Her picture appears in every possible context: in churches, on t-shirts, on low rider cars, even sprayed on boarded-up windows. She is the Patroness of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe. The philosopher Octavio Paz once wrote that she and the National Lottery are the only things that Mexicans …
To round up our look at lost mines in the Santa Cruz Valley, let me tell you the story of the Lost Opata Mine. And when I’m through, if you don’t agree with me that this is not an actual tradition from the Colonial Period, I’ll be surprised. Here’s the story:
Let’s interrupt our tales of lost mines and buried treasure to describe a real treasure in the upper Santa Cruz Valley: The 43rd annual Fiesta de Tumacácori, which will take place this year over the weekend of December 7th and 8th.
If you believe the stories, Tumacacori Mission was a hotbed of successful mining during the Colonial period. There’s the Tumacacori Mine, the Pimeria Alta Mine, the Alto Mine, the Mine of the Bats, the Mine with the Iron Door, the Ópata Mine (of which more in a later blog), and the Virgin of…
If our part of the world ever gets paved over, it won’t be with asphalt, but with stories. Stories can stick to the roughest terrain, seldom need maintenance, and can breed other stories.
The chupacabras at work, boasting of his Puerto Rican origins. I bought this Tshirt in the late 1990s, at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, at the height of the Chupacabras craze.
A glance at the illustration above might suggest two things: The chupacabras (“goat sucker”) is somehow connected to Puerto Rico, and this mysterious blood-sucking beast has moved from folklore to pop culture. Both guesses would be right.
Even for a non-existent animal, the carabunco (sometimes written “carabunclo”) is remarkably shy and shadowy. It seems to be a nocturnal bird or small lizard-like creature whose major physical characteristic is a bright light in the middle of its forehead. It has most often been seen in Sono…
The first known reference to the onza is in a wonderful book written in 1795 by an ex-Jesuit missionary named Ignatz Pfefferkorn. Published in 1949 as Sonora: A Description of the Province and reprinted by the University of Arizona Press, it’s a great starting place for learning about our region.
The next few blogs will deal with some of the mythical animals said to inhabit our region: not imaginary critters like the sand trout, but creatures “unknown to science” in whose existence some folks firmly believe.
Yesterday, Nov. 7, was Mexico’s National Day of the Railroader. There’s a story behind this fact, and it touches our region deeply. It’s a story of heroism and self-sacrifice. It’s the story of Jesús García, el héroe de Nacozari.
These flowers in Panteón Rosario are made of aluminum scraps and bottle caps.
A corner of Panteon National, showing All Souls' Day decorations. November, 1984.
Color for the dead; the transformation is complete.
A restrained use of marigolds. Note the initials. November, 1984.
A booth selling coronas and crosses of plastic flowers near Pantron Rosario. Note the consistent style of the offerings.
...and yet more marigolds. November, 1984.
More marigolds. November, 1984.
It is Nov. 1, the day before All Souls Day. For a week, harvesters have been working in the fields near Magdalena, Sonora, picking vast quantities of marigolds – cempazúchiles, the flower of the dead in Aztec Mexico. These arrive in truckloads to be sold in Nogales, outside of the cemeteries.
The central cross is made of soda-straw daisies, while the corona is of glitter-edged paper flowers. November, 1984.
Fields of marigolds near Magdalena, Sonora.
Entrance to Panteón Nacional, Nogales, Sonora, Nov. 1, 1984.
One of the two most common regional forms of pan de muerto, Nogales, Sonora, November, 1984. The raised objects represent bones.
November 2 is All Souls’ Day in the Catholic Church — the day set aside for remembrance of the dead. In Mexico it is “el día de los muertos,” or the Day of the Dead.
There’s another side to visiting cemeteries — many of my Mexicano friends believe very strongly that they don’t belong to us, but rather to the dead who are buried there.
Panteón Rosario in Nogales, Sonora, where the ghostly procession came from.
For this blog, I’ll be visiting our rural cemeteries – graveyards without lawns and caretakers, in which the families of the dead are responsible for the decoration and maintenance of the graves. I’ll be looking specifically at home-made grave markers.
Mining claim grave marker, Arivaca, Arizona
Cross and fence of horse shoes, private ranch cemetery near Tucson
Pipe cross with doorknob finials, Harshaw-Duraznos, Arizona.
Take a drive through the semi-rural fringes of Tucson — beyond the housing developments, beyond the realm of neighborhood restrictions. Drive slowly, looking for details where the property lines meet the street. Pretty soon you’ll see them: home-made mailbox holders, gate decorations, even f…
San Ramon in his new capilla, Nogales, Sonora. September, 1997
San Ramón chapel, 9/30/71. City bus drivers used the mesquite grove in the background as a turn-around and resting area.
New San Ramon chapel in maquiladora wall, Sept., 1997
Interior of old San Ramon chapel south of Nogales, Sonora, 9/30/71
Interior of new chapel, showing empty central niche, September 1997
A while back I told a story about how San Francisco acted in his own interest so as to remain in Magdalena. Here’s a story about another saint and another chapel.
Mail box support, May 2012
Gate with cut-out dog, May, 2013
Horse shoe saguaro and address sign, May, 2012
Sunday at Tucson Meet Yourself is usually a little less crowded than Saturday, but with all of the same things going on — four stages, Cultural Kitchen, Folk Arts, Low Riders, and food booths.
Saturday’s program at Tucson Meet Yourself lasts from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 12, and includes the usual bewildering range of choices. The Folk Arts areas in the Courthouse Square and on Church Street will by active all day. Tohono O’odham artists will occupy the east side of Church St., and…
Tucson Meet Yourself is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 11-13. Festival hours for Friday and Saturday are 11 a.m. 'til 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. 'til 5:30 p.m. It’s held downtown in and around El Presidio Park. Admission is free.
Magdalena, Sonora, is about sixty miles south of Nogales, on Highway 15. Just now that stretch of road should be occupied by hundreds of pedestrians, all walking south on the annual pilgrimage to Magdalena.
They have been described as “butterflies with transmissions.” Their aesthetic is best stated as “low and slow, mean and clean.” What are they? Low rider cars.
Tucson has been home to folks from Asia since the late 19th century. Chinese men came as workers on the railroad, and stayed to become successful truck farmers along the Santa Cruz. The farming led inevitably to creating outlets for the produce, and the neighborhood Chinese grocery stores wh…
Monday, September 16, is Mexico’s Independence Day. On that day in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bell in his parish of Dolores (now called Dolores Hidalgo) and gave an inflammatory speech to the assembled throng.
Although the Yaqui homeland is in Sonora, along the banks of the Rio Yaqui, there has been a Yaqui presence in what is now Southern Arizona for several hundred years, and the Yaquis are federally recognized as an Native American tribe.
The name means “Desert People,” which is what they have always called themselves. Until 1986, they went by the name of “Papagos,” an outsider’s label meaning “bean eaters.” By whatever name one calls them, they are the people who have been on this desert land the longest.
Most of my blogs between now and October 11 will at least mention a festival called Tucson Meet Yourself. Here’s why: