States visited: 49!

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800

Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)

Monday, February 15, 2010

San Antonio Missions Historical Park: February 9th

After spending Monday around the campground, we were ready to get out again and see some more of the area. Hidden Valley is a little campground, space enough for about 25 RV’s, many of which were permanent. There was no toilet block (full hook-ups of course!), no playground, not too much of anything really! However, as the Godwin’s were camping next to us, the kids were happily entertained, hours of ‘tag’ were played in the grassy area behind the campers and of course, the wii was in use! The added bonus was that, thanks to our Passport America membership, we only paid $14/night - an absolute bargain!

There were five Missions built in and around the San Antonio area in the 1700’s, four of them are under National Park protection, the fifth is now known as The Alamo. The most famous and well-visited of the four is San Jose Mission, where the large visitor center is also located. I took the kids over after lunch on Tuesday. Dave had been to Mission Espada the previous day to have a quick look around and collect Junior Ranger booklets for the children, which we had spent some time partially completing earlier in the day.

We watched a dvd, giving an overview of life at the Mission. Spanish friars had come over to ‘New Spain’ (now Mexico, of which Texas was an area at that time) with the intention of converting American Indians to Catholicism and introducing them to European farming. Initially, there was resistance; however as many of them were overcome by European diseases, brought in by the immigrants, and their land was pillaged by enemies, they drifted into the Missions as a means of protection.

Unfortunately, life in the Missions was far from pleasant for the natives. They left their life as hunter/gatherers, moving with the seasons and came to a life ‘ruled by bells’ and hard labor. They were awoken each morning by the bells for prayer and worship time, continued their days with assigned tasks: laboring on the farms, building, cooking, teaching etc and rounded out their evening with games and newly-learned religious songs. Sadly, in the course of about 100 years, 70% of the natives died, of course, not as protected as they’d hoped from the immigrant diseases. The rate of births did not keep up with the rate of deaths and the Missions just died out due to a lack in population, this, despite ‘recruitment’ missions into the forests, searching for more natives to ‘convert’.

The Missions were well protected with thick stone walls, the kids thought the small holes in the windows on the outer walls were cool and we could imagine defenders in the room, ready to shoot their arrows. We were able to wander through the accommodations and across the huge courtyard to the shrine area. The Rosa Window is famous, thanks to its beautiful ornate stone carving.

We met up with the Godwin’s and the children enjoyed learning about the different functions of the rooms around the Mission. The old grist mill at the rear of the area was interesting; we were able to clearly see how it would have operated with the huge, heavy round stones to grind the corn and wheat.

I was impressed, the children wrote a great little journal entry for the last part of the Junior Ranger program and received another badge for their collection. I’m hoping that they’ll have a great recollection of these events in history, as we’ve seen everything first-hand. It’s a good learning opportunity for Dave and I as well – not too much American history knowledge between us!

1 comment:

Teri and Mark said...

Nice recounting of the Missions history. I think you probably know more about San Antonian missions than most San Antonians.
I was glad to see the kids had fun here despite our not being geared to young ones. I love your blog profile picture of the family, a very novel idea. Happy travels.