We drove past a long, well-kept colonial-style building with a blue-tiled cupola. It was a
private chapel and part of the luxury by-reservation-only Hotel Riverside. There was no
name on the building. The bus made its final turn, and the splendid sight of the town square
greeted us, with an ironwork bandstand framed in the background by a brightly colored
mural of Tarahumara children.
Children played in the street. There was a soccer game, and a boy and his sister bounced
on a tire trying to make one another lose balance. Cows roamed freely, seemed to own the
street, paid us little attention and were the town's street sweepers, licking up fallen leaves
that lay on the cobblestones. I saw more cows in Batopilas than I've ever seen in Texas.
Othello (the nickname for the man reading Shakespeare) suggested Mary's Hotel. Several
of us entered and asked to see a room. Because the owner was out, the maid offered to
show us a room.
The office was locked; the maid tried to jimmy the latch with a table knife. I said, “Pardon
me. My misspent youth might be handy here.” I took the knife and popped the lock open.
There was mild surprise from onlookers.
Mary's did not have room for all of us. I noted there was no air- conditioning. At the end
of the plaza was Juanita's. It was attractive, with an inner patio, overlooked the river and
offered central air-conditioning. Juanita charged $20 a night for a single.
I took a walk before dinner. There was a library and an Internet at the Centro Comunitario
de Aprendizaje I retraced the main street back to the green iron bridge. Near the bridge
was an artist's studio. Luís was a German artist who chose Batopilas for his home and stu-
dio. I looked at the fine detailed paintings. “Are they pen and ink?” I asked.
“No, they are watercolors.”
I promised to meet Carmen and Einar for dinner so I started to walk back. I passed a shack
that was selling beer and soft drinks. A man spoke up. He looked like a wrangler. He wore
a cowboy hat and white cowboy shirt. He was solid, with muscular arms and a mustache.
“Are you with a group?” he asked.
“No, I'm by myself,” I said.
He introduced himself, “Arturo, guide.”