Coastline at Antalya, Turkiye.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Antalya, Turkiye.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Paris, France on May 1st.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The San Antonio Missions

Yesterday morning around 11:00am, we headed out of Choke Canyon State Park, and north towards the city of San Antonio.

With an 86 mile (136 km) drive ahead of us, I figured that we would arrive around 1:00pm, just in time for lunch.

And we did.

Yesterday's drive, 86 miles (136 kms).

Not very exciting scenery along the way... other than lots of wildflowers. Oil rigs, and lots of construction truck traffic because of a new pipeline being built.

We arrived on the fringe of the city and made a stop at the local Walmart. Had some lunch and then went in for a few supplies. 

Then, we found a parking spot in the RV and Bus parking area for the San Antonio Missions National Historic Site. We are the only RV here.

We're actually on the southern outskirts of the city of San Antonio (pop 1.5 million). I had read on iOverlander that you can stay overnight in your RV here for free, and when we asked at the visitor's center they confirmed that.

There are five old missions dating back to the 1700's, and there is a cycling path connecting them all, and it runs right downtown from here. That's why we're here... to bike between the missions.

But it was too hot to be doing any of that yesterday afternoon. The temperature got up to 94F (34C). So instead, we went to the visitors center and watched a 20 minute movie, and then outside to see the first mission building.

Built in 1768.

The Spanish came to this area specifically to recruit local Indians into the Catholic religion. Some of the Indians(the Apaches) refused to be "assimilated" by the Spanish. But others came willingly.

The Franciscan friars objective was to convert indigenous hunters and gatherers into Catholic, tax-paying citizens of New Spain. The Indians’ struggle for survival against European disease and raiding Lipan Apaches led them to the missions and to forfeit their culture. Everything changed for them: diet, clothing, religion, culture—even their names. They were required to learn two new languages, Latin and Spanish, as well as new vocations.

Their new roles and duties in the mission were very regimented. Church bells called them to mass three times a day. Following sunrise mass, families returned to their two-room quarters for corn atole (mush) and charque (jerky). After breakfast, the men and boys worked in the labores (fields), and in textile, tailor, carpenter, and blacksmith shops. They also worked as masons, weavers, acequia (irrigation ditch) builders, and at the lime kilns. Some took charge of the livestock at the mission’s ranch, El Atascoso, about 25 miles southwest of the mission.

The women and girls prepared food, swept the dirt floors, carded wool, and fished in the irrigation ditch outside the walls. Father Ramírez gave the Indian children religious instruction. Spanish and Indian mission officials met in the plaza to discuss community affairs. The bells rang out at noon, calling everyone back to the church for prayers. The main meal of the day was lunch, perhaps a bowl
of goat stew and fresh baked tortillas. The afternoon siesta followed the meal and most activity subsided for several hours. Mounted Indian sentinels, however, continually kept guard outside the walls.

Summoned by the bells, everyone returned to the church for evening worship. After supper, recreational time for singing, games, dances, storytelling, and drama filled the evening. At
dark, all retired to their raised beds of buffalo hides. The next work day began at sunrise as the mission Indians were again called by the bells into the church for mass.

Hmm. As with in Mexico, we are pretty confident that the natives were better off before the arrival of the Spanish!

There isn't much left of the original Indian residences. The ovens remain.

Interesting stuff.

Looking forward to see if there are any architectural differences with the other four missions.

Back at the motorhome and it was hot! Didn't cool down much overnight either, and they're calling for another hot day today. So we are up early and hitting the bike paths before things get too warm. 

Good deal on this Greenworks Cordless Electric Chainsaw. The "battery included" version is cheaper than the "not included" version!

And in Canada...


  1. It seems good intentions aren't always so good when people think they know better than the ones that have been someplace for a while.

    1. It's so very true and surprisingly enough it still goes on today!

  2. Great tour. Lots of history to be found in Texas.

    1. Thanks Chris, yep lots of history here and there is definitely some interesting learning going on.

  3. Very intersting place. Missed it on several trips to the area, will have to go back.

    1. There are five missions along the trail. We saw three of them, so we will have to come back this way again to see the other two. The hike/bike trail is great!

  4. Very sad indeed to learn about the “assimilation” ... as a Catholic, this is a part of history I am ashamed about... the same thing happened to the indigenous people of Canada. On the upside, in my humble opinion, these missions are a legacy of the Spanish culture and what it was like then. There’s always two sides to a coin...

    1. We know that the intentions were good but they of course didn't see how it could lead to the loss of a way of life for these people in the years to come. It is always nice to know that you can look back on our ancestry and be able to know the language and the customs. Too many times over history, did people think that their way of life is superior to others and that they should change those that don't live the same way and unfortunately is still goes on today.

      And, who knows maybe those people were thankful for all the help and for the new life that they were given, we may never know.

  5. we were in San Antonio last week and i did 3 miles (in 1 day!!!) lol Miss you guys ,,,Jeannie, sorry it wont accept my google address .. if you know how to fix it let me know

    1. You did great Jeannie, keep up that good work. And, remember and lot of those miles were done on our bikes rather than our feet. :-)

      Nope, sorry I don't know how to fix it. If you have a google account, try making sure that you have your email open first. Not sure if that would make a difference or not but you never know.

  6. We enjoyed touring the missions, too -- four of them, skipping the Alamo. Liked hearing and reading about their history, as well as the serenity we felt at each ... at the same time, acknowledging the past assaults on the native people.

    1. We enjoyed the missions as well although we still have to visit the two most southern ones on the trail. Next time! Yes, it is interesting to read about the history, good or bad.


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