This past September the Villa San Agustin de Laredo Genealogical Society hosted the 20th annual Texas State Hispanic Genealogical Conference. The day preceding the conference three busloads of genealogists were taken on a whirlwind tour of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.
The buses departed the hotel a little past 8:00 a.m. and headed towards the international bridge at Columbia, Tx. and crossed over to Dolores, Nuevo Leon on their way to their first stop which was Lampazos de Naranjo. There we were greeted by city officials and given a brief tour of the Casa de Cultura (cultural center) which has the town's ojo de agua (natural spring) running through it. From there we were driven to the 17th century Mission de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, an architectural beauty. The city has converted it into a beautiful museum.
Candela was the next stop, visiting another 17th century church, San Carlos Borromeo, constructed in 1694. We also visited the Regional Historical Museum.
Our next stop on our tour was the quaint small town of Bustamante, famous for its caves, bread, and mezcal. Lunch was waiting for us at the municipal park & pool grounds, under a huge palapa. We feasted on cabrito guisado, cabrito en sangre, carne guisada, arropado (steamed lamb with vegetables), with all the trimmings such as rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, and corn tortillas. After lunch, a house was visited where they still bake their delicious semitas and empanadas in an outdoor adobe oven. Arts and crafts stores were also visited and on our way out a mezcal factory was toured, seeing how the process of mezcal is made. At the store most everyone tried out samples of mezcal, drinking out of a bull's horn.
From Bustamante we went to Villaldama, running behind schedule we just drove through town and stopped long enough to take photos of a church perched on top of a hill on the edge of town.
We then drove through the mountains to Sabinas Hidalgo where we were met by city officials and toured their museum and the San José Temple constructed in 1710 in the Churriguresque style architecture, with its beautiful gold leaf altar.
Leaving Sabinas Hidalgo towards Laredo we stopped in Vallecillo, a former mining town. We visited La Casa de la Plomada, which is the town's cultural center built in 1876 with its walls being perfectly plumb. We were served refreshments there by the city officials and about 10:00 p.m. departed towards Laredo, arriving about midnight at the bridge and about 1:00 a.m. at the hotel.
Even though this was a very long trip to cover in one day, everyone was satisfied with the generous hospitality shown to us by all city officials in the towns visited. We were all welcomed back soon and I encourage anyone to at least visit a couple of these towns to capture the real country atmosphere of colonial Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
I also would like to congratulate the Villa San Agustin de Laredo Genealogical Society for organizing a great conference and a one day tour, led by Dr. Mario Manuel Escoto Santoyo, that most of us will not forget. We invite everyone of our readers to attend next years conference in Corpus Christi. More information on that one later.