27-December-1992 7:30 PM
We’re camping in an open field just next to a tiny village. Actually it’s a ranch. I must say the peoples here are extremely friendly. Lecho, a boy of maybe 16 years came by earlier today to say hello. He is from the town of Acuncion and is up here on vacation with family. Nice, friendly guy. Likes to play baseball. His team back home came in second in a field of 9. He’s due to travel back home in about 3 days. I was annoyed by my lack of understanding of the Spanish language. I was able to follow parts of the conversation but was unable to participate. Any questions or comments required Bibi as a translator. That must be fixed.
Then just now, a couple stopped by to visit and chat for a while. The guy could trace his ancestors here in this ranch to the 1700’s. That’s amazing. These are a simple people, very pleasant. I found myself enjoying their company. Just as I had Lecho’s.
I brought 25 pounds of rice and another 25 pounds of beans on the trip. They were originally going to be given to a mission in El Rosario. But after meeting these people, it will be left here. Talking with the others, we decided to leave whatever extra foods we have with us. We’ll keep enough to get home, but the rest stays with these peoples.
The journey up here was most enjoyable. Leaving the hotel in San Ignastio, we took the main highway north for about 40 kilometers. A right turn off the highway onto a one lane dirt road leads into the Siera San Fransisco.
Along the trail, we climbed about 1,000 meters. The road traversed thru some of the most spectacular canyons I’ve ever seen. The initial set of switchbacks in the canyon walls lead us to a position where we can look back down on the desert floor we just left. It is an immense open space littered with small mountains dotting the space. The sky is cloudy, but off in the distance can be seen speckles of sunlight trying to get through to the desert floor. A truly spectacular sight. Just after that, my tire went flat.
While waiting for the tire to inflate, we wandered through the surrounding landscape. It contained a wondrous variety of cacti: from huge barrel cactus to small chollos. It was actually a nice place to have to wait. Calm and peaceful. Even with the raindrops.
Traveling further brought us through amazing canyons. These, unlike ones found in southern Utah/Northern Arizona, were covered with foillege. It seemed to be formed in tier structures along the canyon walls. Piering across the open spaces was like looking at a groomed miniature garden. Only this was larger than life. Walls which were hundreds of meters high and canyons equally wide across. Impressive.
The major reason for traveling here is to see the pictographs. Primitive cave wall art dating back 2500 to 4000 years. The caves are considered to be a national treasure and
any persons wishing to see must hire a guide. The guides can be found here, in Rancho San Fransisco.
On out arrival, Bibi spoke with some locals to gain more information. We discovered that most of the sites would require a three day trip. That is time which we do not have. We’re to be back in the states the day after tomorrow. However, a guide could show us some simple pictographs which were just down the road. Only 3,000 pesos each. Cool! Let’s go.
Our guide is an elderly gentleman of 76 years. Nice friendly man. A little hard of hearing and a touch aromatic. He rode with me to the trail head.
We parked on the road side and walked up a short hill to a locked fence. They mean to keep people out without a guide. And as it turns out everyone in the village is a guide.
The paintings were a link between time. It is supposed that shaman drew the art during religious rituals. There were pictures of men, animals like cows, deer and birds. There were also combinations, body of a man with the head of a bird.
All were black or red with the exception of one man which was both. That might symbolize the transformation of man to animal or that man has that ability within him. That is one of the beliefs shamanism held, that to commune better with god, a shaman can transform himself into an animal. They thought that animals were closer to god.
Sitting among the paintings seemed to be like reading a letter from the past. Only we don’t know the language and can therefore only guess what was meant.
Back at the village, we drop off Carlos and strike up a camp site. The ground is fairly hard and filled with rocks. I set up my tent without pegs and use some rocks to hold out the sides.
We eat a simple meal of bean and cheese burritos. I do the dishes, for Mario cooked again. He enjoys doing it and does it well. I do dishes or help whenever possible, but sometimes I think that it is not enough.
It started drizzling again just after dinner. I hope it doesn’t pour. The jeep is covered with my other tarp. It should stay dry.
There is a wind howling through the canyons which makes me wish that I’d been able to stake out the tent every time it blows past, I wonder if the tent will roll or collapse. This should be an interesting night.