repairs began again.
After touring the church we wandered around the outside, which is beautiful landscaped in typical southern plants.
As we walked back to the truck we walked by vendors selling food under shade made from Ocotillo wood.
On our way back in to town we noticed the road signs were in kilometer … are we back in Canada? We figure it is because Highway 19 comes up from Mexico and Mexico also works on the metric system.
We ended our afternoon with our second blog date when we met up with Carl and Jean of RV Jeannie. Our visit started with a tour of their RV Park, Rincon West. We have stayed at Rincon East so it was interesting to see Rincon’s other park in Tucson. Four hours later we had talked about family, travels, and everything else under the sun. What an amazing visit with people who we feel like we have know forever but only just met, I really hope our paths cross again!
We were fortunate enough to be joined by their friends who had a medical issue in Yuma before Christmas, were air lifted back to Saskatoon, and in January were able to return to Tucson … what an incredible story!
The group told us about a great bar near our campground called Tiny’s Saloon. We were told the beer was big and the burgers big enough to share! Since we were heading home around dinner time it was an easy decision to stop at Tiny’s …. and it was just as good as they said it was! We had a small beer and split a burger with coleslaw and it was the perfect meal. Don’t be put off by the appearance; Tiny’s is an authentic country saloon where the food and service are excellent!
Until next time …