The Mexican flag flies high on this once Spanish owned mission site of Mission Santa Guadalupe del Norte located just a half block from the main street of Francisco Zarco. A corner portion of a rock wall is all that remains from the original mission built by the Dominican's in 1834. There may be faint hints of old foundations from outbuildings on the property.
The mission was the last mission built and survived for only six raucus years ending with the friars being chased away by hostile Indians. It was said to be the most prosperous of all the missions with large herds of livestock.
The property has signage and a small museum with books for sale, the light switch being on the left. Outside, a styrofoam mission bell dangles in the wind and Kumeyaay house and barn structure can be entered.
As I was leaving a woman appeared from the home next door. She is the caretaker and gave me a quick tour.
This is not your typical Mexican panderia. It's run by Norma Samarin, a descendent of Russian immigrants who settled in the Valley of Guadalupe. They were of a religious sect called Molokans who escaped Russian in search of a land where they can cultivate and practice their pacifistic religoun.
Next door to the panderia is Norma's childhood home which she has converted into a Molokan museum. Norma is proud of her heritage and would like to pass the duties of keeping the heritage light burning to her cousins Prescilla and Erica.
The panderia serves up fresh Russian sweet bread and a variety of locally grown canned goods. Their is plenty of seating with clensliness a priority.
A large loaf of bread goes for three bucks.
You will be relieved to find the Kumeyaay village of San Antonio Necua very accessible and just a couple miles from the main highway. Take the LA Cetto entrance road that is shared by the village and a number of other wineries in this magnificent valley. The road will do a sharp left to the LA Cetto Winery, you want to go in that direction. Pass the winery and stay with the road as it veers right and follow the signs.
I entered the village unannounced so I wasn't surprised that there was no welcoming party. Most folk stay indoors and there is no village center. The village is spread out though most of the homes are in view. There is a school as you enter on the left behind a grand old oak that must put out 60 feet of shade minimum. Notice the blue outhouses. On the left will be a small white building with a large cross behind it, that's the church.
Further on is a park with a picnic area and playground. Watch for herds of goats and horses. You'll see a couple of large corrals that house both horses and bulls. Hang out and you'll find this is no sleepy little village but there is a lot of action going on; people going and going out of town, a horse tethered behind a moving car, horse deliveries, kids on bikes.
On the way out I met Joel who was tending a large herd of well fed black and white spotted cows. We chatted about the village and how there is plenty of baskets and pottery available. It would be best for me to come back on Sunday where they'll sell their wares at the park. I took his word for it and returned the next day to an empty park. I may have been early or perhaps I misunderstood Joel and he was just pondering a good idea. It would be a good idea to have an open air market place at both San Antonio Necua and the nearby Kumeyaay village of San Jose De La Zorra.
You got to want to get here. This little Indian settlement is so off the beaten track that just getting there takes perseverence and patience as the road is unpaved and slow going. Upon arrival, keep your expectations low. The village is spread out and though there may be some activity such as clearing the road or a grading project most inhabitants remain enclosed in their homes.
When I arrived I didn't think I found the center of the village. I thought that there would be a town center. Also, the sign pointed right so I went right down that small dirt path. People must have thought I was crazy. Once I passed that first ranchero I came to a grove of trees where some men were working. They literally turned their back on me. What should I expect? After all, I invaded their space and they had no interest in entertaining my curiosity. There were others in town that can cater to my needs. I left the men to their work, turned around and made my way back to the main road.
San Jose De La Zorra is the home to about 90 individuals living in about 35 homes. There is a church in what can be called the town square. I also here there is a store next to the church but I did notice it. The valley is broad with many small valley and low lying hills surrounding it. Of the most prominent feature is the evergreen oak that provides welcomed shade.
As I was leaving a herd of goats passed in front of my car. From the force at which they were driven I knew there was a shepard spurring them on. I was right and I caught sight of a man who looked to be about 50, large built with a mass of grey beard that made him look like the grandfather of "Heidi of Sunnybrook Farm". I yelled at him "hablamos" meaning "we talk?"
As he approached my car I got out and swung around to meet him and shake his hand. We talked and I told him about my desire to purchase authentic Indian objects. His name was Earnest and he told me that his family made such items and if I'd like to come look. Ofcourse I did.