On my way to Green Valley a couple of weeks ago, I exited off of Interstate 10 onto Interstate 19 – the only stretch of road I’ve been on in the U.S. that uses meters and kilometers instead of feet and miles. In fact, when you get on this road there’s a sign which informs you that signs will now be in the metric system. Funny thing is the speed limit is still posted in miles per hour instead of kilometers per hour.
Anyway, just south of Tucson off I-19 is the little town of Wa:k (aka Bac), a Native American community. This little stretch of land is also part of the Gadsen Purchase – the most expensive land deal in U.S. history just to accommodate the railroad. While driving toward Wa:k you see in the distance a large, Spanish-style church that dominates the desert around it.
This building is an 18th-century mission built in a Spanish baroque style by Franciscan monks. Back when those missionaries arrived in this region there wasn’t a large city nearby. This mission was literally in the middle of nowhere. That makes it all the more impressive when you see the spectacular architecture and the magnificent art inside.
When I saw it off the freeway I knew I had to stop on my way back from Green Valley. So, after my visit to the Titan Missile Museum I stopped at the mission for a visit. It was amazing!
After wandering around the sanctuary, a side garden and chapel and the little museum, I walked up the neighboring hill with the cross on top. It so happens there is a shrine here where the Virgin Mary appeared in 1893.
I was getting a little hungry at that point. In the plaza in front of the mission there were some small bowers with locals selling fry bread and other tasty treats. Not having any cash on me, I looked for a shop that would accept a card. At the other end of the plaza is a small adobe-walled yard with more permanent eateries. That’s where I got a delicious Indian taco on fry bread. Oh so yummy.
Be sure to stop by this fantastic architectural beauty when near Tucson. It will be worth the time.