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off the shaft's walls as it fell to the bottom. He then led us to the veta , a silver-lead vein.
There was silver. It was just a matter of the cost of mining versus the price per ounce.
Arturo told us to be still and turn off our flashlights. It seemed to get colder with the lights
out. In the black silence no one stirred. We waited in suspense. Someone in the dark spoke
sharply, “Get your hands off!” We burst out laughing, and the flashlights came back on.
Amber felt claustrophobic in spite of the large tunnels. She was happy to leave the mine.
Arturo directed us back down the canyon from the San Miguel Mine. He crossed a bridge,
drove the truck off the road and up the left side of the riverbank. He stopped. Women were
washing their laundry. “It's upstream from Batopilas. The water is safe and clean,” he said.
We felt like a swim, but caution ruled. Arturo picked up a smooth river stone and skipped
it across the river. We all got into this childhood sport. Arturo was champ.
We agreed to meet in the plaza at 7:30 p.m. for dinner. Heidi recommended the Swinging
Bridge Restaurant. “They have live music and cold beer,” she said.
At dinner I ordered arrachera, a thin-cut Mexican steak. But the cut, influenced by tourists
I suspect, was thick. I mentioned to Heidi that I had spent Day of the Dead in San Miguel
de Allende.
Heidi asked, “Did you pass a hacienda called La California?”
“I filmed it,” I said. “I know Rosalia Peña.” Heidi had dated Rosalia's brother Martin.
La California is an architecturally eclectic hacienda, a mini-Hearst Castle, inspired by
places that Casimiro Peña, the patriarch of the family, visited while traveling around the
world. He named the hacienda for his alma mater, Cal Poly, in San Luís Obispo, Califor-
nia. For the second time, six degrees of separation turned into one.
The conjunto (three-piece band) arrived. An American, Lynn, came to our table and intro-
duced herself. She had a jewelry store in Batopilas, “Open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily,”
she said. She told us that the conjunto charged 100 pesos ($9) for three songs.
I called the conjunto over and requested a few songs. They played Norteño style, a polka-
beat rhythm. Arturo asked Heidi to dance. Heidi sprang up and I don't recall them sitting
down. A young man came over and spoke with Amber. She practiced her Spanish, and
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