I first visited Alamos in 1986. I had heard about the charming small town for years as I spent winters with my parents in San Carlos since I was a child. We always stayed at Playa Cortes, the old, elegant hotel in Miramar.
My parents died in 1985 and my husband and I returned to San Carlos in 1986 for the winter as we always had. San Carlos seemed empty without my parents so we decided to go see what Alamos was about. We were enchanted by the lovely foothills of the Sierra Madres and the winding road to Alamos. We were delighted when we crested the last hill and saw the little town in the valley and the church steeple rising above it.
We ventured up the small street that led to the Plaza de Las Armas and took note of the lovely adobe architecture and felt like we had ventured back in time to another era. We parked on the plaza, crossed the street, and sat on a bench to feel the town. We looked at each other and remarked on how we both felt as though we had been there before. I could see myself as a Spanish lady living there long ago. In my mind I had on a silk dress and silk slippers and was carrying a parasol. Was this just an active imagination or recalling a past life? My husband had the same feeling of knowing he had been here before, but not in this life.
Someone directed us to Hotel Casa de los Tesoros and we checked in for the night. At that time, Edith Pratt was the hostess as Darley had been before her. Cocktails were served at 6:30 on the portal and musicians played. We also were told that one dressed for dinner and that we would be seated with other guests.
As promised, we sat on the lovely portal in leather chairs and were serenaded by mariachis as we sipped our margaritas. Local Americans drifted in. We were sitting in two leather rocking chairs near our room and soon two American gentlemen arrived and informed us we were in their chairs. That was our first introduction to Pember Nuzum and Craig Hill, who had their cocktails at the Tesoros every night. They were delightful gentlemen.
Soon Edith Pratt informed us dinner was served and she escorted us to our table in a lovely dining room and introduced us to the other diners. Edith made sure we had interesting people near us. This was part of the enchantment of the Tesoros at that time.
In the evening, while we were at dinner, a fire was built in our room and the beds were turned down, so we returned to a warm cozy room after an enchanting dinner and a short walk through the plaza. During our evening walk, we sat down on a high curb on Calle Obregon in front of what is now La Mansion Hotel. It was dark except for the glow of dim street lights and as we sat there, we heard a man playing a guitar and singing. The music seemed to reverberate off the high adobe walls of the houses that lined the street. It was very surreal. The musician strolled up the street, singing and playing and as he passed us, gave a nod. At that moment, we knew we were in love with the little town of Alamos.
The next morning, we heard a knock on the door of our room and found a boy with hot, very strong Mexican coffee and fresh orange juice on a silver tray with flowers. He informed us that breakfast would be served in the dining room in an hour.
After breakfast, we set out on foot to explore the town. It was such an incredible adventure for us as our profession in Taos, New Mexico, was restoring old adobes. We thought we might have fallen into adobe heaven.
We spent the first week in Alamos just walking the streets and looking at the incredible architecture. Gerda and Bill Guevara had recently purchased an old adobe home on the corner of Obregon and Juarez and were just finishing the renovation. We wandered in and Gerda, whom we immediately liked, told us she would give us a special rate if we wanted to stay for a month or two, as she was just opening. She showed us a lovely room on the Jarez side and we moved in. She served breakfast in the courtyard every morning and we ate with her and Bill. People who had recently acquired houses and had no kitchens yet came every morning. So we met more delightful people at La Mansion.
We were at this point hooked. The enchantment of the town, the ambiance, the relaxed lifestyle, the lovely people, both Mexican and American. So we started searching for a house. In those days, 1986, there were very few houses for sale in the historic district. They were either owned by Mexican families who had lived in them for many generations or foreigners who had discovered Alamos jn the 1950s. So it took us several years to settle on a house that was right for us. We eventually bought Calle Sonora, #18. We needed a yard and not just small courtyard as we had two black lab-mix dogs that needed space. The house had a walled acre with a lovely courtyard, orchard, and garden.
We bought the house from Mary Alice Montgomery who was from Texas and she had, over the years, brought fabulous, citrus trees of exceptional quality to the orchard. Every year at harvest time, I had the gardener load the truck with fruit and I’d drive out to the barrios and he’d open the back and invite the people to take fruit. Soon the word got out in the barrios that some gringo was giving away fruit and everyone came with bags, five-gallon buckets, and tubs of various sizes to collect fruit. It never took longer than half an hour and the truck was empty and I was on my way home.
Our bedroom fronted on Calle Sonora and every morning I loved to listen as the townspeople went to work. Lots of men going from the campo to work at a ranch or house rode up Sonora on their horses. I heard the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves on the cobblestones. Wood for the fireplaces was delivered on burros, so many burros also passed our house with loads of wood. Clip-clop. Clip-clop. I also heard the ladies of town walking by and discussing the day ahead. It was lovely to hear the town slowly coming to life.
We lived in Alamos until 2001 when a house in San Carlos I had always wanted came on the market and we bought it. I still miss Alamos and who knows, I may return some day.