Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 55: The End of A Journey

September 19, 2011 - Today is my last day on this wonderful trip.  While I am a little sad; I know that all trips must come to an end.  I will miss my travel companion, my battle buddy; Bruce.  He's been a great friend to have around on this trip.  I wouldn't of had as much fun on this trip without him.  I will definitely leave Tucson today with good memories.

The weather has been very nice this past week, and I have to admit that I have grown somewhat accustomed to warm temperatures.  While I am an Alaskan boy and revel in 68 degree weather, 90 degrees isn't really that bad at all once you get used to it.  Additionally, the extra sunlight is fun to just sit in and soak up in preparation for winter back home; I think I actually have a tan.

The Mission of San Xavier del Bac

The final place that Bruce and I visited was the Mission of San Xavier.  San Xavier is a historic Spanish Catholic mission that can be found right outside of Tucson.  The mission was founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary, Father Kino.  The actual building that you see today wasn’t built until 1783, still making this church over 200 years old.

Our final destination for this part of the journey.

The outside of the Mission is reminiscent of Moorish design with domes and spirals.  However, it is the entrance that catches your eyes before even entering this working church. The large double door is carved mesquite and the front of the Mission depicts religious icons and motifs; lions, grape vines, and crosses. Additionally, statues of four female saints are represented on the front; although which saints they depict has been lost in the history of the Mission.

The majority of the saints on the front of the mission have,
unfortunately, lost their heads.
The inside of the Mission of San is amazing.  The actual construction and decoration of the Mission was done by the local natives, and the work is impressive.  Walking into the Mission, you are reminded of old European churches.  The frescoes, statuary, and gilded carved wood is impressive.  While all of this rich adornment looks real, it is important to note that the native tribe that built the mission had limited supplies.

Detail of the stonework on the front outside of the mission.

The colors used are representative of the local native culture.

The walls are made of adobe and painted to look like marble and tile, the carved wood is local and painted with yellow paint to look like it is covered in gold, and the ceiling medallions are made of rope covered in plaster.  None of this detracts from the beauty of the Mission; it adds to the impressive resourcefulness of the craftsmen.

A good example of fresco that imitates marble.

Instead of purchasing religious art work, craftsmen created fresco's of the same art.

The most impressive part of the interior of San Xavier is the apse behind the altar. Words cannot describe it, so I offer this picture instead

The magnificent apse of San Xavier.

The tour was given by a docent and included the modest museum, through some of the halls, and ended in the main part of the church, the sanctuary.  Bruce and I ended up in the gift shop after the tour to help with the restoration through monetary contributions…in other words, we bought things.

The Airport

After the Mission of San Xavier, Bruce drove me directly to the airport.  We said our goodbyes, promised to keep in touch, and then I headed into the airport.  It was hard to get on that plane and leave my friend behind, but I knew that it wouldn't be forever.


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