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On Sharing History

There is nothing more dreaded, other than perhaps a root canal or a tax audit, than a history class. My beloved friend and repeat customer, Dalia (I know she won’t mind my outing her), groaned about the lengthy lectures on our Spanish Missions tour two years ago. So, I’ll cut back on them, a little. But to give them up altogether? No way José! What could be more fun than learning all the juicy stories about famous and not so famous people?

In the case of our upcoming Copper Canyon to Cabo tour, how about those British engineers who had to build that incredible railway down into the Canyon? Lean out the window of the train, with the wind whipping against you, and look down thousands of feet at the spiderweb of steel that is holding up the rickety tracks. Think about the fright and frustration of having to clamber up to put that girder in place. Or the debatable justice of Porfirio Diaz encouraging foreigners to come in and strip the copper out of the mines or the oil from the wells. What would you have done?

And why is the Sea of Cortes named for him? After years of teaching Latin American History, I had never looked at Cortes beyond the Conquest. I knew he had been given the state of Oaxaca as his fiefdom, and that his sons inherited, but then what happened? What was the rest of the story? Turns out he came up to Baja California, founded the town of La Paz (where we’ll get to explore much as he did), and helped found the Dominican missions. Who knew? That’s the wonderful thing about history. There is always more to learn.     

In just a bit, I am headed to Sunday School class where, this time, I am not pontificating. It’s up to Kermit (no, not the frog) to tell us about Elijah and Elisha. But next week, look out! It’s back to dividing up the class into Israelites, Gentiles and Romans and letting them battle it out over what to do about Jesus.

That, to me, is the whole point of history. Not so much what would Jesus do, but what would YOU have done given your personality in a given historical situation? I put my Road Scholar classes in San Antonio in the same dilemma. I’ll be with them in the glorious Drury Hotel on Monday and Tuesday. What would they have done faced with a possible revolt in their own community in 1810 when Father Hidalgo leads the revolt in Mexico City?

And if you were granted nearly 5,000 acres of land, your own League and Labor, to settle by the Mexican government, would you have joined the Anglo rebels to fight against Santa Anna? Interesting to learn that, according to my professor Dr. Paul Lack, 90% of the Texian Army were NOT native Texans. They were outsiders from the United States hoping to gain those huge land grants. And the native Texans only wanted to keep theirs by keeping their heads down and their mouths shut!

So, my beloved Dalia, yes, we will be steeped in history for the duration of the tour. After all, what good would a Historical Tour be without the history? And it will be fascinating and fun, I promise!