Monday, 11 November 2013

Alamos: A weekend outing in southern Sonora, Mexico

Hitting the road again without having to pack specifically for a flight, wait hours and hours to get on said flight, to then catch a delayed bus or train, to finally walk 3 miles to the place you want to actually go is, in a word, nice.

This weekend we set off in the car on a four hour journey to southern Sonora - past mile marker 98, out of the "free zone," into real Mexico. With the day stretching before us, we left the coast behind, bumped through Yaqui territory, got temporarily lost in Ciudad Obregón (I was in the front seat, and therefore on map duty and had to steer us through some side streets, but we did it!), and finally stopped in Navojoa for a quick break.

From Navojoa, which I found to be surprising pleasant and clean, it was 40 minutes down a straight road to Alamos - the end of the line. To enter the town, one must go through large gate portals. Then it was up a steep cobblestone road to the place we were staying. I'll just quickly say that is was a lovely place, but we spent the first two nights without much sleep thanks to millions of dogs and cockerels that carried on throughout the night, and the gardener who really thought sweeping at 6am was the best use of his time. So, enough said on that, and onwards to Alamos.

The property we were on, surrounded by small farms, had stunning views over the town and mountains. It is a small town, so we were able to walk everywhere. After an early dinner, we wandered in to town to see what it had to offer. Or rather, I did, as the parents had been here in springtime and wanted to show it to me. The cathedral and plazas were beautifully lit up, which made the place glow. It reminded me forcefully of Spain. To link the two plazas, there is what they call the "kissing alley." In the old days, the kissing alley used to be clothed in darkness and it was where the young things used to congregate for a bit of fun.

The view from our road in Alamos
Church of La Purísima Concepción, Alamos

Alamos Mansion from 1600s
Alamos was founded in the 17th Century, by Coronado himself, after discovering silver. It became one of the wealthiest towns in the area, and is the northernmost tropical deciduous forest in Mexico. Quite stunning to go from desert to temperate forest so quickly. It was lovely to sit in the plaza and watch people go by. Lots of families gathering and children running about. During our trip we visited the museum, which was very informative and interesting, and also took a 'Tour of Homes' which allowed us to see some of the original mansions built after the silver boom. They've been renovated and are lived in now, but the history and style is mostly still there.

They used to say there were more people on horseback than cars, but lots of this changed in the mid - 90s. It is still, however, a charming place: an old colonial, Mexican town, that has a long history of cattle ranching, silver miners, wars, and revolution. I was glad to have seen it, as it was nice to see a slice of Mexican history that is unique. The further south we went, the more I liked it, and look forward to one day seeing a lot more of this fascinating country.
View of Alamos from Mirador