there were photos of men shoveling the guano into bags. The roof leaked and ruined mur-
als on the second floor. I was bewildered that a once-wealthy family, through pure neglect,
or lack of funds, had permitted an architectural treasure to suffer years of water damage.
I spent two days in Parral, two days of side-by-side holidays, Día de Los Niños (Day of
the Children) and Día del Labor (Mexico's Labor Day). I needed the rest, and this was
the perfect spot. I took short walks. There were a number of plazas where I could just sit
and watch. I enjoyed the Day of the Children, with its parade of floats. Every conceivable
commercial cartoon character waved to the crowds of lining the parade route. The children
waved with long, slender balloons that looked like light sabers from Star Wars. Mexicans
love the Virgin of Guadalupe and children.
Because it was a holiday, the city came to a commercial halt, but the museums were open.
I took a tour of the city in a mini-tourist train. A tractor, fitted to look like a locomotive,
pulled tourists in open-air cars around the city center while a guide explained the history
and pointed out places of interest.
Pancho was born Doroteo Arango. When he was sixteen, he assaulted the hacendero , who
may have raped his sister, and fled. For the next twenty years, Doroteo was a bandit and
cattle rustler, and he changed his name to Pancho Villa. But when he took up arms for
Francisco Madero, the intellectual leader of the 1910 Revolution, Pancho became a hero
in the eyes of his people. In the taking of Ciudad Juarez and Zacatecas, Pancho showed
that he was a brilliant military leader. Pancho Villa's granddaughter, Rosa Helia Villa Me-
bius, told me that her grandfather became a symbol of pride as the underdog who baffled
In 1920, Pancho retired. He accepted a hacienda-ranch south of Parral and gold from Mex-
ico's government in payment for his services and promised to stay out of politics. He lived
there with multiple wives, children and loyal followers. Pancho became a rancher and a
capitalist. He apparently felt secure after three years and, although he traveled with body-
guards, his habits betrayed him, and he was ambushed and killed.
The prize of Parral was the Pancho Villa Museum. It was not large, but was located in the
building from where Pancho was ambushed and assassinated in 1923. The museum gave
a complete history of Pancho's life and an incredibly detailed list of Pancho's twenty-five
wives and twenty-four children. I once met Manuel Arango, a businessman, and asked him
if he was related. He said, “I don't know, but Pancho had a very fast horse.”