Where All Those Cantera Carvings Come From

Many of the carved Cantera stone figures
Architectural details, columns and canales,
Saints, angels and fountains
Come from a small town
In the Queretaro mountains
Adjacent and a few kilometers away
From the town of Pedro Escobedo,
In a town named Escolasticas.
A rose amidst simple round column shapes, Escolastica, Cantera

John had gone there with his boys
Two Christmases ago and wanted to go back.
We hopped in the car with Richard & Chris,
And were off to see if we could find
This remote town on our own.

Escolastica lies in the hills,
About an hour outside of Queretaro.
The highways are good and it’s easy going
Until you get to Pedro Escobedo
Where you know you have to turn.

The highway makes a detour
To main street, where you can buy
Tacos, chicken, baskets, groceries
Visit with your neighbors, buy eggs,
Get your car washed or find a taxi.
But there isn’t one sign for the road to Escolastica

Studio at Escolasticas

About four blocks down,
I unroll my window
Ask a man on the street
If he knows the road to Escolastica.
‘Hijole’ he says (like oh God!)
He motions around in a circle
Tells us to go left, then left, then straight
And keep going.
Which of course leads us exactly back
To where we were.

We go left, where there is a line up of taxis
We ask the lead driver if he knows the route.
He tells us to go left, then left and straight
Todo direcho – keep going straight
And you’ll get there.
Wall insert of a lion, Escolasticas, Cantera
It looks like a dead end to nowhere
So we head back up the highway road
Thinking once we get out of town
There will be a sign.
As we leave town, we realize the map says
That the road is not outside of town
But somewhere in the middle.
We turn around again and John
Stops a gas truck to ask a third time.
The driver tells us, “go past the light, three streets
Turn left and keep going.
You’ll see signs for la Lira
Then Escolastica.”

This works, but it doesn’t look right
A cobblestone road, barely rideable
Past old buildings that look like
Abandoned stone jails.
But soon there is a sign for la Lira,
A town, and down a little street
That doesn’t seem like it can go anywhere
Then across the ‘highway’
Really, a small two lane paved road
Which leads us 7 km more into Escolastica.
You know you are there
When you start seeing things like the carvings below
And when a car goes by, or the wind blows
It picks up all the stone dust and blows it around
Drying out your face and throat.

Griffin figure, Escolasticas, Cantera

As we arrive, there is a long stretch of nothing but carvings
Then a long stretch of town, which is surprisingly large
Followed by a stretch of countryside
With a few studios, carvings behind wire fences,
Then a long stretch of big workshops
Where they cut the large pieces
With saws that have teeth that are an inch and a half long
Whose cuttings, mixed with water hit the wall beyond
Making an image the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Large saw with carbide 'dientes' Teeth, Escolasticas, Cantera

There are carvings of every imaginable shape and style,
Angels, virgins, saints, monsters, soldiers and mermaids
Sleeping cherub, angel figure, Escolastica, Cantera

And architectural features and forms
Canales that look like animals, along with simple plain ones
You can imagine water flowing from their mouths

Jaguar canales, Escolastica, Cantera
Sitting atop blocks and cylinders of stone,
with carved pillars at top

Men fighting beasts
Where would one put something like this? 

Roman soldier and the minataur, Escolastica, Cantera

Angels of all kinds

Angel holding flowers, Escolastica, Cantera

In the midst of what appears to be a dirty, dusty, unkempt, disorderly
Group of workshops, you’ll find inside
A very neatly arranged tool bench

Tools of the trade, hand carving tools, Escolastica, Cantera

A workspace worthy of the piece they are working on,
A large round rose that will go in the top of a church
Carving a rose, Escolastica, Cantera

Next to the calendar girl that normally adorns the workshop wall
But there are no walls in these workshops
So she is bound to the telephone pole

Every shop has one of these, or something similar, Escolastica, Cantera

Roman, Christian soldiers on chariots
Are surrounded by birds and fountains
And we all started singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’

Roman soldier in a chariot, Escolastica, Cantera

A rustic hacienda style,
Low palapa roof home
Sits at the back of one workshop
Guarded by a life size lion
Shaded by a large tree
In a garden of cactus.


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Shady studio with large lion, Escolasticas, Cantera