San Sebastian, a historical town in Mexico, was everything I imagined. (Click on the highlighted name and it will take you to more lovely photos of the town.)
There was a combination dirt and cobblestone main road, with other roads running off in all directions, and narrow sidewalks for walking.
I thought of the saying that “all roads lead to Rome”, when I saw the town plaza – beautiful plaza with roses, gazebo, and benches – and roads leading away from town and into the surrounding area. The town square was surrounded with business and government offices. I suspect some of the buildings were homes, too.
It was a beautiful, warm day. We arrived late morning and the town was quiet. A fellow approached us the moment we arrived in the square giving us general information regarding the town and offering to give us a tour. Though it is hard to imagine, after driving here and seeing the countryside, there are over 8000 people that call San Sebastian their town. I don’t know what kind of square miles that would entail, but I imagine it is a big area. We politely declined his services. He gave us a coupon for lunch that would be valid at several restaurants in the town.
Marianne was the designated guide so we all trouped off with her. We were all cautioned to watch where we were walking as the streets were uneven and ripe for a gringo who was too busy gawking to watch where they were going.
Marianne was excited to take us to her favorite place in the town, a museum that was created and run by an elderly local woman, who, over her lifetime, collected memorabilia of the area, and made a portion of her home into a museum which she opened to the public. She was a direct descendant to the original Spanish people that came to run the silver mines in the 1600s. (The photos in the picture are her descendants.) We were sorry to hear that she passed away the year before.
Her daughter took over the museum and gave us a tour of the museum room. Her English was enough, with our varied Spanish abilities, to understand her story. She explained that at the height of the silver mining there were over 35,000 people living and working in the area. Most of the mine workers were, to put it bluntly, slaves to the mining company. Their pay was in chits that they took to the company store for food, supplies, etc. It was subsistence living and hard work. Now all the mines, except one, is closed, and this is a sleepy community, with the residents living a basic and simple life. Though it was quiet that day, it is obvious that the town has business to do. I can imagine that on days of celebration and fiestas the town comes alive with the local people coming out of the hills to be together and celebrate the day.
We popped our heads in several of the shops curious to see their wares. There was a shop that reminded me of a craft fair at Christmas. We bought post cards, Mexican Wedding cookies, and candy. One general store sold a little bit of everything – much of it seemed dated and dusty. There were basic groceries and fruits and veges.
Our next stop was the Catholic Church. You can see its tower in the photo at the top of the blog.
An enormous building, obviously a part of the community for a very long time.
Note the windows. Then look for them in the photo below from the interior.
The Sanctuary was elegant yet reverent. A beautiful place to come, sit, and worship. Do you see the windows above the high railing? I was amazed at how well the windows lit up the room. The ceiling was a work of art in itself. Though the exterior was roughly finished, the interior was beautiful. The church is a beautiful cornerstone to San Sebastian, and most likely the center of the town’s activities.
Many of the places had a courtyard tucked in behind their street-side walls.
This entrance and courtyard appealed to me. I wanted to go, just sit, and enjoy the peace it evoked.
Imagine being invited in to sit and enjoy the ambiance. The only resident at home was this colorful cat. I felt certain I was invited in by the way she rubbed against us and meowed, but somehow I didn’t think she was authorized to extend invitations. Darn!
The hotel on the plaza was charming and inviting. The woman who manages the hotel invited us in for a tour.
This is the hotel inner courtyard, accessing the rooms and a beautiful relaxing outdoor area. The rooms were clean, with a natural décor. If you are looking for a great retreat or get-away you might want to consider this hotel.
We topped off our town tour with comida/lunch at La Lupita, the restaurant that Marianne and Hubert ate at previously. The restaurant is owned and run by a family. The service was great. It was obvious they cater to large numbers of people daily. The food was served family style. We managed to beat the tour buses that come to San Sebastian daily, all the way through our time in the town. A group from a bus tour came into the restaurant just as we finished our meal. Don’t they say, “timing is everything”?
Bruce is still talking about this meal. He loved it.
See? The smile says it all. Now, go take a break yourselves.
We will be back in the next edition of Mexico Living More of San Sebastian. Hasta La Vista!