Friday, April 8, 2016
Early April and we are both back in San Miguel ready to paint, but where? After meeting with Rick Wendling who has hiked much of the campo around San Miguel and who had many intriguing suggestions, we decided to at least drive through Rancho Viejo (population: 1600; dwellings: 301; 6,201 feet) and begin exploring the general area east of Atotonilco and highway 51.
You would think that after two years of driving the back roads around San Miguel we would have a good map, but not so. It took a couple of tries and some backtracking to actually find Rancho Viejo and that was with the kind assistance of several Mexicans. Once there we easily found a small calvario and the iglesia regularly used by the community and then two, quite old, but restored capillas. A third capilla known in the community as Jorge’s capilla eluded us on this trip even though many people pointed us in the same general direction.
Robert de Gast in his book, The Capillas of San Miguel de Allende, lists four capillas in Rancho Viejo with the note that three are on private property. A search on the internet turned up the following list for Rancho Viejo: Capilla de los Rico, Iglesia de San Francisco, Iglesia de San Miguelito, Iglesia de San Isidro and Capilla de la Palma. Apparently, there was a 2002 investigation and proposal for the restoration of colonial chapels and the development of a tourist corridor between San Miguel and Dolores Hidalgo with Rancho Viejo part of this plan.
While we were painting, a neighbor and, eventually, one of the owners of the capilla came by and we were told by the neighbor that the name of this capilla was Capilla de Los Rico and, then, by the owner, that it was Capilla de la Virgen Rosario. These exchanges typify our experience and the difficulty we have had establishing the names of capillas. Carved in the stone frame around the door, but hard to make out, is, we think, the date 1798.
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