Monday, December 7, 2009

Goliad and Presidio La Bahia, The Fort of the Bay

It seemd somewhat of a dicotomy, on one side of the fort a monument to the Texas Revolutionaries slaughtered at the massacre at Goliad, and on the other side a monument to the hero of the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. Its kind of like seeing so many Texans with Mexican heritage and then seeing all the Border Guards driving everywhere in there white and green swiped trucks trying to keep Mexicans out.
We had been invited by George and Val to go to the Christmas Merchants Bazaar at Goliad, Texas, and never having been there we climbed into Vals truck and took off for a new adventure.
Upon arrival, we parked and only had to walk a couple of blocks to the center of town, dominated by the beautiful county courthouse. The streets around the plaza were blocked off and flled with tents and merchants and food courts. Renita and Val turned towards the first tent and I stopped in my tracks as I read the menu on the first food stand.
Which to eat first, it was quite a dilemma! Opting for the sausage on a stick, and then being talked into having it served inside a tortilla, I took my first bite of a greasy hot and somewhat spicy sausage. It was great. Wanting another I resisted the temptation as I had to leave room for a chicken fried steak sandwich or maybe a greasy cheeseburger, both cardiologists nightmares.
We walked around the towns square and while the girls perused the tents I took photos. Its really a neat town! It didn't seem to have changed into the usual tourist trap and the town, seemed to me to actually be filled with real working people, the kind of town I admire.
Before lunch we got a special treat! Santa Claus had arrived atop his Texas Longhorn and he was the star of the parade of Cowboys and Cowgirls, and a small horse drawn buggy. Only in Texas! The longhorn was being led by its handler who kept saying, "Don't get to close", a warning that was heeded by everyone but Val,(Val and George have a ranch on the west slope of the Colorado Rockies).
As soon as the parade passed by we headed to the Empressio Resturant, where we were treated to the best chicken fried steak and cheeseburgers we have had, period. It was a delightful time in a Texas town.
As we walked back to the truck, Val asked us if we wanted to see any other place in the town and Renita spoke up and said, "The Presidio". I was my usual grumpy self after lunch and just wanted to take a nap but I agreed and so we drove to the edge of town and parked in front of the fort.
As usual Renita had made a great choice. As soon as we entered the fort and saw the displays I perked up. The first were of relics dug by archaeologists and then a display of Jean Lafeytte, which told of his use of Galveston Island. Sure enough the next cases held piece after piece of old china fragments just like the ones that litter his main base at Gran Terre.
Entering the main grounds we turned and walked into an alcove and then up a ramp to view the view from a cannon emplacement. Next we entered Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, which is the oldest buiding in the compound. Its also one of the oldest church's in America that has its original groin vaulted ceiling. The fresco above the altar was painted in 1946 by Corpus Christi artist Antonio Garcia and the statue of Our Lady of Loreto was sculpted by Lincoln Borglum of Mount Rushmore fame.
From the fort we next visited the rebuilt home of General Zaragosa, who was born there in Texas and went on to lead the Mexican forces in their surprising defeat of the French in 1862.
Finally, we visited the Fannin memorial. This monument is a tribute to the remains of the Texans slaughtered by the Mexican Army after they had surrendered. About three hundred and fifty died and this was in addition to those executed at the Alamo.
It had been a long day and a day that we had really enjoyed, good food, shopping, a beautiful church, and lots of history. We both strongly recommend Goliad and plan on returning there another day. Clear skies.

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