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margretmaker

Jul 12, 2009, 3:59 PM

Post #1 of 5 (4156 views)

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ancient eucalyptus trees

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Does anyone know any history, or the age of the two giant eucalyptus trees near the Old Posada/Ajijic pier?



cookj5

Jul 13, 2009, 1:40 PM

Post #2 of 5 (4081 views)

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Re: [margretmaker] ancient eucalyptus trees

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Don't know the history of the trees, but the Old Posada itself has a fascinating history. In the 1520's the site of what is now Ajijic was granted to a cousin of Hernan Cortes, the Conquistador who conquered Mexico. The cousin's name was Saenz. By 1530, the Ajijic area was a huge hacienda, based in the home Saenz who built it on the current site of the Old Posada. On top of the home was a mill where the local Indians brought their corn to be milled. They were summoned each morning by the blast of a conch shell horn. The hills around Ajijic were planted with mescal plants for making tequila (a big money-maker), and also corn and coffee. Amazingly, the mill, under various owners, continued in operation until the 1940's, a run of over 400 years! Later, the site of Saenz home became the Posada hotel, and when the Nueva Posada was built, the Saenz site became a restaurant named the Old Posada. I'm sure I left out some important details here, so anyone who knows more of the history should wade right in.


tonyburton


Jul 13, 2009, 2:28 PM

Post #3 of 5 (4074 views)

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Re: [cookj5] ancient eucalyptus trees

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Sorry to play the role of spoiler but the chronology at the start of your account is clearly not correct. The first time Spaniards saw the north shore of the lake was in late February or early March 1530. A Franciscan mission was established in Ajijic in 1531 and Chapala in 1548. Any haciendas in this area would have been established much later.

In addition, it is uncertain precisely when people first deliberately cultivated agave plants on any scale (as opposed to relying on the harvesting of wild agaves), but there are certainly no records of this happening in the first half of the 16th century. The distillation of agaves to produce tequila is believed to date from the second half of the 16th century; the earliest substantiated written record dates from 1621. Even by this date, tequila production would have been small scale and undoubtedly relied entirely on the harvesting of wild agave plants.

The version about Saenz being Cortes’ cousin has been published informally (without any verifiable sources) several times since at least the 1970s, and appears on some websites, but I have never been able to find any evidence whatsoever to substantiate such a claim. Even though I doubt its authenticity, I’d love to be proved wrong!

For the early history of tequila, see: http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1222-did-you-know-tequila-dates-from-the-si
xteenth-century


[Shameless self-promotion note: Readers interested in learning more about the history of the Lake Chapala are encouraged to read my Lake Chapala Through the Ages, an anthology of travellers’ tales, published last year - review by James Tipton]


(This post was edited by tonyburton on Jul 13, 2009, 2:30 PM)


cookj5

Jul 14, 2009, 5:22 PM

Post #4 of 5 (4008 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] ancient eucalyptus trees

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Tony- I got my information from the following source:

http://www.ajijicvillas.com/history.php

However, I defer to your expertise on the history of the area. On that, you da man!


tonyburton


Jul 14, 2009, 6:00 PM

Post #5 of 5 (3999 views)

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Re: [cookj5] ancient eucalyptus trees

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Yes, the Saenz version is widely disseminated on the web. I'd really love to pin down when and where it first appeared. Presumably it was published somewhere prior to the advent of the Internet, but where? All help welcomed!
 
 
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