Along our usual route east of the Laja River, there are few bridges until Dolores Hidalgo which makes explorations to the west of the river for amphibious vehicles only. So, today we took the scenic, and longer, drive north on Highway 110 from Xoconoxtle el Grande and eventually found our way to Ex-Hacienda La Erre. There are conflicting stories as to the origin and meaning of the name La Erre. It could be Spanish for the letter “R” or erré from the Spanish verb errar… such is historical research…a game of telephone with many bad connections.
This hacienda which dates from the early 1600s, perhaps earlier, changed ownership many times over the centuries and, under some owners, expanded greatly. At the peak of its territorial expansion in the 1890s, records indicate 420 people lived on La Erre and there was a station of the National Mexican Railroad within the vast territory of the hacienda. This once magnificent hacienda and national historical site have fallen between the government funding cracks and are now a large ruin.
As I walked through skeletons of rooms and past small aqueducts, parting shrubs and weeds along the way, I felt like I was on a movie set for some Indiana Jones movie. Nature quickly reclaims its territory—large mesquite trees provide a canopy of filtered shade.
Although there is the beautifully maintained Capilla Nuestra Señora de la Asunción across the road, both Linda and I were captivated by the patterns of light and shadow in what had once been a grand hacienda.
Linda focused on the difficult interpretation of dense shadow dappled with light.
The interiors of three rooms with peeling and colorful paint and a hint of bygone stencil patterns and hand painted designs on the walls captured my attention.
See if you can find the hand painted design in my painting???
When we arrived preparations were under way in the capilla for a fiesta de quinceañera and, as we painted, music from the mass floated across the plaza…..
Pastels are easier to control and correct but more trouble to do as plein air because of the sheer number of pastels needed. This was done later from a photograph.
La Erre—population: 532; dwellings: 110; elevation: 1920 meters; GPS 100°54′ 47″ W, 21°06′ 12″ N
© 2016 Lorie Topinka