For the last two weeks, we have been exploring the valley and hills along the road to Jalpa. This has been a dry spring and the June rains have not yet arrived so on our travels we see stressed plants….Opuntia sp. (nopal) with shriveled pads, dried grasses and bushes, Clindropuntia sp. (cholla) more angular than usual and even skeletal… A friend wrote that he saw cattle eating cactus for the moisture.
The “good” road ends at Jalpa which is the site of the rebuilt ex-hacienda Purisima de Jalpa and a grand Parroquia dating from 1906. This hacienda, so the information on the internet reads, dates from 1730 and prospered growing wheat for the silver mines in Guanajuato. The hacienda was scavenged and pretty much reduced to rubble during the land reforms of the early and mid 20th century. The current owner rebuilt it starting in the 1970’s based on information from residents of Jalpa. If you have a cool $8.5 million just sitting around, you can buy it and be a time traveler.
After exploring several communities near Jalpa (Sosnabar, El Tigre, and Cañajo), we settled on the meticulously restored and cared for capilla in Biznaga de Jaral. We have a photo from twenty years ago of this capilla which shows that it has been maintained for many years with only the atrium wall, a new addition(2013), and the bell tower recently painted.
The sky was completely clear when we started painting and after an hour or so light clouds formed and drifted rather aimlessly here and there (see our paintings). Later in the day, it looked like there would be rain with heavy, billowing clouds everywhere, but, no, not yet. Soon the rains will fill the presas (reservoirs) and transform the landscape. San Miguel averages 21.5 inches (545mm) of rain per year but most of that falls from June through October with the rest of the months having little rain. Officially, the region has a semi-arid climate
The shade was limited so Linda and I painted from almost the same perspectives….an interesting comparison of painting styles.
Traditionally capillas, La Capilla de Biznaga de Jaral being a good example, have a plastered and painted façade with the remaining three sides exposed building material, usually rocks. See the post What is a Capilla? for more information about capillas and their construction.
A friend and fellow sketcher, Judy Boston, hosted us at her spacious, nearby house at the end of a quiet painting day.
And, still, no rain!!
Communities visited this week and last week: Biznaga de Jaral–population 233, elevation 2103, dwellings 52; Cañajo–population 815, elevation 2038, dwellings 200; El Tigre–population 117; elevation 2168; dwellings 43; Jalpa–population 491, elevation 2024, dwellings 157; Sosnabar–population 1035, elevation 2097, dwellings 220