In 2007, my dad and I started a treasure hunt in Chihuahua (read more on that here) and struck gold, finding various artwork my great-grandfather Hector had left behind and connecting with our extended family. Andrés and I went to Chihuahua this time to celebrate the 60th birthday of one of my cousins and check up on the restoration project at Quintas Carolinas, where my great-grandfather painted over 100 years ago.
Neither of us knew what we were in for! First of all, the “party” was actually a 3-day celebration, where Andrés and I got to know my extended family and some of their local and international friends. These folks know how to party, which I think is what keeps them looking so young!
When I first planned to re-visit Quintas Carolinas, I got in touch with Francisco Muñoz. He’s the great-grandson of Luis Terrazas , the man who hired Hector so long ago. Through public-private partnership, Francisco and an amazing team have been raising funds and dedicating countless hours to restoring the ruined estate to its former glory.
By coincidence, the Misiones Coloniales had organized a 4-hour tour of the estate, exactly on the weekend we were visiting for the birthday party. Andrés and I joined about 50 other people who were either involved in or simply interested to learn more about this beautiful project.
Back in 2007, my dad and I had found Quintas Carolinas thanks to the city historian, Ruben Beltran. On that visit, we were relieved that Hector’s work had been protected in the chapel and wondered if anyone would ever restore the ruined estate. Here I was almost 10 years later, walking into a full room of visitors, seeing Ruben’s familiar face, and being introduced as “the great-granddaughter of the muralist, E. Serbaroli”. It was surreal!
Later that day, we also got to visit an old mansion in Chihuahua city center. On our last trip, my dad and I had no idea we’d been so close to finding 2 of Hector’s ceiling frescos. It had taken an email from London (a wild story) to locate them! Seeing them live was like coming full circle, and later that night (at my cousin Norma’s birthday party), we met a great-great nephew of Manuel Falomir, who would’ve hired Hector to paint those ceilings.
Another thing we hadn’t expected was the COLD weather, which we were woefully unprepared for! We had a great time in our short visit, but were relieved to head south again and warm up! We left Chihuahua behind and flew back to Mexico, D.F.!