Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In search of Antonio

It was actually by chance that both of the haciendas I just visited were movie sets of Antonio Banderas films, Hacienda Jaral de Barrio and Hacienda Gogorron.  Both are near the border of the states of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosi, an area rich in haciendas.  I felt a strong sadness for these magnificent works of art, at the same time knowing that the same magnificence was at the disposal of human lives suffering under the feudal system know as the haciendas. Unlike other haciendas I have seen, these had such wealth slapped onto the structure, so that everyone could see. Jaral de Berrios was constructed as if Maximilian himself had built the thing. ( I am thinking of the opulence of wealth he displayed at Jardin Borda, Cuernavaca)  The most famous owner, Marquis de Jaral de Berrio, was also the original owner of Palacio de Iturbide in Mexico City. The wealth came from gold and silver mines, the hacienda producing the animals needed to work the ore.

Upper level living room

Outer facade, yes this is where Antonio plays his guitar in the opening of "Once Upon a Time in Mexico"

Servants stairwell
All the rooms boasted of hand painted wallpaper
My favorite mural

Grain Silos

Hacienda church

This is the living room one might be received when visiting the owner. Entry level. Not one spec of space is NOT hand painted.

Typical work area of a hacienda

Olive tree brought over by the first owner
Next we drove over to Hacienda Gogorron, built in 1592.  Yet another hacienda built from mining wealth. There were 12 foundry ovens for extracting the precious metals, I found two, yet I am sure there are remains of them all if you know where to look.  Haciendas are sites which must be seen more than once, you can always find something new to photograph each trip.  The government sign told us this hacienda had many lives.  During the late 17th century, the owner had his own hydroelectric plant, who does that? Later, it functioned as a textile factory.  The main building, a magnificent palace we discovered was built in 1920.                                                                               
Newer Palace interior
interior stair to upper floor
 I actually forgot to photograph the front of this palace, this is the interior court yard.  When I found the older part, I forgot all about the fancy part of the hacienda. I think I did this in both places, sorry, you need to make a trip out there yourself on your next visit to San Miguel de Allende.

Now, I need to see the movie Zorro, again. This appears to be a Chinese restaurant in some kind of China Town.

Walls painted red, movie people. 

Chinese restaurant? 

Sometimes hard to tell the real from the movie, they did many changes.

Movie set for Zorro, town square

The movie people repainted the church, the guy who opened the church for us showed us the only original wall. You could not see much. Was this the ways it was in the 1600's?  It looked authentic enough.
The original working hacienda

fence blocking a stair to the underground level

Notice it had three levels at one time

I loved the shadows in this area. At first I thought, several swimming pools. Most likely this was part of the ore processing pools, or even dying pools of the textile plant. Will find out more on the next trip.
 I do apologize for not photographing the most fancy of both of the haciendas.  I missed the grand stair of Berrios with its painted sky in the large boveda above. Was it that all of this turned me off?   I later began to think of why, and realized I felt sorry for the buildings. That grand display of wealth, the throwing away of money, and at the expense of people who lived on the land as slaves, sort of does make me sick. The revolution came, and the grand building suffered. They crumbled, rotted away, while the only hope of continuance is to rent them out for movies? At Berrios, its integrity was honored. At Gogorron, looks like no one cared what they did to the buildings, nor asked them to return it to its origin. Now, the movie set is in ruins.   Each is owned privately, so what happens to each hacienda is up to the owner. Some the public can get into, yet very few have been given to the government for museums.  I heard there are over 400 haciendas in Guanajuato alone, most never open to the public.  History lost, or not?