Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Children of the Wind

















We spent the New Year in Mexico this year.  It was the first time we had been to our home in Real de Catorce in 3 1/2 years.  On New Years Eve, we ate dinner up the hill from our house with a grand view of the well lit Pueblo some 9,000 feet in the Sierra Catorce mountains.  For the first time since I talked the local priest into letting me light the church a decade ago, the 200 year old cathedral that silver built was lit up for the holidays.

The town was ablaze.

After dinner, when we returned to our home on the zocolo below, we could see the stage where the evening's festivities were just getting into the spirit of the coming New Year.  The bands were loud, but actually pretty good which is not always the case. A few friends joined us and we welcomed the New Year in relative peace and warmth.

On New Year's day, we got up early and started the jalepeno frijoles that have become a tradition replacing the black eyed peas of the Southern portion of Mexico's bully brother to the north.  Although we had intended in staying almost 2 weeks in this magical high mountain pueblo, we decided to head south to San Miguel and the slightly lower elevations of the Mexican highlands.

I used to look at San Miguel with some disdain.  Mostly because there were so many redneck Texans there who not only had no intention of learning Spanish, they held the locals responsible for understanding their mangled Spanish.  That has changed in the last decade.  Many of those types have returned to Texas and have instead been replaced with Mexicans from D F.  Those Americans that are replacing the Texans are from high tech centers in the Bay Area.  It's a much better environment, and we now go to San Miguel to see our lawyer, artists, and business friends that we know there. The food is good and although expensive, the accommodations are first rate.

We rented a nice home just west of the Cathedral on  Los Arboles street just off of Canal. It was private and quiet and nice.  We have another place that we like a lot  just yards away from the very center of town. It's called Cinco Flores and with its location on the upper side of Aldama, its a gem.

We spent the last 2 days in Mexico in San Luis Potosi which is probably the biggest city in Mexico that you've never heard about.  It's now about 1.5 million inhabitants, and the southwest side of town is beginning to have a very developed look of mid rise structures than grow out of the low sloped mountain that runs to the south.  San Luis is an old city and was part of the early highland culture that fought the Spanish Conquistadores to a stand off over 70 years in the 1500's.

So, here is the history of a war you never heard of.  This from Wikipedia

The Chichimecas were nomadic and semi-nomadic people who occupied the large desert basin stretching from present day Saltillo and Durango in the north to Querétaro and Guadalajara in the south. Within this area of about 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 sq mi), the Chichimecas lived primarily by hunting and gathering, especially mesquite beans, the edible parts of the agave plants, and the fruit (tunas) and leaves of cactus. In favored areas some of the Chichimeca grew corn and other crops. 

Chichimeca population is hard to estimate, although based on the average density of nomadic cultures they probably numbered 30,000 to 60,000.[5] The Chichimecas lived in rancherias of crude shelters or natural shelters such as caves, frequently moving from one area to another to take advantage of seasonal foods and hunting. The Chichimeca referred to themselves as "Children of the Wind", living religiously from the natural land. 

The characteristics most noted about them by the Spanish was that both women and men wore little clothing, grew their hair long, and painted and tattooed their bodies. They were often accused of cannibalism, although this accusation has been disputed, due to the Spanish attempt to smear natives as savages in order to justify forced conversion to Catholicism by Spain during the Mexican Inquisition.[6]

The Chichimecas Confederation consisted of four main nations: Guachichiles, Pames, Guamares, and Zacatecos. These nations had decentralized governments, and were more of independent states.[7] Due to decentralized political unity, their territories overlapped and other Chichimecs joined one or another in raids.

The Guachichiles' territory centered on the area around what would become the city of San Luis Potosí. They seem to have been the most numerous of the four ethnic groups and the de facto leaders of the Chichimecas. Their name meant "Red Colored Hair" from a pigment that they also applied to their skin and clothing. Living in close proximity to the silver road between Querétaro and Zacatecas, they were the most feared of the native raiders.

The nomadic culture of the Chichimecas made it difficult for the Spanish to defeat them. The bow was their principal weapon and one experienced observer said the Zacatecos were "the best archers in the world." Their bows were short, usually less than four feet long, their arrows were long and thin and made of reed and tipped with obsidian, volcanic rock sharper than a modern-day razor. Despite the fragility of the obsidian arrows they had excellent penetrating qualities, even against Spanish armor which was de rigueur for soldiers fighting the Chichimeca. 

As the war continued unabated, it became clear that the Spanish policy of a war of fire and blood had failed. The royal treasury was being emptied by the demands of the war. Churchmen and others who had initially supported the war of fire and blood now questioned the policy. 

In 1574, the Dominicans, contrary to the Augustinians and Franciscans, declared that the Chichimeca War was unjust and caused by Spanish aggression.[15] Thus, to end the conflict, the Spanish began to change public policy to purchase peace from the Chichimeca and assimilate with them.  

The Children of the Wind were not defeated and their spirit in the Mexican Highlands lives on today.

And now I know what a true Zacatero is. 















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