In its early nineteenth-century heyday, García, Nuevo Leon was a prosperous place of grand mansions, enormous properties, and wealthy farming families. These families left a legacy of elegant architecture, and charming plazas that last to this day. As you walk the streets, you can almost hear the clink of imported glassware, the rustle of hoop skirts, and the distant conversations of generations past. Alas, like so many such places, the town fell on hard times. The farming, particularly orchards, fell prey to drought and competition from elsewhere. More recently, narco gangs created an environment of fear, kidnapping residents, staging shootouts, and generally driving the good folk out. While that was largely addressed four-or-so years ago, the echoes remain. The city is slowly coming back, but the historic center is still very quiet. Few people are about on the streets, though there are signs of life. We see newly-painted facades next to decaying mansions. The city’s plaza now hosts one legendary restaurant (Plaza Icamole), and one decent competitor.
Last Saturday, Tino and I went went to see Garcia, with hopes to eat at Plaza Icamole. Sadly, it was closed at 6:00 PM on Saturday. (¡Qué raro!) Though we had to choose the competitor, we had a nice lunch on the plaza nonetheless. And there we were treated to some wonderful sights: a wedding; the amazing surrounding mountains; restored facades; and unrestored facades. We spent the afternoon wandering around and taking photos. Below are some of the photos I took. My new camera is really an upgrade, and it’s a pleasure to use.
One of my favorite things about Monterrey and the surrounding area is the jagged mountain ranges that can be seen from virtually all points. García treated us to spectacular weather with beautiful skies for our visit. The city is surrounded by the Sierra del Fraile mountain range, and it provides a breathtaking backdrop for the town.
The “Pico de la Sierra del Fraile” is the most famous mountain in town. I’d love to hike up there some day if such a thing were possible. Sadly, it looks like the kind of mountain that requires mountaineering gear such as ropes, pitons, etc. But I still enjoyed looking at it from street-level.
The view of the Templo de San Juan Bautista from our lunch table.
At the Templo, a wedding was taking place. I managed to grab a couple of shots, including the below that I’m quite fond of. The blinding speed of my new camera makes grabbing such shots all the more possible vs the old one.
The new camera’s higher sensitivity with a lower noise profile also enabled a handheld shot of the inside of the Templo during the mass. Note that this shot was taken from outside the door using a zoom lens. I wouldn’t go inside and snap a mass while it was happening.
After seeing the Templo, we strolled around town looking at buildings. As my longtime readers know, I’m a big fan of architecture, whether it be old and crumbling, well-kept, or newer stuff. Though the latter has yet to appear on this blog, it will.
This one sits right off the main plaza.
I liked the faded blue of this one.
Of course there are also facades that are in good shape. Like the one below. The zig-zag shadows and housecat drew my attention.
Below, you can get a sense of exactly how enormous some of these houses and their grounds are. This place probably covers a few acres at least. Inside many of these walls are pecan trees and shady gardens. We were fortunate to get a tour of such a place that had been recently rented by the Protección Civil, a sort of combined firefighters, ambulance operators/medics, and general protection service. They were INCREDIBLY nice to us. As the light was really fading by then, I didn’t get any pictures.
I couldn’t resist shooting this family as they made their way down the street. I especially love how the mother and daughter’s colors contrast the wall and window frames.
And that’s García, Nuevo Leon, or at least the more faded bits. García is also gateway to the famous caverns, and other activities. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Monterrey, and makes for a lovely day trip. Saludos!