We are asked frequently, “How do you find all these capillas?” The answer can be long and tedious referencing books, friends, and maps; however, we found this ruin of a capilla using a snapshot and with a lot of luck.
Linda and Saul are avid kayakers. Linda snapped this photo while kayaking along the Laja and wanted to find this particular capilla for at least a couple of years. Friends who frequently hike out in the campo were of no help and Linda didn’t know where the capilla was in reference to small communities or ranchos so books and maps were of no use. Several times when we were painting to the west of the Laja River near the Presa Allende, we took time at the end of the day to explore the spider web of roads in the area in hopes of spotting it. No luck.
Finally, with photo in hand and a hunch that it might be one of three known capillas in Guerrero referenced in Robert de Gast’s book we started off to find Guerrero which in itself was not easy. Persevering, we found Guerrero and the main community capilla, Templo de la Santa Cruz de Oro y Plata, built in 1941. Not it….no bell tower and not visible from the river. Using the photo as reference, we asked where the capilla might be.
As is usually the case, the answer was a vague “allí” (far) with added finger pointing. We headed in the indicated direction and soon saw a telltale bell tower. Success? As we got closer and compared it to the photo, we saw it was not the capilla in Linda’s photo. Again a conversation in rapid fire Spanish with an “allá” (not so far) and the hint that it was hidden in a grove of mesquite trees with lots of trash around it.
So back in the car, we headed in the general direction indicated and very soon another bell tower was visible. This time it was a match to the photo.
We painted from slightly different angles and, as always, with very different palettes.
This capilla, near the community of Guerrero, is a ruin thus the reference to lots of trash from the last informant. As with most ruins, the bell tower is still standing but not much else. We have no information as to age or name but it is a nostalgic reminder of bygone times. The photo is of what remains of the interior which must have been quite lovely with stars painted all over the ceiling.
Rather than retrace the breadcrumbs of our drive to Guerrero, we bravely drove on and did, in fact, come out at El Salitre as we planned. Navigator and driver did well on this adventure.
Guerrero: population 249; elevation 1850 meters; dwellings 48; GPS 100° 48’ 43” and 20° 55’ 27”
We continue to find Robert de Gast’s book “The Churches and Chapels of San Miguel de Allende” invaluable. On pages 85-87 is a list of the communities in the municipality of San Miguel de Allende with the number of capillas in each noted. And, surprise, there is a photo in the book of the capilla we painted before it became a ruin.
© 2017 Lorie Topinka