search for old haciendas. We go out into the state of Jalisco's back country once a month and spend a full day locating these historic old sites. Generally we can find three or four sites during one of these jaunts. After a while, Carole began calling us the "Hacienda Hunters" and it stuck. Recently we created an embroidered logo to sew on our shirts, hats, or backpacks. We haven't yet invented a secret handshake, but who knows? Our hard-core group is 4-6 people, with another half a dozen or so who come and go according to the season. I do all the background research on the sites, and attempt to pin down their exact locations in advance of the adventure. This is not an easy task and, in the process, I have assembled a considerable library about Mexican haciendas. Even with all that information, it can still be challenging, because few sources specify precise locations. Many of the old ruins can only be found at the end of some remote, nameless, dirt road. As my father used to say, places like this are "out beyond where God buried his bicycle." Some sites I will show in this series will be close to the bicycle. However, the two I will show in this posting are not quite that remote. They can be found very close to the Bosque de la Primavera, one of my favorite hiking sites located just west of Guadalajara.
Hacienda La Venta de Astillero
Orden de los Hermanos de Nuestra Señora de Bethlehem, also known as the Betlemitas. The Betlemitas, founded in Guatemala in 1656, were the first Catholic religious order created in the New World. They dedicated themselves to providing assistance to the poor. The Bishop donated Hacienda La Venta del Astillero as a means of funding the hospital, hence the statue in the niche. In his words "the health of the people is the supreme law." It was common during colonial times for convents, religious orders, and even individual priests and friars to own haciendas, despite their vows of poverty and Spanish laws forbidding such ownership. The Betlemitas owned the hacienda for 100 years, until 1888, and during this time it was known as Hacienda Belén. Although no longer associated with the hacienda, or the Betlemitas, the hospital is still in operation and is now known as the Hospital Civil de Guadalajara.
*A Vision of the Haciendas of Zapopan, Municipal Archives, Zapopan, Jalisco, 2003
Hacienda La Primavera