Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bienvenidos a Chihuahua


I admit, I would never have thought of going to Chihuahua if it were not for a wedding. Flights are expensive (I could have flown to China for the price I paid for my ticket) and State Department warnings discourage travel to the area.  Sometimes my family and I did feel like the only tourists in town, but now that I have been there I am truly glad I had the opportunity to visit this engaging city. 

Since the 18th century, Chihuahua has played a role in most of the major events in Mexico’s history and can boast of many famous residents, impressive buildings, and dramatic occurrences. 

Cathedral and the Plaza de Armas
  Built in 1725, the cathedral is the center of Chihuahua, both physically and spiritually. Across from the cathedral’s entrance stands a statue of Don Antonio Deza y Ulloa, the city’s founder.   

Government Palace
  Murals painted by Aarón Piña Mora line the courtyard walls and depict the history of Chihuahua from its founding through the Mexican Revolution.  There is also a memorial for Father Miguel Hidalgo, a hero of Mexico’s War of Independence, on the site where he was executed. 

Quinta Gameros
  A beautiful neoclassical mansion with Art Nouveau furnishings and a sad history.  It was the dream of a man named Manuel Gameros who wanted to impress a much younger woman into marrying him. Before the house could be finished, the Mexican Revolution broke out and Manuel was forced to flee to Texas. I’m not sure if he ever got the girl (some reports say she died), but he never did get to live in the house. 

Other notable sites include the homes of Pancho Villa and Benito Juárez, but I was starting to feel a bit like Scarlett O’Hara with her “war war war, all this talk of war,” and didn’t feel like taking any more pictures of army uniforms, rare pistols, or bullet ravaged cars.

When people learn about my trip they often raise their eyebrows and ask “was it safe?”  I believe those travel warnings are meant more for Cuidad Juarez and other towns closer to the Texas border.  Chihuahua almost feels more like an easygoing market town than a bustling capital city. I never once felt unsafe, and I found the people to be warm, helpful, and proud of their city’s place in Mexican history.