Monday, May 15, 2017

A Glimpse of "México Profundo" in a Visit to La Santa Madero in Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila

Having written a book about the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution, Francisco I. Madero--Mexico's "Apostle of Democracy"--I am often asked if I have visited his native town, Parras de la Fuente. As of two weeks ago, thanks to an invitation to give talk about my book there, I can now answer, with the easiest of shrugs, why, of course. 

An oasis of a mission-and-farm-town in the arid border state of Coahuila, Parras de la Fuente is one of Mexico's 111 officially-designated "pueblos mágicos," or "magical towns." Apart from its historical importance and its charming downtown, Parras de la Fuente's biggest draw is Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Americas--at one time run by Francisco I. Madero.

 If you're interested in visiting Parras de la Fuente--and for anyone at all interested in Mexican history and culture I warmly recommend it--check out Tripadvisor for information galore. (If you read Spanish, there is a very informative article about the town in the magazine Mexico Desconocido.) I won't aim to cover the gamut here, just one of several worthy attractions, La Santa Madero.

View of La Santa Madero
from the parking lot

It's impossible to talk about Parras de la Fuente without making some reference to the Madero family. Not only was native-born son Francisco I. Madero (1873-1913) the leader of the 1910 Revolution, but he served as president of Mexico from 1911 until his assassination in 1913. Moreover, there was his grandfather, industrialist Evaristo Madero (1828-1911), founder of a veritable dynasty. In many ways, Parras de la Fuente is, if you will excuse my anglosajonismo, Maderotown.

Speaking of looming, perched above the little town on a bulbous hulk of rock sits La Santa Madero.

Perhaps you wonder, is that a misspelling? (Shouldn't it be El Santo Madero?) Was there a Saint Madero? Or could this be a sanctuary of some sort donated by the Madero family?

La Santa Madero, it turns out, refers to the Holy Cross, a purported splinter of which is enshrined in the early 19th-century chapel at the top of that craggy overlook.

Ring-a-ling to Dr. Jung! In the Names Department, La Santo Madero overlooking "Maderotown," this is quite the bodacious synchronicity... And this does bring new texture to a quote in my book:

As even his great admirer, Isidro Favela put it, Madero was a Don Quixote with “the fury for freedom.” Others who loved him said Madero was “made of wood for the cross.”

Starting up the hill to La Santa Madero

About half way up... sun setting through a cloud
Parras de la Fuente below

Nearing the top, about to go around the curve...

Final staircase to the top...

Pug Puppy Alert!
Close up of pug puppy at La Santa Madero

This Chapel of the Holy Cross...
Alas, the chapel was locked.
But you can view photos of the interior on Tripadvisor

On the way back down the hill:
Sunset over Parras de la Fuente
from La Santa Madero

On the way down we passed a girl in a huge poppy-red quinceañera dress (15th birthday celebration) and her photographers-- probably brothers, cousins and friends. One of my companions on this hike, an eminent Mexican scholar, gravely remarked that with this--the girl in her fabulous dress, as much as La Santa Madero--we'd had a glimpse of México profundo.

More anon.

> The webpage for my book about Francisco I. Madero is here.

> Your comments are always very welcome. Write to me here.