On the way to Los Tovares, we debated whether it was the worst road we had traveled…rutted and oh-so- rocky. Even though we were carefully following Google map on the iPhone, we had to backtrack a few times. But up and up we went and the reward was a sweeping bird’s view of the Presa Allende and a tiny rancho with masterfully built rock fences, rock walls, rock patios and rock buildings everywhere… sort of a miniature castle perched high in the hills reminding us of an Italian hill town. The fallow fields around Los Tovares are literally growing rocks….the source for all the beautiful rock work.
Sitting in the sun in the corner of the small atrium, Linda chose, first, the difficult job of painting the Iglesia at fairly close quarters while a shady spot, red door and contrast of light and shadows beckoned me. For me, finding a shady spot (comfort) is always the first consideration. Later, Linda redid her painting of the Iglesia from a photo that presented a better perspective.
The Iglesia Santa Cruz de los Tovares has very recently been remodeled with, I think, extensive new rockwork covering almost the entire exterior and newly carved cantera details added to the facade. When there has been extensive renovation, it is difficult to determine the age of the original structure. Roughly hewn interior ceiling beams in the sacristy and old rockwork on parts of the exterior suggest (to our inexpert eyes) that it was originally built many, many years ago. Check this photo of the iglesia before renovations, probably taken during the annual community celebration honoring Santa Cruz on May 3rd.
After we had been painting for a while, two friendly women stopped by to see what we were doing. We had heard that a fresh rancho type of cheese could be purchased here which they confirmed and Linda went home with a “yummy” prize. They graciously unlocked the iglesia door to a spotless, well cared for and remodeled interior. Along with more recently acquired images were two older carved and painted statues rendered in a Mexican folk art style. Carved above the altar are the words “CON ESTA SEÑAL VENCERAS” which translate roughly to “with this sign, you will conquer.”
Almost as if saying goodbye, this beautiful bird posed long enough for me to get and focus my camera—good thing, as neither Linda nor I could correctly identify it beyond bird of prey. It was later definitively identified as a red-tailed hawk.
Rancho Los Tovares: population 53; elevation 2084 meters (6837 feet); dwellings 18 GPS 100.863611 20.804722