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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hold the Haunted Tequila! Old Town San Diego

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Old Town San Diego
A quick search of haunted places in San Diego will produce a list that includes a few buildings in what is now referred to as "Old Town."  Next door to the famous Cosmopolitan Hotel previously owned by the party-loving Juan Lorenzo Bandini, sits the quaint adobe-style El Fandango Restaurant.  Decorated from the time period estimating between 1846 through 1856, this costal desert structure provides an intimate dining experience. The fireplaces keep diners warm on breezy nights and the margaritas are possessed by a spirited tequila! After a couple of these you just might think you've seen a ghost!


Why is the El Fandango listed as a haunted site to visit? 


The restaurant is built on the land previously owned by Jose Manuel Machado. Machado built a home for his family, which unfortunately was destroyed by a fire in 1858. Machado is a noted historical figure because he was one of the first soldiers stationed at the Presidio of San Diego.  


Paranormal claims include the repeated siting of a ghostly woman wearing a Victorian-style white dress. The woman is seen drifting through the building, sometimes passing through walls and closed doors. Her expression has been described as sad, or possibly angry. However, this figure does not interact with the living, she simply repeats a series of movements that support the conclusion that this is likely a residual, rather than intelligent haunt. There is no way of truly identifying who this woman is, but some investigators and historians guess it is a lady who worked for the Machado family and perished in the fire.  


silvaAnother popular theory which is also plausible is the woman is an ancestor of the Machado family, or perhaps even Senora Maria Antonia Machado de Silva. In 1846, when the United States captured San Diego, Senora Maria ran from her adobe to the center of Old Town plaza and saved the Mexican flag hanging from the flag pole. She may be lingering, still protecting the home she loved and the land the family claimed. 


My experience at the El Fandango included a delicious meal, Carne Asada and Fandango Platters accompanied by a tasty strawberry Margarita.  I dined beside the outside adobe fireplace and enjoyed the attentive service staff. The patio was peaceful and while I was present, nothing paranormal occurred. Afterwards, I spent some time wandering through the interior while trying not to disturb other diners.  I found the inner atmosphere to be quite different from the breezy patio.  The low ceilings, dark wood and sectioned rooms (including decor) will catapult visitors back in time.  Although still a wonderful experience and place to eat, it was much heavier inside especially in the room with the fireplace. I was not as at ease in this area.  In fact, it made me rather uncomfortable. Did I spot the woman in white? Sadly, not this time...but given the history of the land I don't doubt the reports.  


Even though the main focus of the evening was toward the El Fandango, another building was beckoning me to visit. I hadn't planned on passing by the Robinson-Rose house, but I'm afraid whatever was drawing me towards it didn't care very much about my schedule. I wish the museum had been open so I could have investigated further, but at the late hour, the place was shut up, tight.. All I could do was hang out on the porch and peek through the windows.  However, ever time I ventured away, I was annoyingly drawn back to this area of Old Town, but with limited access not much could be determined. Like the El Fandango, the Robinson-Rose house was destroyed by a fire in 1874. Paranormal claims include hearing footsteps, hair being pulled, flickering lights and an elevator that reportedly runs on its own.


If you're in Old Town and are hungry for some Mexican food, why not give El Fandango a try and afterwards, take a stroll around the park and pass by the Robinson-Rose house.  I'd love to hear if anyone else has had experiences in this area!

1 comment:

  1. I ate there some years ago when we lived in El Cajon (I grew up there, the husband was a Navy man until got out and got job). Never had experiences there, but I did see the solid figure of Mrs. Whaley walking through the courtroom in the Whaley House early afternoon. I actually mention this in my first ghost book I wrote (in Introduction), Haunted Richmond, Virginia. At the time I was peering through the window (I was in high school and on field trip for my high school class) and exchanged places with my friend, to peer in window that looked upon the hallway they kept mantillas and such in cases, as she had left the courtroom into the hallway. No one. We saw the door open and entered, went up to these ladies not in costume as I asked about the tour guide in the costume. They told me they didn't wear costumes and asked for a description, which I gave. I was then told I saw Mrs. Whaley's ghost.

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