Unlike most people, I don't like to travel during the Semana Santa long weekend. Also, I've been a little tired, bored, and for this reason I had made no plans... until Rodolfo asked Saturday morning "Aren't we going to go out somewhere"?
I had thought of Bustamante, a little village in the northern part of my state where there are caves, a natural spring, a canyon and other sites of interest. But I've never been there and, since it's located in the north, very close to Tamaulipas (where violent incidents are now reappearing), I just didn't want to try that route driving my own car. The buses to Bustamante departed very late in the afternoon, so that wasn't a choice.
And then I remembered that we had long been postponing a visit to Garcia, the city right next to Santa Catarina, the place where we live. It used to be a village, and for that reason many people still call it by its original name: "Villa de García". But it has grown so much in recent years that it has been declared a city.
The territory of Garcia is very vast, but only a small part is populated and, like many other little villages, in has a pretty square in the old center, just opposite to the San Juan Bautista church. There are many vast properties in the streets of the old centro, with orchards and lots of tall trees like pecan trees and avocado trees as well. The old houses are big and impressive, and as you drive by you can see the adobe walls surrounding them. It is a pity that many of them have been abandoned and left to decay.
One of this properties, built in 1835, was purchased by Mauricio Fernandez, a wealthy businessman who ran for the Government of the state of Nuevo Leon in 2003, but was defeated; he continued his career as a politician and became the major of San Pedro Garza Garcia in 2009. Between the two campaigns, he had the house restored by architect Jorge Loyzaga who maintained the original style of the construction. In April 2000 the works were finished and the museum called Museo El Ojo (The Eye Museum) ws opened to the public.
Rodolfo and I first visited the main square of Garcia, where we had some tacos and visited the few stands prepared for that day. In one of them I purchased a nopal beer at $35 MXP, that, according to the woman in charge, was made right there in Garcia. I later found out that it's made in Czech Republic and imported by a company located in Garcia.
It made me remember that, a few weeks ago we visited an interesting market in Monterrey that sells mainly organic produce, non-industrialized food products, and vegetarian dishes,and I was surprised to find there two or three varieties of Don Ramiro, a brand of wine that is proudly produced in Garcia, Nuevo Leon. There will be a grape harvest festival in June which I will not miss.
Museo El Ojo shows the collection that was reunited by Televisa on occasion of the 1986 FIFA World Cup and was the first exhibition of Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, composed of ceramic pieces from Oaxaca, Jalisco, Estado de Mexico, Puebla, and Michoacan. Well, it seems that Mr. Fernandez purchased that collection and, together with some other works of his property, put it on display at Museo El Ojo in order to promote art in Garcia.
After a short visit to the piece of land that I purchased a few years ago (it's only that, a small piece of land, but I have some plans for the future...) we headed to Grutas de Garcia, the striking caves inside the mountain called Cerro del Fraile, which reportedly were formed between 50 and 60 million years ago.
Normally, we would use the cable car to reach the entrance of the caves, but the place was packed (well, this is really an understatement) because of the holidays (holy days) and we would have to wait close to two hours for our turn. So we had no option but to climb the mountain... fortunately I like exercise and I'm not too overweight.
I've visited these caves several times in my life, so I can't say that I was much impressed. But Rodolfo was, it was his first time and though he was a little tired and the crowd made the tour very slow, he enjoyed it a lot.
After the caves, we returned to the main plaza anticipating a great meal at Icamole restaurant: flour tortillas, fresh hand-made corn tortillas, and a variety of typical dishes of the region, all of them delicious. But, much to my surprise and disappointment, it was closed. This is another reason that will make me come back to Garcia.