The Lost Cathedral
03 March 2015
January 26, 2015
As if we hadn't gone down far enough into the rabbit hole, we now were on another dirt road going over hills and around bends another eight kilometers until we reached the tiny village (population 100) where The Lost Cathedral stands.
It was actually quite pretty as we continued along the river. We passed more Tarahumara Indian homes scattered throughout the hills and once in awhile, we would see a Tarahumara family walking. We finally saw a man dressed in the traditional dress of loincloth.
We saw one family working on a hill and as we passed by, thought to stop. Ed climbed the hill and gave the man a bag of food. (Each couple had purchased a bag of basic food supplies prepared by our hotel before leaving Creel. Jay and I had given ours to the one and only Tarahumara family we saw in Batopilas earlier in the day.) The man seemed uncertain as his wife and child looked on, but then took the food. With that, he went back to work and Ed climbed down and back into our car. It was a simple gesture that was meaningful to all.
Amongst this old world village of Tarahumara Indians, cows and horses, were satellite dishes and cars. A mix of old and new that didn't quite connect.
We pulled over to allow two vehicles to pass. Hanging on were young men armed with shotguns and drinking beer. One “soldier” drained his beer and tossed it into the canyon while laughing and hollering as the trucks sped by. If their constant presence is meant to intimidate, it does.
“Cesar,” I ask. “These small towns, all the way down here, how do they make their money? How do they earn a living?”
Cesar sighs. “Marijuana. I cannot lie. I am a Christian.” But what he omits to say (and I hear later) is there are poppies being grown in this area too. Suddenly I understand the necessity for the heavy gun power. And I read in a Newsweek article that drug lords are coercing the Tarahumara to be their mules and run their drugs across the border. It is all starting to make sense. I think this might be the reason we see so few Indians and more militia.
Two worlds colliding; one clearly destroying (albeit slowly) the other.
The cathedral, itself, was built by the Jesuits in the 1600s but never completed. What must have once been a majestic presence was now a strange sight here in the middle of nowhere.
Cesar went to the back of the church to a small home where a little girl of a about ten years came out with a key. She opened the door to the cathedral and opened her hand for a donation. We walked through and entered yet another scene where two worlds collide. The building holds the history and ghosts of an unfinished promise; an incomplete floor, an unpainted wall. But there on the mantle were plastic flowers, a creche, and leftover decorations from the Christmas season just past. So, despite the fact that it was rundown and incomplete, it looked as if there still is a vital community present.
Back outside we saw another lone Tarahumara family walking. Mary presented them with the last of our food packages and they shyly accepted and continued on.
With not much else to see in this small village, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon siesta.