Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
I asked Arturo how we should pay for our visit. He said we could offer a small amount to
whomever we photographed or talked to. I suggested that we put our funds together and
let the Tarahumara allocate. Arturo picked up a small clay pot and we dropped in pesos.
Before returning to the pickup truck, Arturo led us to a cave, once lived in, higher up on
the hill. It provided the barest of shelter, but here in the desert, it seemed a mansion.
Arturo drove along the river then stopped. We followed him down the steep bank to the
riverbed, climbing over boulders. We walked upstream, following the river on smooth
river stones. Vertical red cliffs cupped us like two enormous hands. Arturo pointed out an
eagle's nest. A young eagle, not mature, but not an eaglet either, circled overhead.
Two boys were fishing in the river with a spool and line, using dough for bait. They had
chosen a spot where the river took a twist, where large boulders nearly damned the river
and created a pool. We climbed out on a large granite rock. There was a clear pool about
fifteen feet below. We could see the fish swimming in a school, but the boys had no luck.
We climbed back up the trail to the road. It was after noon. The sun was overhead. Arturo
drove us back to Batopilas. Lunch and cold drinks were in demand. Carmen hardly spoke.
She had wilted in the heat. We told Arturo that we would like to go on his mine tour later
in the afternoon, but we needed a three-hour rest. He agreed to return to the plaza at 4
o'clock. He said he would show us the finest swimming hole in Batopilas, and we would
enter the abandoned San Miguel Mine. He added, “Bring a flashlight.”
After a rest, our spirits were refreshed. We clambered back into the truck and drove to the
mouth of the mine, a gaping hole, pure rock, large enough for a good-sized truck to enter.
Painted on the wall of the mine in red letters was “Do not enter: Dangerous Mine.” It was.
Arturo's advice to bring flashlights was the minimum precaution. He knew the mine well.
The danger was not from a rock falling. The mine was solid rock, without supports. The
danger was that it appeared to be safe. About twenty yards from the mouth of the mine, at
a point where one still felt comfortable about entering, and when your eyes were still ad-
justing to the the darkness, there was a shaft that dropped twenty feet. And, it was nearly
as wide as the floor of the cave. We crossed that shaft on a two-foot ledge.
We followed Arturo in single file. He led us past shafts and drifts. One shaft was filled
with crystalline water. He told us to be silent then he pitched a stone into the water. Though
the stone was falling through the water, we could hear its sound as it tumbled and bounced
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