Thursday, January 04, 2007

Alamos in (34) Photos

From December 28 through January 2, we ventured with 22 friends and neighbors from Tucson to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Alamos is a beautiful colonial town that started in the late 1600s as a silver-mining hub. It boasts a wonderful collection of plazas, cobblestone-paved streets, eclectic sidewalk vendors, fantastic architecture, and very friendly folks. More info is at

Tuck in for a few photos:

Stairs to the Virgin of Guadalupe shrine along Mexico Highway 15, somewhere north of the Sonoran capital of Hermosillo.

And a closer look at the mountain-painted Virgin herself.

We stayed at Casa Encantada, just off the Plaza de Armas, which I highly recommend. More details here. It is a 150-year-old hacienda converted into a hotel, with a large kitchen, outdoor dining, and ten well-furnished rooms.

The courtyard patio extended along a row of rooms, each with its own fireplace, making it a perfect place for a group of friends to relax and plan for the day's events.

The courtyard included a soothing fountain, as well as lots of nooks and crannies for the kids to explore and many tropical plants.

Casa Encantada also hosts a salon with this most interesting painting, which I just adore!

Mostly we breakfasted at Casa de los Tesoros a block or so away, owned by the same woman who owns Casa Encantada. Another delightful place.

Dad and daughters at breakfast.

Casa Encantada (here in pink) is located next to the city hall (Palacio Municipal), which hosted a New Year's party that lasted well into the wee hours of the new year!

"Typical" Alamos colonial architecture---long porticos with arched entrances along the street---with city hall in the background.

This is one of many shots of an Alamos street scene; in this case not far from "Gringo Gulch." Alamos has a population of about 4,000 residents, with 250 American and Canadian full-time ex-pats.

The narrow streets often widened at turns, mingling pavers with concrete with cobblestone among lush gardens and beautifully sculpted walls.

A view across Plaza de Armas, the cultural center of town.

Another view of the Plaza, one of two main plazas---the other more business and commerce oriented.

Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, on the Plaza de Armas, was completed in 1803, and is the third church on the site. While well-adorned inside, unfortunately most of the lavish interior appointments were looted in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

More wonderful Alamos architecture. Note the raised sideswalks both with stairs, for humans, and ramps, for horses.

It is not uncommon to see horses throughout Alamos and indeed across Sonora. Horseback riding trips are easy to schedule in town or at one of the many surrounding ranches.

Alamos is often referred to as el Ciudad de Puertas---the city of doors---and I went through a whole roll of film (or the digital equivalent) photographing these beautiful architectural portals.

The courtyard of a high school in the town's center.

The gates and walls were of all sizes, colors, and building materials.

This is the cobblestone road to El Mirado, a hill overlooking the town. We saw plenty of stray dogs, like these tame pups, all across Mexico. Note the water cistern atop the home---a common site in the dry state of Sonora.

Early morning view across the Alamos valley from El Mirador, with the church most noticeable, though certainly not as colorful as these goods for sale.

Our youngest admires other goodies.

A closer view of the city hall, left, and church, right.

On the other side of El Mirador, the early morning smoke from hundreds of wood fires fills the valley.

We had great fun at Alamos's Sunday morning market in the Aduana Arroyo.

An afternoon highlight was the visit to Panaderia el Moderna, where the wood-fired baking of the bread may not be modern, but the bread itself is absolutely delicious!

We took a side trip to the wide beach at Huatabampito, along the eastern shore of the Sea of Cortez, where we were intrigued by the thousands of clam (?) holes in the mild surf.

Another side trip was to the hidden mountain village of La Aduana, where we found not only these ruins, but two great little artisans shops and a small but beautiful mission church.

Alamos is surrounded by rugged mountains and tropical thornscrub that mixes large deciduous trees like fig, cottonwood, and tree morning glory with cardon and organ pipe cactus. Much of the land is farmed in small stretches.

We didn't get a chance to get too far off the beaten path, but I know there are jaguars in them thar hills!

Our girls show off their bobble-head turtle collection, which increased exponentially thanks to vendors along the plaza and at El Mirador . . .

And dad shows off his new, hand-made shirt!

This is an odd one to end on, but is not modified in any way. On our last evening I went to the plaza to photograph the church, and I guess this one got overexposed. Pretty spooky cool weird, eh?

But the trip itself was anything but spooky or weird. We had a wonderful time, and I'm already thinking about my next trip down into Mexico. Copper Canyon, perhaps?


Cinbin said...

Wow, those photos are amazing, I especially like the two you started and ended with..

jd said...

Beautiful photos Simmons. There is always something inviting about a big open porch with graceful arches. I hadn't studied where you were on a map until you mentioned Huatambampito. I recognized it as a Yaqui Indian name and knew you must have been near an area I lived many years ago. I spent several months in Bacobampo not far from there. Sorry your border crossing was so lengthy.

P.S. I finished the The Reluctant Mr. Darwin book you recommended. I agree. It was excellent.

Sheryl said...

Wow! I want to go!

Deborah Fries said...

Beautiful photos, Simmons. You seem to find places that feed the eyes and soul. Time to get into the Terrain Tours biz -- I'd definitely sign up for one!

shann said...

Thanks for the great pictures!

(I've been off doing interesting and uninteresting non-poetry work- I hope I'm back again-)


With Hammer And Tong...The LetterShaper said...

Very much enjoyed my stroll through your a poet and an avid reader, I found it both an enlightening and enriching stay. I thank you...stunning photos.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Muchos gracias, all!

Anonymous said...

, it is a pick me up just to see them!
New Mexico