Took a trip to Monterey/Carmel over the weekend. The aquarium was fantastic as usual but I was especially happy to visit la Misión de San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. It is the resting place of Junipero Serra.
For me, the visits to the missions here in California elicit a different type of emotion that they would for others. My time studying in Spain and Mexico has given me a deep understanding and appreciation for the history of both nations. To think I’m standing in a spot where the Spanish explorers once stood after traveling half a world and many years away, and that I’ve stood in spots in Mexico and Spain where they also passed through on the way fills me with awe.
I am also acutely aware of what these missions did to the Indian population and of the immense cruelty and sadness they caused. It is especially outrageous since I consider Christianity to be something made up, a movement born of the chaos of Roman occupied Jerusalem which over time became something else and does not contain much of the original cult. Thousands of Native Americans died at the cruelty of the Spaniards as they tried to force conversion of the “savages” to something that was never true in the first place. I see the other visitors wanting to touch the statues, kneeling down in front of large doll like figurines that represent a Jesus or Mary and I can’t help but think in an age where we have learning, we have science and universities everywhere that people still cannot shake these superstitions, this magic. I see the images of those friars and soldiers that lived 245 years ago and am astounded that my fellow visitors still hold the exact same beliefs and superstitions.
The missions are a place of immense cruelty built up from forced labor/slavery and now over the bones of Native Americans all for a warped and twisted cult. And visitors, even Native American’s own ancestors go there to pray to a supposed God of love but the travesty of what actually occurred is almost never understood.