Álamos 1984

Confluences and circumstances influence who we are and where we go.

All the elderly women dressed in white with their stories have left the beach.

I first visited Álamos, Sonora, Mexico in 1984. We all have stories about how we came to discover a place that is special to ourselves. My personal Álamos story began when a UCSD art major girl friend, Lisa, asked me to accompany her to a performance art 
project dress rehearsal on a La Jolla, California beach. This was the conclusion to a year long (1983-1984) effort by 
Suzanne Lacy and Sharon Allen: Whisper, the Waves, the Wind

On site there was one local TV crew and Suzanne Lacy, white tables and a large group of women all dressed in white. Suzanne was orchestrating and protecting the unfolding events. There was also a freelancer in a collared blue t-shirt and a big video camera who quickly introduced himself as Kit Nuzum. He was filming for Channel 38, a Del Mar, CA public access station. We struck-up a quick friendship. Several months later he invited me to join him and his girlfriend in his Chevy Nova on a car ride to a town in México that he told he knew I would like. And Kit was correct. I did, and do, like Álamos, Sonora, México. Gracias amigo.

Álamos, Sonora, México the way it was on Anders’ first visit.

Álamos, Sonora, Mexico in 1984, Spring time, as seen by Anders Tomlinson via black and white film. Music is “A New Dawn” by the “Dig Brothers” under the musical direction of Denver Clay. Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. It is warm and breezy. The sky is blue. If you stare at a cloud long enough it will disappear.

Below are several photos from the 1984 Álamos expedition. With the photos are a look at what the world was like back then in the United States and around the world.

alamos sonora mexico. 1984. photo by anders tomlinson.

Álamos is at the end of paved road.

•  The Cosby show premiers.
•  Three hundred slain as Indian Army occupies Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
•  Indira Gandhi is assassinated.
• Toxic gas leaks from Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killing 2,000 and injuring 150,000.

The Mercado in the Alameda is under construction.

• Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman Vice President running mate.
• President Reagan re-elected in landslide with 59% of vote.
•  Reagan ends U.S. role in Beirut by relieving Sixth Fleet from peacekeeping force.
• Congress cuts off aid to Nicaragua, illegal guns sales start to fund the contras.

Turning a corner: embracing the present by making music.

Here are examples of 1984 music that was in fashion: Phil Collins, Alison Moyet,
Billy Joel, Tina Turner with ” What’s Love got to do with it,” David Bowie
Wham! with ” Wake Me up Before You Go, ” Billy Ocean, UB40, Cars,
Stevie Wonder with ” I Just Called to say I love You, ” Kenny Rogers,
Bruce Springsteen, Bananarama, Duran Duran with ” The Reflex, ” Ultravox.

Centro Álamos has several one way streets for horses, bikes, trucks, and cars.

• Stonewashed jeans are introduced.
• The first megabit chip is made at Bell Labs.
• Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, US. The Soviets boycott.
• Mary Lou Retton wins two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

Two powers, side by side, working together

• Old nude photos of Vanessa Williams, first African American Miss America, forced her
to give up her crown.
• The AIDS virus is discovered.
• On January 28, Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the shooting of Pepsi commercial.
• The first infomercials appear on TV due to de-regulation by the FCC.

A quiet afternoon in the Alameda.

• The first all rap radio format is introduced at LA’s KDAY.
• Run-D.M.C. are the first ever rap group to have an album certified gold.
• The term cyberspace is coined by William Gibson in his novel “Neuromancer”.
• Bob Geldof and Band Aid release “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

Bishop Reyes Cathedral seen from the old miners’ hotel.

• In 1984 Reagan makes famous joke: “My fellow Americans, I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” He supposedly didn’t know the mic was on.
• Apple Computer releases the Macintosh personal computer. It has 128K of RAM, a 7,83MHz processor, no hard disk, and the cost is US.$2495.00.
• Calling themselves the PMRC (Parents’ Music Resource Coalition), concerned parents, including Tipper Gore, wife of then-Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker, Georgie Packwood, wife of Oregon Senator Robert Packwood, and Nancy Thurmond, wife of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, construct a campaign designed to ‘educate’ parents about certain alarming new trends in rock music.

Mt. Cacharamba is seen two through windows of an adobe ruin.

• 1 gallon of gas $1.10.
• Dodge RAM 50 Truck $8,995.00.
• Chrysler New Yorker $13,045.
• Chevrolet Corvette $23,392.

Calle Comercio is a quiet street in Centro Álamos.

• Yearly Inflation Rate USA4.3 %.
• Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average is 1211.
• Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 10.75%.
• Recession continues to be a problem in the US and 70 US Banks fail in just one year.

Here one can visit with loved ones and take in the big sky overhead.

• Leader of the Soviet Union, Andropov dies at 69; Konstantin U. Chernenko,
is named as his replacement.
• First robot related death in the US.  A worker in Jackson Michigan is accidentally
crushed by an industrial robot.
• United Kingdom agrees handover of Hong Kong to China.
• Explosions at the PEMEX petroleum storage facility in Mexico City kill about 500 people.

There is the only gas station in town.

• Desmond Tutu wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
• Bell Telephone System broken up.
• France gets first deliveries of Soviet natural gas.
• Syria frees captured U.S. Navy pilot, Lieut. Robert C. Goodman, Jr.

Alone in thoughts surrounded by family and history.

• Average Cost of U.S. new house $86,730.
• Median Price Of and U.S. Existing Home $72,400.
• Average U.S. Income per year $21,600.
• Average U.S. Monthly Rent $350.

Young entrepreneurs sell cool ice cream on a warm Spring afternoon.

• The big films of 1984 were Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,
Gremlins, Beverly Hills Cop, Terms of Endearment, The Karate Kid,
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Police Academy, Romancing the Stone,
Splash, The Terminator, Amadeus, The Killing Fields, A Passage To India.
A movie ticket on average costs $2.50.

The village of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico lives on another day.

• A Man shoots 20 dead and wounds 16 in McDonalds Restaurant in San Ysidro California
• Colonel Joe Kittinger becomes the first person to complete a solo transatlantic flight
in a helium balloon
• The first ever flight in space by humans un-tethered using jet back packs takes place
Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart make the first untethered space walk.

There is much we can learn from the Álamos logo on a work truck’s door.

• John DeLorean is acquitted of all eight charges of possessing and distributing cocaine.
• Jeopardy! begins its syndicated version.
• U.S. performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site.
• The world-renowned, critically acclaimed Canadian entertainment company,
Cirque du Soleil is founded.

Salvation and shade can be found at Bishop Reyes Cathedral.

• Sony and Philips introduce the first commercial CD Players.
• Sony makes the first 3 1/2″ computer disk.
• Genetic fingerprinting or DNA profiling was developed and is now in wide by Forensic scientists when obtaining evidence in a crime.

Two good friends are walking from here to there arm in arm.

• Miguel de la Madrid is President of México.
• U.S. and Vatican exchange diplomats after 116-year hiatus.
• Widespread Famine in Ethiopia after political conflict with charities believing as many
as 10 million people are facing starvation.
• Planet Earth’s human population in 1984 was 4.769 billion.

Anders’ shadow was here and enjoying every moment.

Alamos, Sonora, Mexcio has made a deep impact on Anders Tomlinson. As a youth
in Southern California he would stand on the El Camino Real, the King’s Highway,
and look north and south. His imagination took over. Where would this road,
in either direction, take him?

Anders enjoys a warm summer night in the Plaza after a long day shooting.
photo-Antonio Figueroa

He would eventually travel north on El Camino Real to San Francisco, California.
Later, Kit Nuzum, who had family in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, invited Anders to come along
for a spring time visit. The journey was magical, traveling across the
Sonoran Desert under a warm star filled sky while listening to an all-night radio
broadcast of Jethro Tull. Arriving in Alamos during predawn hours was
arriving in another land… another era… another spirit.

The lights of Alamos from the Mirador overlook. Every night is a holiday.


For more information visit About Good Morning Álamos, Sonora Mexico

Super-eight Springtime 1984 in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico

It is the spring of 1984. Anders Tomlinson and Kit Nuzum arrive in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico to begin shooting super-eight film footage with single-frame and additional short bursts and several time-lapse sequences. They used Kodachrome asa 40 film stock with a Minolta news camera.

©2017 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Atop Sierra de Álamos

Late spring as seen by high up both sides of the Álamos Valley…

Looking at Alamos, Sonora, Mexico from the north.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

It was an effort to get this shot. But it was the right season to do it.

I always looked north from Plaza de las Armas at two peaks that reminded me of camel humps. I knew they would provide a wonderful vantage point of Álamos and surroundings. Chon, my guide, and I started up a trail early on an overcast morning. Two others, possibly miners, with a supplies burdened burro, were ahead of us. High up, they took a fork in the trail to the east and we continued climbing to the west.

alamos, sonora, mexico seen from the north, mirador and plaza de las armas are clearly seen, photo by anders tomlinson . 1995.

In late spring, the summer jungle is bendable bare branches.

I was hoping the sun would break through. It didn’t. We reached the top under cool cloud cover. I would later learn this was a blessing. I began to film. We now go back in time to this moment contemplating the big picture. Timeless.

sierra de alamos, towering above alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.  1995

Sierra de Álamos towers over the village wiping sleep from its eyes.


To the immediate south of Álamos is the Sierra de Álamos mountain island. It runs east-west, perpendicular to the coast and the Sierra Madres. It has always taken me and my guides several hours to reach the top from the Plaza de las Armas.
The most comfortable time to start is the cool pre-dawn hours.

View from Gringo Point, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Good morning Alamos from Gringo Point in the Sierra de Alamos.

A week later, Chon and I spent two days and a night atop Sierra Álamos. Gringo Point is a rock outcropping that looks down directly on Álamos. Truly a bird’s eye view. Again, overcast persisted. But what can one do but do what one does?

alamos, sonora, mexico seen fro sierra de alamos in the spring of 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson.

One can almost hear a 1,000 silver mule train leaving Álamos south.

Chon created a fire in the high altitude morning chill, a bed of embers no wider than his palm with a flame no longer than his thumb, and brewed me a cup of tea. I unpacked three bags of camera equipment and began to film. We did not talk. Below, a church bell persistently called for morning mass. And we could hear the past that becomes today and will be tomorrow. I have never forgotten that civilized cup of tea.

pines forest at the top of sierra de alamos overlookiung alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.  1995.

Pine trees rustle in the wind and parrot calls echo off stone canyon walls.


Pine aromas in a dry tropical rain forest, with tea in hand, is truly a top-of-the-world experience. I felt safe with Chon guiding the way. it is always best to travel with a guide so you don’t go where someone doesn’t want you to go. Recently, life had been hard on Chon and these moments above and beyond the village were good for his spirit. And I was thankful for the opportunity to capture scenes from the highest vantage point.

Chon in the red hat behind Kit Nuzum

Chon in the red hat behind Kit Nuzum


Chon was Kit’s right-hand man during much of Pedregral’s early construction in the shade
of the giant fig tree. Chon took pride in doing a job well and enjoyed a good joke and a cold beer.

Sharing A Moment With Chon

We come and go, in the short term, like the birds and in the long term as do mountains.
This video scene celebrates Chon who worked on many projects for the Nuzums including
the strawbale casa on El Pedregal in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Chon   portrait by Kit Nuzum, 2015.

Chon portrait by Kit Nuzum, 2015.


Another day, another smile amongst old friends in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Time passes,
every moment history, every scene a moment. We are all part of the river of life.

Antonio Figueroa and Mountain , Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A summer return to the northern rock outcroppings.

One of 1996’s summer-photo-expedition goals was to return to the camel humped rocks. Local photographer Antonio Figueroa joined me on an effort to repeat the spring shoot. We knew summer heat and humidity would challenge us. We set off early in the morning. When we left the trail at the base of twin peaks we ran into a dense jungle of tangled vines, limbs, overgrown brush, stickers… We couldn’t get to the top. The air became hotter, oppressive, as the sun climbed into a watery sky. We had to return without our photos. Talk about disappointment, but it was what it was. And it would become worse. On the way down, Antonio ran head first into a hornet hive. If you could see Antonio’s swollen face in the photo on the trail you would realized his pain. As soon as we reached Alamos he went to the hospital for treatment. A tough day was had by all, but none tougher than Antonio’s attempt to capture the big picture. Jungle one – photographers zip.

View from Above

Mt. Alamos is some 6,500 feet above sea level. It towers 5,000 feet above the town of Álamos. It is another world, wild parrots, dry tropical forest, granite and… Up and down is a day’s effort, it is well worth it. To reach the top it is recommended to start hiking early while it is still dark and cool.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos Yesterday – Today

now and then photos of alamos sonora mexico

This is a new section that compares scenes from 2014 to those from 1983 to 1996.
We can see that the trees have grown, the church has painted domes, and new homes can be seen in the background. New and old – past and present, together, is the story
of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

The Alameda Gas Station Now

2014 - Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez. alamos sonora mexico.

2014 – Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez

The Alameda Gas Station Then

1995 - Looking northwest from Guadalope Hill. Photo: Anders Tomlinson. alamos sonora mexico

1995 – Looking northwest from Guadalope Hill. Photo: Anders Tomlinson.

now and then spacer

The Plaza Now

2014, looking west from El Mirador at Plaza, alamos sonora mexico. photo by Humberto Enríquez

2014 – looking west from El Mirador. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

The Plaza Then

1993 Looking west from El Mirador at the church and plaza in alamos, sonora, mexico

1993 – looking west from El Mirador. Photo: Anders Tomlinson.

The shooting angles are close. But at this distance a few feet here and there will back a big difference along with the type of lens used. One goal of Good Morning Álamos, Sonora, Mexico film project is to replicate scenes that have changed from the same vantage point using the same lens, if possible. Big shout-out to Humberto Enríquez our man of the moment in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Looking at these photos one can also see the difference between 35 mm slide and digital images. But that is another story.

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©2014 Alamos-Sonora-Mexico.com and the respective photographers, all rights reserved.

Álamos Update: 6-7-15

an old mill site just a block from Casa de los Santos, alamos, sonora, mexico.  Horses take care of the mowing.  The photo was taken from the city street with the graceful 'Marrs (Candy family) mansion' in back of the photographer.  It was restored by them in the 50's, built by an 18th century silver baron and ironically, now owned again by the owner of the huge new silver mine which produces more than 100 million annually.   They are from B.C., Canada. photo by jim swickard.  

Just another old world day in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

The sounds of countryside and village blend into a leisurely symphony
The photo is of an old mill site just a block from the Hacienda. Horses take care of the mowing. The photo was taken from the city street with the graceful ‘Marrs (Candy family) mansion’ in back of the photographer. It was restored by them in the 50’s, built by an 18th century silver baron and ironically, now owned again by the owner of the huge new silver mine which produces more than 100 million dollars in silver annually. They are from B.C., Canada. Photo, possibly, by unknown Casa de los Santos guest.

casa de los santos, alamos, sonora mexico. The largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill's 'Mill'.  It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane.  The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner's of record.

Listen closely and one may hear the past come alive in their imaginations.

If you are in the moment this could be the center of the universe
This is the largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill’s ‘Mill’. It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane. The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner’s of record. Photo by local photographer Tomas Escalante.

Mt. Cacharamba (Mayo for 'hole in the ear' due to a hole in one part of the flat topped mountain).  All of the original Spanish mines are below it and slightly to the left.  Coronado was within 10 miles of it in about 1540, however it was not found until about 150 years later. photo by Jim Swickard, Casa de los Santos, Alamos, sonora, mexico

A landmark of another era and today and tomorrow.

Miners and merchants came from around the world in search of silver
I took this photo from my T206H airplane a few years ago and it’s a view of Mt. Cacharamba (Mayo for ‘hole in the ear’ due to a hole in one part of the flat topped mountain). All of the original Spanish mines are below it and slightly to the left. Coronado was within 10 miles of it in about 1540, however it was not found until about 150 years later. It’s visible from a hill top a block from the Hacienda. Photo by Jim Swickard.

Macohayui mission,  circa 1610, outside of alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by jim swickard.

Macoyahui mission, early 1600’s, built by Mayo Indians with master mason’s guidance.

Off the beaten path
I ventured up to the Macohayui mission two weeks ago for the first time.  I have flown over it more than a dozen times.  Visiting the mission was a real treat and visiting with a man gathering firewood added to the experience.  There’s a home very near the mission which impressed me greatly and I should have taken pictures.  According to the man it dates to the missions beginning which makes the home over 400 years. It’s in good condition, considering, however won’t be for long since the owner died last year and no subsequent generation to live there.  I plan to return.

As the crow flies the mission is only about 15 miles from Álamos.  Due to its location on the west bank of the Mayo River one has to drive about 40 miles to get to it. If the river is at its lowest of the year one can get there nearly direct but there are are dozens of turns on a goat trail and it’s really necessary to make one trip from the north to know where its located. Photo by Jim Swickard

Summer 2015 Casa de los Santos Update

The hurricane is missing us by more than two hundred miles, however we are hoping for some rain. It’s the pre-monsoon season here and a little overcast today which I prefer for walking Cholula our ‘Puggle’. Election day in Mexico, with the required ‘dry’ weekend, so the village is uncannily quiet, however they will make up for it next weekend. ( The PRI party won both the gubanatorial seat and locally the same. It’s beautiful here today since we had our first monsoonal rain last night, 6-7-15.  With any luck more rain this evening. )

The Hacienda goes back into a construction mode in July with some remodeling work on the sugar mill property to create a true, and long awaited, gift shop adjacent to the Cafe Agave. A new Spa will be ready to open in the Fall and the present spa. We hope to have three totally new Master Suites for next season, plus two inner connecting Hacienda Guest Rooms for families. Our total room and suite count will be 32 for next season. We will have some exciting news this summer about some international recognition for Hacienda de los Santos… Jim Swickard

To see it as it is today visit Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa.

To see the Hacienda in 1993

Álamos residents share Álamos Today in words and photos.

Bishop Reyes Cathedral

Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral takes up the entire southern side of the Plaza de las Armas in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Its three tiered belfry towers above town and touches low passing clouds. Along with multiple daily services the church is also a religious classroom. Religion speaks of yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. It speaks of better days and better places. Religious followers are asked to endure and conceptually, eventually, benefit from their days of survival and struggle on this small planet.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2015 Jim Swickard, Casa de los Santos and Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Álamos Palacio

06… Friends, and morning sun, converge outside the Palacio Municipal…

The Federal, State and Municipal government offices are all here.

This busy building has a large open courtyard and stage that are used for public political
and cultural events. Theater presentations, dances and concerts are common.
The Palacio was built of brick and stone around 1899 in the style of medieval Spanish
fortresses. A semicircular arch is a central axis gateway opening into a large
courtyard surrounded by offices on three sides.

The opposition party leader walks to his seat on stage during the State of the City address.

Dr. M. Alfonso Valenzuela Salido addresses a half full Palacio with what his administration
has done, is doing and plans to do. Meanwhile, around town people go about their business
making Álamos what Álamos is. Here is a list of Presidentes from 1937 to the present:

2012-2015… Ing. José Benjamín Anaya Rosas
2009-2012… Dr. Joaquín Navarro Quijada
2006-2009… Lic. Ruth Acuña Rascón
2003-2006… Ing. David Corral Valenzuela
2000-2003… Prof. José de Jesús Carballo Mendívil
1997-2000…
Dr. Humberto Arana Murillo
1994-1997… Dr. Alfonso Valenzuela Salido
1991-1994… Dr. Baldomero Corral Valenzuela
1988-1991… Prof. Enrique Ibarra Álvarez 
1985-1988… Sr. Manuel Ruiz Arzaga
1982-1985… Sr. Humberto Franco Terán
1979-1982… Prof. Darío Villarreal Valenzuela
1976-1979… Prof. José Jesús Gil Vega
1973-1976… Sr. José Reyes Amarillas
1970-1973… Sr. Rosendo Venegas Reyes
1967-1970… Sr. Baldomero Corral Álvarez
1964-1967… Sr. Diódoro Valenzuela Piña
1961-1964… Sr. Lauro Franco Franco
1958-1961… Sr. Marcelino Valenzuela Bustillos
1955-1958… Sr. Maximiliano Couvillier Atondo
1952-1955… Sr. Raymundo M. Robles
1949-1952… Sr. Martín B. Salido
1946-1949… Sr. Marcelino Valenzuela
1943-1946… Sr. Juan de Dios Urrea
1941-1943… Sr. Leopoldo Acosta
1939-1941… Sr. Carlos G. García
1937-1939… Sr. José María Palomares

president addresses public in the palacio, alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

El Presidente presents his state of Álamos speech.

Dr. Joaquin Navarro Quijada is the man walking across the stage. He lost a bitterly contested election in 1994 with Dr. M. Alfonso Valenzuela Salido. The Palacio was shut down for weeks by protesters. Eventually, Joaquin was given his own office in the Palacio and municipal life went on as normal. In 2009 he was elected Presidente Muncipal. Perseverance is a virtue.
To see more of what the local government is doing visit Municipio de Alamos, Sonora

palacio municipal of alamos, sonora, mexico is decked out in bunting celebrating independance day.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Patriotic bunting adorns the Palacio for Independence day celebrations.

September 16 is Mexico’s Day of Independence. Government officials will speak from the Palacio’s balcony at night as fireworks go off around town in celebration. The long day begins with a parade through Centro Álamos that ends with a large public gathering in the Plaza. The bunting’s green symbolizes Independence, the white symbolizes religion and the red symbolizes union.
To see more visit Day of Independence Parade

A Magical moment in a Magical Pueblo.  Photo:Joel Gasteum

A magical moment in a Pueblo Magical. photo-Joel Gastélum

The photo above is from the closing ceremony at the Palacio.  The theme of the festival was “100 years of Maria Felix” and Miguel Castillo is singing “Maria Bonita” with Maria Felix’s eyes projected onto the screen behind him.  After he finished singing we played the movie “Yerba Mala” which was filmed in Alamos two years ago.  There were 700 seats filled in the Palacio for the closing ceremony.

palacio, alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Keeping the Palacio clean is a job for many.

People come and go throughout the day conducting business and dealing with all issues a local government faces. And the Palacio is a community center for events throughout the year. This is the official Álamos heartbeat that is kept alive by all people that are Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

The prime venue for the Álamos Film Festival is the Palacio.

In the hearts of many, Alamos is the center of the universe.
Independence day starts early in the morning with a municipal parade through the town’s colonial center. Alamos school kids, the first high school in the Californias started here, and the entire city government take part. In 2010 the students added their own uniformed marching band to the parade. From children to government, Alamos continues.

Alamos shares a strong maternal bond, steeped in history, with all the Southwest.
Juan Batista de Anza departed Alamos in September 1775 with silver, and local families, to settle “Monterey and the Californias”, including San francisco, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Spring and Summer

11… A tale of two seasons, a tale of two spirits…

Late spring 1997, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The end of Spring seems like the end of the year.

In the dog days of Spring smoke from burning farm fields on the coast and Navajoa is blown up into the foothills of Alamos. Warm heavy air holds down a layer of dust that covers anything that doesn’t move. It is what it is, life goes on as another yearly cycle completes its course.

Spring time in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

And then the land comes alive with color and sounds of rejuvenation.

Everything glistens with a sheen of cleanliness. Spirit returns to the laugh and smile of the Alamos. Color explodes in what not long ago was the plainest of places. Behold a lush cornucopia of jungle greens accented with vibrant wildflower rainbows. Overhead, ever-changing skies take on moments of absolute magnificence. One is embraced by healthy glowing faces proud of their crops coming up around them. Lluvia! In the jubilant glory of rain’s fulfilled expectation, yes!, there’s more life to come. Lluvia!

Two seasons from Tecolote Hill

view of alamos, sonora, mexico to the east from tecolote hill, spring, 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson

It is mid-Spring, there is still a freshness to the air


The hills are turning a sullen brown. The gradual metamorphosis from vivacious green to parched brown sneaks up on the casual observer. It is seen best when looking at the hills. Many of the irrigated gardens in town stay green and colorful. But the hills…

view from Tecolete hill, Alamos, Sopnora, mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

And here we are. It is always good to climb in the cool of the morning.


The air is aromatic – a taste of menthol. Birds are singing. The hills are alive with color.
There is water in mountain gullies. Growth is everywhere. It is summer. Lluvia!

End of Spring

Spring time, looking west from a dry distant hill at Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Its late Spring looking west at Alamos from the ranch’s high ground.


Where there is water there is green. This photo was taken on an Easter Sunday. Alamos, with Cacharamba behind it, is to the west.

late spring, looking west towards alamos, sonora, mexico.  easter sunday, 1996. photo by anders tomlinson

Where the desert meets the dry tropical forest.


When the summer rains come the dry arroyo could be at flood stage. On this easter Sunday one can only imagine rain. The dryness is everywhere.

alamos, sonora, mexico seen from red cross hill, piedra hola.  summer 1996.  photo by anders tomlinson

Summer 1996. The rains have come.


The hills are alive with the sound of music and color. Everything is overgrown. Where there were paths through the hills in the spring is now dense entanglement. One needs to be watching where they are go if they can go at all.

Two Spring Views from atop Sierra de Álamos

view of alamos, sonora, mexico from atop sireea de alamos in the spring. photo by anders tomlinson.

Gringo Point is to the upper right with Alamos below.

It is becoming warm despite the altitude. Álamos from here appears to nestled in the hills like an egg in a nest. It is a small colonial town surrounded by land that through history man has rarely touched. Here, the wilderness dominates and man exists.

view of the western edge of alamos, sonora, mexico seen fro atop sierra de alamos in the spring, 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson

El Camino Real takes the easy way northward.

Any season, hundreds of years ago, would be difficult to travel on the El Camino Real. But a road, like water, follows the path of least resistance. This view is towards the north-northwest. Over the horizon, hundreds of miles away, is the border and beyond, hundreds of miles, are Los Angeles and San Francisco. From here, at this moment, with morning tea over a small wilderness cooking fire, no bigger than a single flame, everywhere is far, far away.

Every year Summer Returns

View of alamos, sonora, mexico from the foot of mirador looking northwest in the summer.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Yes, it is summer time and the living is easy.

Summer returns every year as does a sunrise does every day. The question on many minds is will the rains return, and when? This scene is after an evening shower that had washed the streets clean and watered every garden.

And the mountains’ night skies explode

Summer is the Alamos season of vibrant color, rains and nights of natural magic and wonder.
Lightening on a warm Alamos summer evening is a show to remember. The romantic Plaza is a wonderful vantage point. Rolling thunder punctuates child’s play and lovers’ embraces.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Galeria de Arte

Upon the wall art becomes windows to somewhere else …

View of Galeria de Arte from the Plaza, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Galeria de Arte was in the building to the left as seen from the plaza.

Beverly Krucek sent me several emails about the gallery she had on the Plaza Las Armas for many years. The following information is complied from her notes. The photo above was taken during the summer of 1996. Beverly was also a leading member of the Alamos Heritage-History Association, AHA, that meets at the Agave Cafe in the Hacienda de los Santos once a month in the summer and every Thursday morning during the rest of the year.

Galarie de Arte opened on the plaza in 1994 and was run by Bev Krucek for some ten years, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

At times Alamos itself seems a living work of art and history and futures.

Beverly Krucek opened the Galeria de Arte on the Plaza in 1994. On average 25 artists were shown in three rooms, portal and patio. Artists came from all over Mexico, some from Columbia, as well as Tucson, Phoenix, New Mexico and a couple from France. Some 10 year later, Bev decided to trade up to a gallery in an art mall being developed and promoted by the Franks in the Urrea house on Calle Obregon. Unexpected problems arose that stopped the art mall project from going forward. By that time, Bev had turned her rental lease over to B.K. Hamma for her use as book shop, gift shop, and a new art galley leased to Vickie Lockwood. Upon taking a further look at the situation, it appeared to Bev that the tourist trade, which was her main target for sales, had fallen off so she left the gallery scene.

Galarie de Arte opened on the plaza in 1994 and was run by Bev Krucek for some ten years, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Upon these walls, that have seen so much, art speaks of inside and outside.

Beverly wrote about the block that the Galeria was located in,

“The Galleria was on the plaza in the row between the Hotel Alamos and what at one time was the Bank. That strip is now occupied by a games emporium, the Tourist Bureau, (then the Galleria) and a home restoration by the Bours. The strip prior to that, was The Hotel Alamos, The Casino, and I think either a bank or more probably a small residence occupied by the Bours.  The Casino was a club like operation where the men gambled excessively and the women were welcomed on Wednesdays. Some reading offers the information that Alamos was a huge hub of gambling.  Makes sense since most of mining management was an absentee sort of operation there was lots of both time and money.  Cards were big as was cock fighting etc.”

View of plaza from El Mirador.  Location of Galeria de Arte is noted.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

View from Mirador of building where Galeria de Arte was located.

Years ago, when I was in Alamos, Hotel Alamos, also known by many of my friends as the old Miner’s Hotel, was in serious disrepair.

In her emails Beverly addressed the old hotel’s current condition,

“The building part that houses the former Hotel Alamos and to some extent the part that houses the Tourist Bureau is in very bad disrepair and held together in an attractive way by a nice paint job.  Adobe keeps crumbling.  Everyone grumbles about it but no one does anything.  It is owned by Anamaria Alcorn.  INAH in Hermosillo and the local government probably could step in and force the work to be done but who has the money and where does government restoration come in with private ownership?  The end part (corner of Guadalupe Victoria and Comercio) has been well, and I think properly, maintained and restored by the Bours family.”

Casa Nuzum, Calle Comercio 2, from church roof looking east, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Looking down from the church at Casa Nuzum, Calle Comercio 2.

Calle Comerico 2, Casa de Nuzum, recently became an art galley, La Casa del Arte, managed by Tony Estrada and his wife, Lupita. Tony is director of Museo Costumbrista de Sonora, on the Plaza, which features regularly scheduled art exhibitions. Tony is also a gifted sculptor who takes discards and turns them into assembled artistic statements. Beverly commented on La Casa del Arte’s opening night, May 20, 2011,

“Tony and Cammy Nuzum will oversee other areas in the house to be used by artisans for producing their work and selling it from there. It was fun to see Tony’s opening at the Nuzum house where he showed 4 or 5 of the artists I had represented some years ago. It was great to see that they had continued to develop new depths in  their work while still being identifiable in their own style.”

Calle Comercio 2 is across the street from the bank that was next to Galeria de Arte. When I was a guest of Casa Nuzum there were paintings on the walls and art books in the library. I always felt it would be a wonderful gallery space being next to the church and around the corner from the Plaza. Location, location, location… The concept of artists working and showing their work in this historic Casa is profound and hopefully productive. There is a recent history of artisans here, Elizabeth Nuzum hired local women to create her designer clothing line in a wonderful sewing studio in the back pool patio of the house.

Historic footnotes from Beverly that were included in one of the emails,

“There was a Hotel Minero across the Plaza from the Hotel Alamos.  It is the first building on Madero off the Plaza, sort of tucked in at the lower level of the Portales Hotel. It was owned by Palomares (a war hero from the French invasion) and is now called the Hotel Enrique owned by Blanca Quijada Navarro.”

“We still have to add a tiny bit to the Chinese use of the Mexican silver peso…. Alamos did not specifically produce for China… they used the coin that was minted here and identified by A or an underlined A. Kin Rynd who lived there at the time (the 20’s) said it was always referred to as the Mex… much as we would say a buck. It also added balast to the ships returning to China after the deliveries to Northern Mexico.”

Visit one of Bev’s many loves Alamos History Association

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Peeling Paint

12… History is in the detail, humanness is in the design…

Wall texture, peeling paint in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Micro views have as much information as watching a stunning sunset.

This peeling paint is on a west facing wall, built in 1828 at the end of Calle Comercio. Álamos had become the capital of a combined Sinoloa and Sonora – the state of Occidente. The new Governor Jose Maria Gaxiola lived inside this wall. It is a scene repeated throughout Álamos, Sonora, México. In recent times, recent being relative, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page once found sanctuary behind this edifice. Think of the romantic full moons and the sweet smells of the night air. In the distance a young man serenades his girl.

paints peeling on alamos, sonora,, mexico wall. photo by anders tomlinson

Stains of age bleed through layers of paint peeling back time.

Struggles personified: scribed, scratched, torn, eroded, defaced, washed, painted by natural elements and human events. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

an interesting wall with words and dark triangle. alamos sonora mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Many times art comes from taking advantage of opportunity.

Graffiti, like tattoos, has taken on different significants in society. There is mean graffiti, cruel graffiti, criminal graffiti, obnoxious graffiti. And then there are a quiet moments when man etches himself into the wall. these moments come and go as does the days, months, years and centuries.

wall color and texture, peeling paint, alamos sonora mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A calm moment in the relentless march of change for change’s sake.

Soothing pastels worn smooth, shine in the morning sun on an eastern facing wall. There are no images or words but there is feeling – much like minimalism modern art. Look long enough and there is movement.

paint throw onto an alamos, sonora, mexico wall. photo by anders tomlinson

It is all about gesture and action. What do we see? What do we feel?

Speaking of modern art. What was behind these two large action marks? Was it a planned act or an accident? This is a concrete wall – modern in Alamos time. Was a painter cleaning is bucket? Was it a statement from one person about another? These are the questions, and tales, that the walls of Álamos, Sonora, México present to willing imaginations.

wall painting of young couple near airport. alamos sonora mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A young couple on a wall near the airport. Old and new together.

This painting was off the Old Camino Real as it turns to north west past the airport. Today the rod leads to nearby copper mines. It is probably much more traveled. there is little chance that is image remains – it is almost twenty years since the photo was taken.
Maybe the wall no longer exists, or…

wall detail of peeling paint, alamos sonora mexico.

Up close and within the details of passing time.

As one comes closer to the wall, or some would say ruins, one can see the marks take on greater significance as the design by natural elements and human events grow in intensity. There is form in the happenstance. Not all art is beautiful. Not all art is ugly. But all art is art.

This is an interior wall that is facing renovation. alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

This is an interior wall that is facing renovation.

There are moments of discovery, questions, appreciation and realization. This house probably has been in place a couple hundred years. Think of the get-togethers it has witnessed. The joys and sorrows. This wall knows life – good and bad.

old for sale sign, disappearing on an alamos, sonora mexico ruin wall.  photo by anders tomlinson.

The sign of time fades a sign of hope.


In a matter of years this sign has faded. Does this mean the property was sold and there was no more need for a sign so let time to its thing? Or does it indicate there were no buyers and the seller gave up the effort? Either way this wall is texture in a town of textures, Álamos, Sonora, México.

for sale sign on ruin, alamos. sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Advertising helps economies roll and money exchanges hands.

The message is bold, hard to miss and to the point. “This is for sale!” Is it art? Ask Andy Warhol what he thinks. Is it a statement? Certainly. And a marketing campaign begins again just like a sunrise.

Fast paced music video that is more than its parts, much like Álamos itself..
This is an experimental clip that weds close-ups textures shot out a moving car’s window and 120 blended stills images of Alamos life. High speed video at its best. Álamos, Sonora, México has never looked like this. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Cat & Goat

19 … All of Alamos is a little bit country, a little bit old world…

Cat and bananas, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mid-morning at a Barrio La Compana store. Parrots can be heard.

Minutes from the central Plaza and Alameda life slows. Here, almost everyone is walking or on a bike. Clothes are being hand-washed and hung out to air dry in the Sonoran sun. Smells of wood- fire cooking dance on a light cooling breeze. This is the life rarely seen on Mexican TV. These are the rural suburbs surrounding southern Spain’s Andalusian design influenced downtown.

Here we are - a ten minute walk from the Colonial Plaza.  A lone sheep within the grass, alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson

Here we are – a ten minute walk from the Colonial Plaza.

This is near the top of the hill on the road leading southeast out of town. Walk a couple of hundred more yards and one can turn left and hike up to the top of El Mirador road. It is a summer morning. Looking at the hillside one can spot a local resident out for their own breakfast.

shwwp in grass, alamos sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

We have been seen and we see. A peaceful rural tradeoff.

The cool air refreshes the spirit, today’s heat has yet to arrive – it will be here soon. The cloud cover will burn off and the rising sun will begin to cook the earth’s crust. This is a wonderful time to be out and about. During late spring and through the summer it is best to travel when the sun is low.

Goat, and wild flowers, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  photo by Anders Tomlinson.

So you think you can out stare a sheep do you? Give it a try.

All is well on a walk from the Plaza to take in the Mirador’s rewarding 360 degree view. In my mind’s eye the best way to see Alamos is go walking in any direction for an hour. One will always be rewarded. And, one will always find their way back to where they started. Look, or listen, for the Cathedral, it is a compass. Animals wander freely around Alamos. They know where they are. And they know where home is.

The cook's dog rests in their drive way just to the west of the airport runway.  alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

A dog at rest near the western edge of the airport runway.

At the other end of town, maybe a twenty minute walk from the plaza, the Cook’s dog rests in their driveway. She recently had four pups who are now struggling to survive. This is her time. This is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

goats at the western edge of the alamos airport runway, alamos sonora mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Watch-guard goats patrol land surrounding their house

These are goats who do what they do when they want to do it. They patrol and protect. They weed, strip and fertilize. They, like the resting dog, are part of the Cook’s property. All for one, one for all.

The conclusion to a Short History of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico embraces the Sierra Madre.
Here, Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral in the Plaza, a three-tiered belfry, shines gold in morning light. Here, looking east, one’s imagination is stirred by the forbidding beauty of the Sierra Madre Occidentals. Together, they shape the Alamos experience. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Calle Comercio 2

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum seen from bishop reyes cathedral, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Casa Nuzum seen from Bishop Reyes Cathedral. These are two long-time neighbors.

There is a charming city worth visiting
Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum first visit Alamos in 1953. They were introduced to Alamos by Tucson friends they were visiting in Guaymas. These friends told the Nuzums of a charming city down the two lane highway to Navajoa. The road from Navajoa to Alamos was dirt, full of ruts, crossed water and dirt and had roaming livestock, an ever-present danger. “The Tesoros was open then, and we would have liked to have stayed overnight–but our friends had to go back to Tucson, so we left.  We came back again as soon as we could…” from an interview with Pember Nuzum by Bev Krucek and Leila Gillette. Elizabeth Nuzum remembered that the Tesoros wasn’t officially open at the time but the staff would make them sandwiches and they be warmed by fireplaces. Kit Nuzum recall that his parents traveled to Alamos in the 1960’s with Linda Ronstats’ family.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, rainy day, summer 1996,, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A refreshing summer rain cools and cleans the Alamos streets and air.

A deal falls through and an opportunity rises.
Over the next twenty-five years Pember and Elizabeth lived at their Williams Addition property, in what is now the center of Tucson, and visited Alamos often, staying at both the Tesoros and Portales Hotels. They were prepared to buy a house in Los Arcos, in Tucson, but the deal fell through and they bought a ruin on Calle Comercio 2 from Jack and Jane Stewart. Most likely famed resident and real estate entrepreneur Levant Alcorn was involved with the sale. Carlos Pratt notes that his father, Charles Holt Pratt Jr, Chuck to his friends, was the realtor and a close friend of Pember’s. The property had been vacant for fifty years with collapsed roofs, no plumbing or electricity, dirt floors and a .5″ water pipe in the back building. Pember recalled that an American had lived there and that his bathroom was a hole in the floor.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum looking at the three-tiered belfry of bishop reyes cathedral, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

The Cathedral, and its bells, are part of Casa Nuzum’s fabric and being.

Home of the Silver Barons.
Calle Comercio was built in 1780 and was known as the Casa de “Chato Almada”, a famous Silver Baron, in the early 1800’s. Official records indicate that work on the church, Bishop Reyes Cathedral, began in 1786 and was finished in 1803. One could have been inside this casa and watch the three – tiered belfry rise in the sky.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Many have come to this door with a variety of reasons, expectations and wonder.

A set of false teeth, a door and a fireplace.
It took Pember And Elizabeth Nuzum four years to restore the project at a cost, according to Kit, their son, of $80,000. During the restoration they purchased an adjoining house from Micha, a nurse who lived in it. Pember remembered it was difficult to get her to vacant the property. Elizabeth recalled that part of the deal was providing Micha with a set of false teeth, a fireplace and a front door. Ana Marie Alcorn helped the Nuzums secure a deed, a difficult task, for the new addition. Now, the Nuzum project was a 8,000 square foot house sitting on 800 square meters.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Relax. Listen to your heart. Breath deep. Appreciate. Be one with all.

A body in the backyard.
They moved from room to room as the restoration was underway. Don Jacinto Urbulan was the contractor. There was a drain in the front of the patio where the fountain is now.  They moved it to the side. Pember states that they found a body in the backyard and bone bits scattered around the ruin. He theorized that the property may once had been part of the first churches’ courtyard.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum pond with fish,1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Does this fish understand how fortunate it has life in this well-tended pond?

The prodigal son speaks of secret tunnels and silver ingots.
Kit Nuzum wrote, ” I took a metel detector around the house and found silver ingot size anomalies in Pember’s bedroom – the old silver vault. The vigas on the roof are 8 inches apart not like
the standard 18 inches. Mom would not let me dig in her walls.
We found hollow spaces when putting in drains in the back utility room. This was suspected to be the famous escape route to the church. In the same walls, adjoining Edith Pratt’s place seven small skeletons were found. They were returned to a resting place.  They might have been miscarriages or unwanted pregnancies.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum living room, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Just outside a world moves from here to there in both time and space.

A popular color from the past.
In painting the inside of their house, they tried to match the original colors.  The coral color in their living room had been a popular color in the Álamos homes of the 19th Century. The scene above, minus the electric lights, could have been much the same two hundred years ago.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by gary ruble.

In the cool of the night peace and rest prevails

The green house off the Plaza next to the Church.
Casa Nuzum on Calle Comercio is known for the green color Pember and Elizabeth chose to paint the exterior. Most of the surrounding homes were painted white at that time. Elizabeth, in an interview, recalled that there may have been an ordinance requiring houses a certain distance from the church to be painted white or pastel. Such is life in a Colonial Center.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, entrance to nuzum museum, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Inside this door is the Nuzum family museum, beyond are bedrooms and workshops.

Sharing is part of the Alamos spirit.
The Saturday Amigos de Educación house and garden tours of Calle Comercio 2 were usually led by Pember Nuzum. They would stop in a small room between patios and learn about the Nuzum family and, of course, the ghosts of Alamos. Elizabeth Nuzum had given Alamos a gift of a library which the city would take over. Tour money was donated to start a scholarship program which now supports many Alamos students.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum swimming pool, 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

In the very back a small pool serves, reflects and comforts the soul.

Another patio, another world.
The back patio is where Elizabeth had a sewing room. Her close friendship with Pat Axelrod created a design business called Milagro. Carmen Rosas and her daughter sew the exquisite clothing, decorative pillows and pillows Elizabeth designed. The rear section of property has a secondary kitchen will all amenities, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, sala, laundry and pool. Spiral staircase to rooftop terrace with exceptional views.
The rooftop garden was one of Elizabeth’s great joys.

calle comercio 2, casa nuzum, nuzum kitchen 1993, alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

A busy kitchen is the heart of any and all Alamos’ casas.

Enjoying modern comforts in a colonial setting.
Calle Comercio 2’s main living section off of Calle Comercio has two courtyard gardens and portals for outdoor living. The formal salon is sixty feet in length with a grand fireplace and high ceilings. Full kitchen with traditional colonial oven, plus three bedrooms and two baths, library, dining, salon and office provide modern living comforts to a restoration true to its origins: spaces, ceilings, canterra columns, doors, windows, and other colonial architectural details.

calle comercio 2, alamos, sonora, mexico.  casa nuzum, garden with pond, photo by anders tomlison

It takes attention and effort to keep these gardens flourishing.

Reflecting on maintaining Calle Comercio 2.
It takes a great effort to preserve a restoration.  Kit writes, “Pember always had three full time employees: a mozo, gardener and maid.  There was always a constant stream of mallestros from plumbing to carpentry to masons to laborers.  The house was swept and dry mopped daily, 8000 square feet. The 3 patios were trimmed, watered and fertilized regularly.
The roof was painted annually…”

calle comercio 2, alamos, sonora, mexico. casa nuzum, kids with kites pass by house, photo by anders tomlinson

Another parade passes between Calle Comercio 2 and the Church.

A place for encouragement and self-expression.
A kite festival, started by Elizabeth and her daughter Cammie and son-in -law Chaco, has become a local tradition on windy March days. Seen above, young kite-flyers return from the Mirador at the top of Perico Hill. Calle Comercio is a parade throughout the day. Funerals pass by on their way from the Church to the graveyard. To and from school and market students and adults come and go. Elizabeth, and Calle Comercio, played an important part promoting education and the arts in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

calle comercio 2, alamos, sonora, mexico. casa nuzum, garden with pond, photo by anders tomlinson

I often saw Elizabeth, “Bett” to her friends in this Madonna’s face.

It felt like home.
Kit Nuzum looks back at Calle Comercio 2: “Elizabeth was in charge of all things for making a good quality of life. Her architectural knowledge helped make the Alamos property a national heritage site as shown in various publications. Her appointments of the space where renowned. To come  to an Elizabeth and Pember party was memorable and a delight. The elegance and joy for the invited guest was legendary still to this day. The home appointments were eclectic, ethnic, international, warm and pleasant. I have fond memories of Christmas and New years at Calle Comercio 2. And many happy party nights in this once-in-a-life-time space. The one thing I really remember  is it felt like home.  I spent 13 years in Alamos but I never lived there full-time, just a visitor…”

Elizabeth Nuzum at her greeting table. Photo - Joan Gould Winderman

Elizabeth at her greeting table. Photo – Joan Gould Winderman

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©2014 Anders Tomlinson, Alamos History Association and Kit Nuzum, all rights reserved.

Alamos Windows

20 … Looking at windows from the outside is different than looking outside from within…

little house in alamos, sonora,mexico that is painted with natural vegatation.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Can you find the little house that can be hard to see?

Walking down the dirt roads, off the nearby plaza, are ventures into another land – another time in space. It is a land of people close to the land. It is a place where the little things are of greater substance and meaning. Here nature is loud – listen to crowing roosters next door, decipher neighboring dog barks and admire native birds singing in concert with days of old and now. This is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

house covered with plants. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

This little house caught my eye as it lived and breathed.

This was a wonderful casa in Barrio El Barranco. Going green has been a concept as far back as the planet’s beginning. Most poor people of the earth are off the grid. And the use of plant materials for shelter is common across the continents. This house has it all, a tribute to its surroundings.

Remodeled home on Las Auroras.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A wonderful example of a ruin restored to modern splendor.

I first met this ruin on Calle Las Auroras while heading out to the airport 1983. It was still a ruin when I revisited in 1993. Work seemed to be underway to clean the property. I was told some Hollywood folks were in the process of bringing it back to life. Three years later it was a sparkling gem along a dusty road. Future posts will look at the resurrection of this home.

triangle windows on Calle Las Auroras.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Another window treatment on Calle Las Auroras.

This window seems to come from an earlier time and a different civilization. Stark triangles in a thick wall of adobe. It seemed there were children playing outside it’s door every time I passed by on my way to the airport and countryside.

Window bars cast dancing shadows against an alamos, sonora, mexico white washed wall.  photo by anders tomlinson.

iron shadows dance across a white washed wall.

Alamos is known for its craftsmanship. Here, there are artists amongst the trades. This ornamental, and functional, iron window bar, in the colonial centro, creates a show of strength and poetic movement as its shadows follow the passing sun. Elegance.

window bar treatment in centro alamos, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Home security begins with window bars of many colors and designs.

Function. There is no doubt the intention is to protect. This bar design seem more suited for a commercial establishment along a busy street. It is all about intention.

Warmth Radiates off of Adobe Walls as Another Winter Day Begins.
Kite flying is popular in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Drinking beer outside the pickup with friends is popular. Fun and work go on side by side as we visit a wood shop. Video …

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Alamos Gas Stations

alamos sonora mexico gas station photos by humberto enriquez

The Old Gas Station

 The traditional gas station is on the western edge of the busy Alameda, Alamos, sonora, Mexico. Photo by Humberto Enríquez

The busy station on the western edge of the Alameda – Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

In Alamos the gas station of Jesus Salido in the center of the town is the traditional gas station that has been serving for many years Alamos residents, tourists and anybody who have a car, motorcycle, truck or bus. One person said if you watch the peoples coming and going at the gas station you learns much about what makes Alamos go, that is true and the Alamos activities, over the years don’t change much – Humberto

A Bird’s Eye View

The Salido gas station on the Alameda seen from Guadalupe Hill. alamos, sonora, mexico .  photo by Humberto Enríquez

The Alameda gas station seen from Guadalupe Hill. Photo: Humberto Enríquez

Many things change, different people, different stores, different cars, different trees but our necessities of gas for our cars, or air for our bicycles, or tires are the same until we find energy other than fossil fuels for our cars and motorcycles – Humberto

A Wider Bird’ Eyes View of the Alameda Gas Station

2014 - Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez. alamos sonora mexico.

2014 – Looking northwest from Guadaloupe Hill. Photo: Huberto Enríquez

Eco Gas Station

New natural gas station is the eco station.  alamos, sonora, mexico.Photo:  Humberto Enríquez.

There is a natural gas station in Alamos. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.


This station is one 1 km west of Alamos on the highway to Navajoa.

Modern Times Drive On Into the Future

Welcome to the 21st Century ala Pemex. another new gas station in alamos sonora mexico. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

Welcome to the 21st Century ala Pemex. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

Since the year 2000 Alamos has had many changes. Alamos went back to its beginnings years with the opening of two mines and that started an avalanche of companies who serve to the mines. These past years the Municipal Government, State Government and Federal Government promoted the town as an international tourist destination. Alamos was introduced in the program of Pueblos Magicos de Mexico. Several promotional videos of the region and the town which were shown in different countries around the world to attract tourists. This produced increased – excessive flow of vehicles and the opening of more gas stations – Humberto

Where There is a Need…

A modern gas station fills the auto needs of Alamos. Photo: Humberto Enríquez. alamos sonora mexico

A modern gas station fills the auto needs of Alamos. Photo: Humberto Enríquez.

Today we have 3 gas and one natural gas station in Alamos. The oldest one is owned by “Jesus (Chuy) Salido” in the center of the town. The other gas stations are all on the road to Navajoa. “La Carretera” is located near the Alamos hospital. “El Datil” located 3 KM from Alamos. The natural gas station is located 1 km from Alamos – Humberto

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©2014 Alamos-Sonora-Mexico.com and Humberto Enríquez, all rights reserved.

Church Bells

64… Two churches, two bells, two men and two towns…

tino, caretaker of the church, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Tino and his beloved Bishop Reyes Cathedral face another sunset.

I knew this would be an interesting photograph. A man, who, in his face, had seen much of what life has to offer, a church bell framed by its belfry and a natural backdrop stretching from Mirador to Sierra Madres. All were lit by a low brillant sun whose golden rays were diffused by humid shimmering heat waves. We only had a moment to take this photo, as we were speaking he was summoned to fix a pressing property emergency, this is what maestro Tino did. I asked him to look towards the sun and pressed the shutter button. One click and done, another moment saved for the future, this is what Anders does.

Caretaker and bell at Aduana church, near Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Caretaker of Nuestra Senora de Balvanere Church in nearby Aduana.

La Aduana on a midweek day in late Spring is peaceful. Take away the sounds of birds, insects, burros, dogs and a handful of kids and it is really quiet. Few cars will be heard for hours.
This is a place where the past lingers on, mining sites and ruins litter hillsides, a lonely plaza’s dry fountain surrounded by buildings once busy including a store where customers’ shoes for hundreds of year have cut a groove into the floor. I visit the small church and met the caretaker who takes me on the roof so I can see the town from where the bells of Nuestra Senora de Balvanere are. The church has an interesting story involving a beautiful maiden, Indians and some rocks, but that is for a coming journal entry. It is hard to imagine what it is like when
thousands of pilgrims arrive in La Aduana, many walking along arroyos from Alamos, to honor the Virgin of Balvanere every November 21st. A breeze kicks up dust on an empty road, a crow calls, three boys in a dry creek bed laugh and the day moves on. Life in Aduana 1996 is much different than life in Aduana 1700, one can only wonder what it will be like in Aduana 2020.

two church bells at bishop reyes cathedral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photos Gary Ruble and Anders Tomlinson.

A tale of two bells, one old, one new, and how they toll.

The bells of Bishop Reyes Cathedral are part of Alamos’ daily fabric, they are a prominent voice in a complex orchestral sonic landscape. Here are old and new: a cracked bell was replaced by a shinny bell. I was raised to believe if you don’t have something good to say about something don’t say anything. This is a good rule of thumb, especially in small rural communities. There are always exceptions: this new bell didn’t make me feel good. It wasn’t inviting me, its clang was more of a warning. It is possible that the bell vibrates discordantly only to me, but I find this hard to believe, I have a good ear. Maybe it was the bell ringer’s technique. 14 years have passed, maybe it has mellowed with age. I hope so. A town so culturally rich should have a bell that touches the heart and inspires the imagination. Maybe it does now.

This marker celebrates the birthplace of Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Dr. Ortiz Tirado is another Alamos native that touched the world.

Dr. Ortiz Tirado was born in Alamos and spent his early tears in Culican, Sinola before moving with his newly widowed mother and family to Mexico City. He became a successful doctor specializing in plastic surgery and was Frida Kahlo’s bedside doctor. He made vast contibutions to the medical world. And he could sing. His beautiful tenor entertained audiences across continents. Alamos hosts a grand music festival in his honor, The Festival International Dr. Arturo Ortiz Tirado, that includes dance, art and music with workshops, lectures and concerts. The festival entertainment, centered in Alamos, also performs across Sonora visiting venues in Nogales, Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregon, Hutabampo and Navojoa.
The ten day event is held each year in late January.

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©2012 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Pemex

68… At the Alameda’s western edge is the gas station…

Looking northwest from The jail on Guadalupe Hill, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A summer view looking northwest from the old jail on Guadalupe Hill.

Three busy centers of Alamos can be seen above: the gas station is at the photo’s bottom left, just to the left of the two story building. The Asoc. Ganadera local de Alamos is seen to the left of the gas station with its large angled metal roof that is behind and part of the local cattlemen and ranchers association’s office. The roof’s design acts like a speaker broadcasting music from dances held here across town and off the mountains. In the middle near the right edge is La Capilla Zapopan. Chapel Zapopan was built in 1841 for Dona Juana Mallen by Don Ignacio Almada y Alvarado.

pemex gas station in the alemeda, alamos, sonora, mexico 1995.  photo by anders tomlinson.

One approaches the busy Alameda as the highway from the west ends.

The nature of my documentary efforts is capturing an area’s geography and events during a certain time period. There has been numerous times while I edited history films that I wished someone had taken a picture that benchmarked a landscape in a specific era. My photos will, hopefully, be accessible to future film makers as they look back and interpret the past. The body of my work is not commercial photography: these images were not made for someone or something. They are part and parcel of a time-capsule-database-puzzle driven by my quizzical eye. This Journal you are now reading is my attempt to make it less a puzzle by providing information about the photos and the context that they were produced in. As example, Alamos’ population has nearly doubled since I last visited and I am sure that many of these scenes have changed just as I am sure that many remain the same. I have heard for years that the jail on this hill would become a cultural center, a wonderful idea for a substantial structure with million dollar views right in the middle of town. The question becomes, is this same vantage point in 2011 a view from a cultural center or is it a photo from the old jail? All I know is this is what it looked like in 1996 and behind me was a jail with armed guards wanting me to buy inmate handcrafted horsehair products.

Looking down into gas station, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The only gas station in town is part of a Federal monopoly.

On March 18, 1938 the Mexican government nationalized foreign oil companies operating in Mexico. This was the birth of Petroleos Mexicanos, Pemex. Today it is the second largest state owned country in the world as well as the second largest company in Latin America. Pemex has 138,000 employees and pays taxes that cover 40% of the federal government budget. The Mexican petroleum industry has come a long way from Tampico in 1876 when oil was first successfully refined into kerosene. Modern Mexico and Pemex, with assets worth USD $416 billion, are tied at the billfold.

Pemex gas station, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Need gas? Need air? Need directions. Here is a good place to go.

If one was to spend a day watching the comings and goings at the gas station they would learn much about what makes Alamos go. People pull in for gas and air all day long: on foot with gas cans, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, big trucks and buses. Conversations take place between customers, attendants, people passing by and folks hanging out. Locals, tourists, ranchers from out back, North American community members, employers, workers, poor and rich all show up if they need gas here and now. Waiting in line can be a social event.

Late afternoon in the Alameda near the gas station, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Another day is coming to an end, a time of reflection and preparation.

These kids are sitting across the street from the gas station. What are they thinking? And where are they today? Did they they know of Carlos Slim Helu? Currently, Carlos Slim Helu is thought to the wealthiest man on planet earth. His father, Julian, emigrated to Mexico from Lebanon at the age of 14 in 1902. Julian began his business career, and long lasting family fortune, with a dry goods store and Mexico City commercial real estate investments. Today, Carlos is chairman and CEO of Telemex and America Movil. His conglomerate Grupo Carso SAB has extensive holdings in other Mexican Companies. All together, his corporate holdings in 2011 are thought to be worth USD $74 billion.

Soon it will be time for these kids to say goodbye to each other and return to their families for dinner. The future of Mexico is tied to Pemex, the likes of Carlos Slim Helu, these kids and the kids who are now sitting in this very same place. I wonder what the kids of today are thinking?

gas station, pemex, alamos, sonora, mexico, 1993.  photo by anders tomlinson

No customer with cash, or good credit, is too small or too big.

This is a busy place in a noisy neighborhood. It is a junction that keeps Alamos, Sonora, Mexico functioning in the modern internal combustion era. In reality, not ever one in Alamos owns a car. In fact, most do not own a car and if they need to travel they walk, ride bikes, motor scooters, an occasional horse, taxis or buses. Life without a car is a slower life. Some would say it is the way to live life come sunrise, come sunset.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Casa de los Santos

32 … Christmas on the road came home at Casa de los Santos

Living room at Casa de los Santos, 1992, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Gary Ruble.

A quiet moment in a beautiful space, the workers are gone for the holidays.

Years of neglect during the 20th century chipped away at Calle Molina #8, yet another grand Almada family mansion turned to ruin. Jim and Nancy Swickard purchased what was left standing in 1988, a central section minus two wings that once surrounded the courtyard on three sides. A four year renovation effort commenced with as many as twenty workers on site at any given time. When we arrived in 1992 the project was nearly finished, a new spirit had taken up residence in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Our photographic crew of five, led by internationally renown Gary Ruble, prepared to light the living room, kitchen, interior portales and pool area. Casa de los Santos was ours for a couple of hours.

Kitchen at Casa de los Santos, 1992, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo Gary Ruble.

A maestro was brought in to create a dramatic domed brick kitchen ceiling.

Kitchens are the engine rooms of Álamos. Here, is where living starts anew each day. Here, is physical and social sustenance. What struck me about Casa de los Santos was its majestic scale anchored by reverent detail. There was much to see but nothing was crowded, everything had its special place, space flowed from here to there as the interior decorating became a pilgrimage in and of itself.

Interior portales at Casa de los Santos, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by gary Ruble.

The inside portal, and climate, provides an inside – outside way of life.

The interior portals are an Álamos way of life. Arches support roofs without exterior walls and protect residents and casa from the elements. Here, under shade, gardens, views and furnishings come together providing living and dining areas. Imagine sitting here, outside the wall are the muffled sounds of town, a dog barks, children play… Inside, bird sings and wings flutter, breezes come and go, water features provide soothing sound, music and guest voices travel across the courtyard. This is now and then, Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Pool area at Casa de los Santos, 1992, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Gary Ruble.

It is still, a winter squall has passed. Breathe deep, relax.

Our crew was staying at Puerta Roja Inn on Calle Galeana and Casa Nuzum on Calle Comercio. Though we were separated by only a short walk, mere minutes, we were worlds apart. And this another aspect of Álamos, behind each front door is a social universe unto itself. And it is easy to become lost in the moment and swept away by chance meetings and impromptu invitations. I, as director – producer, was starting to lose control of our efforts. The photo shoot at Casa de los Santos was the first time in days we were all together and on the same page. This moment was my Christmas, we were doing what we came to do. December 1992, Casa de los Santos, and our team in action, priceless.

Hacienda de los Santos 2015 Update

Everyday is history, here the Hacienda's main pool lives on.

Everyday is history, here the Hacienda’s main pool lives on. Photo: Amy Haskell

Casa de los Santos has grown over the years, expanding into other colonial mansions
all interconnected by walkways and maturing gardens.

casa de los santos, alamos, sonora mexico. the largest fountain which was originally the sugar mill's 'Mill'.  It had oxen and a stone wheel to crush the sugar cane.  The operation went into bankruptcy in 1710 and we are the second owner's of record.

Listen closely and one may hear the past come alive. Photo: Amy Haskell

“The Hacienda goes back into a construction mode in July, 2015 with some remodeling work on the sugar mill property to create a true, and long awaited, gift shop adjacent to the Cafe Agave. A new Spa will be ready to open in the Fall and the present spa. We hope to have three totally new Master Suites for next season, plus two inner connecting Hacienda Guest Rooms for families. Our total room and suite count will be 32 for next season. We will have some exciting news this summer about some international recognition for Hacienda de los Santos…” Jim Swickard

To see it as it is today visit Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa.

For more 2015 summer updates visit Jim Swickard notes

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Rooftop Gardens

78… A rooftop that lives and breath all things Alamos…

Nuzum roof top garden across the street ffom Bishop Reyes Catheral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth Nuzum's garden across the street from Bishop Reyes Cathedral.

Here, in the shadow of cathedral bells and angelic choirs was a multi-purpose rooftop garden. A narrow wrought iron caracol, snail, spiral staircase led one up from a back patio with a small pool to an expansive array of raised planter boxes. Elizabeth Nuzum enjoyed people, her home, her gardens and life in Alamos. For many, her husband Pember and Elizabeth were Alamos greeters, welcoming visitors inside the old wood doors on Calle Comercio. Elizabeth designed and managed her gardens while Pember kept an eye on the household finances.

Flowers and Sierra de Alamos from Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

20 feet above the street one can hold a conversation with passing clouds.

The roof top garden and its 360 degree views was a special place. The sky at night, with stars there to be touched while one laid back on a substantial Sonoran cot, was a connection to all things in all places. Rooftop eavesdropping on the comings and goings along Calle Comercio and Calle Guadaloupe Victoria tuned one in with the heartbeats of Alamos: Bishop Reyes Cathedral, Palacio, Plaza de Las Armas, Mercado, all points of the compass and all events past and present.

Nuzum roof top garden looking east at Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Mirador voices, at times, arrived here with a favorable wind.

Let me count the sounds I heard up on the roof: uniformed school kids walking in groups, talking, laughing, singing, stepping off rhythms, kicking balls, kids being all things kids. Occasional horse hoofs echoing on cobblestone streets. Music from rattling car and truck radios ricocheting off narrow streets. Surround sound bird songs and calls punctuated by barking dogs, working hammer and saws and distant braying burros. All combinations of people passing by: one, two, or three generations together talking, workers, errand runners, neighbors en-route to visit neighbors or hang out in the Plaza, shop at the Alameda and Mercado or attend to business at the Palacio or… This garden overlooked the center of Centro Alamos’ rainbow of expression: joy, surprise, acceptance, expectations, anger, yearning, anticipation. greetings, farewells…

Christina Vega on Nuzum's roof garden, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A young girl picks flowers on the roof, a simple moment, a simple smile.

Christina Vega, daughter of Chacho and Cammie, sister of Gaspar, walked in all worlds Alamos. Her Mexican blood was Chaco’s large family and her American blood was Cammie’s parents Elizabeth and Pember and brother Kit who came to visit from his world travels. Cammie and Chacho lived modestly on Calle Ninos Heroes, a short walk from the grand roof top garden on the the other side of Guadaloupe Hill.

Christina Vega and church from Nuzum roof, alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

What does Christina see, and hear, on this spring day in 1984?

The roof’s northwest corner, with a view into the Plaza and Gazebo, was across the street from the bank. At opening time a line of people would be waiting sharing conversation. Daily masses brought people to the church’s eastern door. Funerals processions would leave the church and passed by as they headed east to the Panteon – Cemetery. Police headquarters, at times busy, were three houses to the east on Calle Comercio. Tourists speaking English, French, German and other languages would stop and chat as they headed to and from surrounding lodging. At night, one could listen to quitar playing coming from Polos restaurant’s kitchen as well as the Estudiantina practicing at the Museum. At this moment Christina is listening to the public serenade that is Alamos.

Pember told Anders, “always call us Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.” And Anders has.
Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum were a major part of the North American Community for decades. Their casa next to the Church on Calle Comercio #2 greeted many many who visited Alamos, including Anders. It is not uncommon to have rain squalls in December. And it was common to hear Pember playing his theater organ in the Nuzum music room. Those days are gone. But the spirit lingers, it always does.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Nigthtime Power

30 … Imaginations soar with night when all one can see is lit by man or moon…

Governor's Mansion ruin at night, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Light and shadow, substance and form, history and echos, spirits and ghosts.

In the night, things from the past bump into modern moments. As example, aged columns, scarred by events that rushed through time, are illuminated by electricity. As example, Sonora and Sinoloa were merged into a new state of Occidente and in November 1827 Alamos was declared its capital. On January 10, 1828, Governor Jose Maria Gaxiola moved into his official residence behind the walls seen above. Here, decisions were made that shaped those days, life was lived to match royalty in Spain and the mines to the west were in full production and… You are here…

Calle Comercio at night, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Calle Comercio on a summer midnight, 1996. Even spirits must sleep.

If that police pickup truck, parked across the street from the Police station, wasn’t there then where could we be, and when? The answer is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico circa both 1800 and 2011. This is a portrait of power. At the western end, the cobblestones leads one up the steps and into the Cathedral’s side doors. Down the block to the east, the Governor and Bishop mansions were, and are, across the street from one another. Thousands of miles to the east is Spain, thousands of miles to the west is China and at one time they were both here, and today their DNA marches on.

The hospital in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

There is no mistaking this for the past. Modern lines, modern times.

On the way into Alamos Centro a regional – basic care hospital is setback on the right. At night, this scene could be an emergency room anywhere in the world. I had need to visit after one long difficult day into night. The doctors were here in Alamos for one year’s mandatory service, a bridge between medical school and where they would go to make their livings. That night, my doctor came from outside Guadalajara and hoped he would be going to Tijuana, to be on the frontier of modern Mexico. I was impressed by how he looked me in the eyes, how he touched and probed, and by the questions he asked and how he listened and responded to my answers. He was in the moment, and the moment was all about bringing me comfort. It was not about profit or loss. It was about me.

X-rays were needed to evaluate what was happening in my chest. Alas, their x-ray machine was down for repairs. He gave me a shot to reduce my discomfort and asked me to bring him back chest x-rays. He had done all he could do. The morning began meeting the Police chief in his office, at his request, and ended up on a midnight taxi cab ride to Navajoa in search of x-rays. And this day will be another of the twelve Alamos short stories I am preparing to write.

Tis the Season of Love and Jackets.
Christmas in the Plaza de Las Armas is a time of of sharing and joy. Food, fireworks and the town coming out to be seen and see is what community is all about.

It is In The Night That the Past Dances Down Narrow Streets
Oh little town of Alamos. Lights sparkle in the evening darkness. Pungent smells float with the shifting breeze. Music, live and recorded, rises up from the homes and neighborhoods. Birds sing under star filled skies. Dogs bark and cars pass by. Footsteps on cobblestone and smoke from fireplaces create mystic moments. Children of all ages play late into the night on the quiet streets.

Night time is not threatening, it is a celebration of another day both coming and going. Night time is magical. The town seems smaller. The world becomes all you can see looking down a street. It is easy to focus on the smallest thing. And behind the walls there are other worlds: private legacies, conversations., comforts, learnings, entertainments, deliberations, dreams.
 Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

The Place to Be and Be Seen
It is a wonderful feeling to sit with a friend in the plaza on a pleasant evening. Here, one can watch people come, be and go. This is the a place to be seen and see. When all have come and gone it becomes a romantic refuge for a young couple.


Imagine horse drawn carriages, burro pack trains, and cars that have come into Alamos along these streets. Imagine the families that have been here for centuries. Imagine the change of government, some peaceful some violent. It is all here in the shadows of night. Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson.
Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Casa Obregon 18

38 … A fanciful garden in Alamos, where art, humans and flora-fauna coexist as one …

casa obregon 18, outside sign, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The hanging address sculpture says it all - through this door expect the unexpected.

Welcome to Casa Obregon 18, now known as Casa Roberto. It is mid-morning on a cloud free summer day. I will meet the owner, Roberto Bloor, for a cup of coffee, and then photograph his yard. The air is sweet smelling. The streets are quiet.

roberto, owner of Casa Obregon 18, Alamos, Sonora, Mexcio.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Meet Roberto and his trained parrot sitting on his shoulder or is that a...

I did not know much about Roberto. I was told he came to Alamos as a Canadian with a back pack and stayed to become hotel Casa de los Tesoros’ cook. While serving as chef and co-owner Roberto published, around 1969 with co-owner Darley Gordon, a book called Culinary Treasures from the Casa de Los Tesoros. After many years at the hotel Roberto took ownership of Casa Obregon 18 and began another creative adventure.

Casa Roberto, Casa Obregon 18 sala , alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Colonial floor plans add charm and dignity to Alamos floor plans.

As we sat talking in the sala we were surrounded by Roberto’s mosaic paintings. Our conversation was interrupted by a couple of phone calls. It sounded like they were October room reservations. And then he was gone to oversee work taking place in one of his two garages.

Casa Roberto, Casa Obregon 18 sala, close-up of roberto bloor's art. alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

There is a time and place for making and enjoying art in Alamos.

Welcome to Galeria Roberto Bloor. Roberto seemed to have time only for things that would benefit Roberto, time management is an excellent small business tool. It is also necessary for an artist to find the time to create. I was left alone to wander through the courtyards.

Iron scluptures at Casa Obregon 18, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

O.K. We have arrived in Robertoland and there are no lines to wait in..

Casa Obregon, a colonial mansion on hotel row, was built in 1800, and written about in Ida Luis Franklin’s book, Ghosts of Alamos.
The Inn is 4,000 square feet with four bedrooms and four baths. And then there are the yards. Everywhere you look the unexpected appears, lurking or jumping out at you. The checkerboard lawn, with squares made of brick and alternating grass, is a page from Roberto in Wonderland.

Casa Obregon 18 gardens, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The fountain is dry. A broken pipe has cut off water to Centro Alamos.

This was the third day of no water to central downtown east of the Church. It would be another two days before service was be restored. Today, 2011, Casa Roberto is for sale. The gardens, colors, sculptures and eccentric design can be yours for $550,000 USD. Ghosts are included – free of charge.

Portrait of Roberto Bloor, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

Roberto in between two of his birds of art serenading one another.

It was easy for Roberto to take a moment and flash a big smile for my camera and then go on his way, managing another day, talking to himself under his breath.

Casa Roberto, Casa Obregon 18 sala, roberto bloor's patio. alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

Fanciful creatures, at the waterhole, inhabit an organized landscape design

Roberto’s mosaic art and sculptures are everywhere on the property – indoors and outdoors. Casa Obregon 18 is a statement to an individuals creative drive. Here is balance, statement and projection. Here is life as art and art as life. Here was Roberto Bloor.

Casa Roberto, Casa Obregon 18, roberto bloor's patio. alamos, sonora, mexico. photo by anders tomlinson.

It is hard not to follow the walkways to get from here to there at Casa Roberto

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Hurricane Fausto

37 … A storm hits, a tree falls, man removes tree and repaves street…

trees fall in Alameda, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

An old cottonwood trees was uprooted by a summer storm.

Hurricane Fausto, in 1996, uprooted a giant cottonwood tree in the Alameda. There was minor damage elsewhere, but nothing life threatening or forcing people from their homes. In the aftermath men quickly began to cut the tree into large sections. The tree was directly exposed to the winds from the west.

cutting tree in Alameda, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

One damaging aspect from Fausto, one big cleanup for man.

Where does one start to remove a fallen tree? One moves it from the street so traffic can flow again and then one begins to cut it up into smaller pieces: one cut, two cuts, three cuts, four, and … The significance of this photo series is it demonstrates how Alamos continues to be what it is today: build, repair, rebuild, remodel, redecorate, repair, rebuild and…

moving tree by hand in the Alameda, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Simple tools and strong backs take on a heavy task.

Man has moved large objects for thousands of years with the understood laws of physics and tools made from available materials. For a brief moment i saw men building pyramids in Egypt, laying out Stonehenge and erecting monuments on Easter Island. It is part of our DNA.

repaving street, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The tree is gone, removed section by section. Time to repave the street,

Rebuilding has begun. The missing tree will be memorialized by the new bricks in its place surrounded by weather, oil and rubber stained bricks. Hurricane Norbert, 2008, was one for the history book. It took out all of the Alameda’s remaining cottonwoods. I received a note from Beverly Krucek including this information, “The Alameda has been completely redone….the basketball court removed and a poplar tree lined esplanade built in….antique green benches surround the whole area and it makes a wonderful eye “rest” in the middle of town. The aforementioned basketball court has been moved to a Sports Arena at the entrance of town which also includes a soccer field, baseball, tennis courts and a proposed swimming pool. The next step is to create some sort of recreation center.” Beverly Krucek is involved with the local Alamos History Club which meets most Thursdays fall through spring. And life goes on in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico: The flood of 1770, the hurricane of 2008, the… and it goes on.

An occasional summer storm floods three arroyos in Alamos with mountain runoff.
Summer is the rainy season. Occasional tropical storms, remnant of hurricanes, come in from the Sea of Cortez to the west. This is the morning after a storm hit the region hard the previous evening.

And Then the Storm Came

The summer rains are here, the sweet night air cools warm bodies bringing relief and contemplation. The purity and hope of laughing young couples, alone with each other, drenched to the bone, clinging wet clothes, make their way home late at night splashing and dancing in cobblestone puddles. Above, the heavens explode, a cannonade of thunder rumbles across silhouetted mountain ridges backlit by fantastic lightening. It is time to go to asleep under one sheet in the cool of a warm night. And then the big storm, remnants of a tropical typhoon, arrived. In an instant the sky turned angry dark, the air became colder and a deafening wind shrieked through the trees. It rained and continuously howled from late afternoon until just before dawn. In the morning, stunned town folk came out and watched from a safe distance the fast running rivers that are normally dry arroyos. Over the coming days waters receded, children played in cool shallow pools and rock men filled their trucks with fresh sand. Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson.
Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Bandstand – Kiosk

76… Quiet days in Plaza de Las Armas as stewardship continues on…

Kiosk- band stand with green roof, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

1984, It is a quiet day in the well-maintained Plaza de Las Armas.

All sight lines lead one to the Kiosk, the visual centerpiece of the Plaza de Las Armas. In days of old, traveling dance bands would donate an hour public performance in the Kiosk to avoid paying a municipal tax and also help promote their evening concert. The elevated bandstand Kiosk offers a wonderful vantage point of Plaza activities and surroundings. Bishop Reyes Cathedral and Sierra de Alamos as a backdrop,especially with magic sunrise-sunset light, is a stunning vista from the Kiosk. Here, curious imaginations can sense the past.

Summer day in the Plaza de Las Armas, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

1996, large rose bushes filled up the park surrounding the Kiosk.

Twelve years have passed from the first photo to the second. Much is the same and some has changed. The landscaping is different: roses cover much of the bare ground have replace small trees and scattered bushes. A decorative backdrop for a drinking fountain has been added to the northwest corner of the park. And the kiosk’s canopy is now painted red. Many of my North American friends in Alamos were displeased with the change, they felt it was a cheap move to make the plaza more touristy. Ah, the hands of change move in synchronized concert with the hands of time as man restores, rebuilds and remodels.

restoration work on the Kiosk in Plaza de Las Armas, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Restorers begin work on the inside panels of the Kiosk canopy.

The cloth painted mural panels in the Kiosk were badly deteriorated and pigeons nests were inside the torn fabric and the canopy ceiling. Museo Costumbrista de Sonora’s director Antonio Estrada was in charge of the restoration project. Antonio, a fine-art sculptor in his own right, has strived to maintain the colonial integrity of Centro Alamos. As I write this post I realize I have images in one of my Alamos books of un-scanned slides of the panels just before these men started to remove them. Later today I will find and scan the slides and add them to my digital Alamos image database. I saw on the beautiful tourism site Alamos, Pueblo Magico that the panels were restored, and maintained, to their original magnificence. Stewardship in the face of advancing time and the hands of unrelenting gravity is never done until there is no more to steward.

Plaza de Las Armas seen from Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A bird-eyes view of Plaza de Las Armas as seen from Mirador.

Even from a great distance the Kiosk draws the eye as one takes in the Plaza from up high on Mirador to the east. The colonial charm of Alamos, and the interaction of its citizens, is evident in this photo. On November 23, 2000, President Zedillo declared 188 Alamos, Sonora, Mexico structures as National Historic Monuments. The buildings seen here were built in the last half of the 18th century on older existing sites. I am certain that a photo taken today from the same place with the same lens will be much the same. Plants and paint may be different but the historic structures will be the structures that have been here for over 200 years.

Estudiantina de Alamos performs before a packed Plaza as a film crew captures the event.
It is a big day in the Plaza. A TV crew has come to town and is filming a music concert. Estudiantina de Alamos, a crowd favorite, is performing. They will also back up several other acts. The bandstand is surrounded by adolescent girls and an scattered smiling mothers.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Los Tianguis

52… Thoughts from an anonymous source, photos by Anders….

I have always enjoyed creative collaboration. One of my goals is to edit and design a book – DVD intermixing my photographs, and videos, with words from people who know Alamos well. The followingly thoughts were given to me by in 2003 by Kit Nuzum as I was beginning to edit video from Spring and Summer of 1996. I think someone else wrote these words with, or for Kit, possibly Liliana Carosso. For the time being we will credit the famous Anonymous.

Los tianguis, open air market held on sunday mornings in Arroyo La Aduana.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Sunday morning is colorful outdoor market time in Arroyo La Aduana.

The Tianguis, a Sunday open air market where for four dollars we acquired six tomatoes that smell vine ripened, five avocados in appropriate stages of ripeness for a week’s worth of guacamole, two dozen unwashed ranch eggs, half a kilo of excellent Chihuahua cheese, three bedding plants and the pleasant aftertaste of breakfast at the best fish taco stand in Sonora…

Produce stall at open air Sunday market, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Discerning eyes, aware of quality and bargains, shop for produce.

Like the blast of ranchero music from the adjacent CD stand accompanying purchases at our favorite produce stall, the gentle generosity of the Mexican psyche makes us love marketing and Mexico itself…

Indian woman in open air market, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

A proud face made beautiful by life's challenges and aging wisdom.

My notebook indicate that this woman’s name is Alejandico Lopez. I would be so happy if these notes were right. And now back to Anonymous…

Learning to be quick of hand when the Mexican housewives crowd in ahead of you and plop their purchases on the scale while you patiently stand aside, they know you are a gringo. You wear silver not gold, white women wear men’s hats, so you extend an extra effort to be courteous. Never mind, just get these potatoes on the scale, that cilantro looks nice…

They come from all over the region with things to buy and sell.
Sunday, north of Arroyo La Aduana, there is an open-air market filled with people and music. Meals, snacks, produce, clothing, toys, tires, bikes, tools and what ever folks bring to sale fill out both sides of a colorful promenade. It is a wonderful place to shop and meet neighbors, family and friends, new and old. These market scenes were filmed during Christmas, 1993. Video…

What better place to be on a beautiful Spring Sunday morning.
There are many places to be on an Alamos Sunday. One is the open marketplace los Tianguis. merchants arrive early to setup their wares. The morning starts calm as customers begin to arrive. Soon the breezes have arrived. Cottonwood leaves rattle in the wind. Music floats from booth to booth. Children laugh and adults barter. For many this is an important shopping trip for others its is reason to be out, see and be seen.

Together they are a community, one for all, all for one.
Brisk Spring winds continue on through the late morning at los Tianguis in Arroyo Aduana.
This is small town Mexico. Family, friends, eating, shopping, and catching up with those one hasn’t seen in awhile: months, weeks or maybe an hour ago.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Rancho Las Crucecitas

You say Estancia Crysalis – I say Rancho Las Crucecitas…

walking home from town to Estancia Crysalis, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

This may not be a well-traveled road but it is a long-traveled path through time.

If one were to close their eyes and listen to the footsteps of this old woman, with a young woman’s body, one would hear someone going back in time, retracing footprints of the ancient ones as this old woman returns to Estancia Crysalis. Here is another world where the land speaks in a dominate voice. Listen carefully, and one will hear sounds that Indians heard before the arrival of the Spanish. Here, there is a purity of all things nature.

Looking east from the main house at Estancia Crysalis, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

And there is Chihuahua, and there are Sierra Madre foothills and there is...

It is a short, invigorating walk from Plaza de las Armas to Estancia Crysalis on paved road, the old El Camino Real. The slight incline, as you rise into rolling Sierra de Alamos foothills, stirs the minds and exercises the heart. The entrance to Estancia Crysalis is across the road from the El Mirador. The dirt road into Estancia Crysalis follows Arroyo Barranquita. Once on the ranch there is the Sierra Alamos, right there, in all her beauty, framed by 200 year old Mesquite trees.

Horse stalls at Estancia Crysalis, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

For the Arabians these were stalls for students these were shelter.

And so it was and so it is. Estancia Crysalis was formerly known as Rancho Las Crucecitas. The last owners of Rancho Las Crucecitas, Dr. Martin Dale Edwards and his wife Zora Tyler, raised a select herd of 22 purebred Arabians. These rustic stalls were the horses homes. Sharon Bernard is the current owner and changed the ranch name to Estancia Crysalis. A group of college students on a field trip from the USA stayed at Estancia Crysalis and used these stalls for lodging. And so it was and so it is.

A Ranch on the outskirts of town, looks forward to the future.
Estancia Crysalis, along the El Camino Real, is a mile southeast of the Plaza in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. The 175 acre ranch, on Sierra de Alamos sloping foothills, is focusing on a new day, and listening for opportunities floating on tropical breezes. Video…

The above video is from summer. The following video is spring. Estancia Crysalis experiences the seasons in all their dramatic changes. Life in Centro Alamos is dominated by man’s structures and gardens. Life on Estancia Crysalis is dominated by nature.

In another era, Estancia Crysalis was a working horse ranch.
Today, the spirits of these departed steeds, proud Arabians, are present, be it a sound of a branch breaking under weight or a small flurry of dust. Shut your eyes and listen, they are still here. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Mirador Kite Festival

101… On Mirador for the kite flying contest.

Kite festival in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Kite flying is a popular past times for the children of Alamos.

The winds of Álamos more come than go and when they are blowing kite flying takes place across the barrios. Sticks, paper, string are a child’s opportunity to take flight and be one with the elements. The child in all of us enjoys watching children enthralled with their kites dancing on a breeze.

Participants in the kite flying contest parade through the town on their way to and from El Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Many of the festival's colorful kites parade proudly through Alamos.

On the day of the festival kites, and their builders-owners, are seen on their way to and returning from El Mirador. Colorful pennants snapping in the winds on El Mirador announce to the people below that today celebrates a special event.

Kite flying participants atop El Mirador, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

This is the place to be: a windy day on top of the world with friends.

The kite flying contest was started by Cammie Nuzum and her then husband Chaco Valdez. These photos are from the 1996 festival. The recent 2012 contest was sponsored by Cammie and Elizabeth Nuzum. Kites were not always a place for children’s imaginations to soar. One of the first written records of kite flying is from around 200 B.C., Chinese General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty wanted to know how far his troops would need to tunnel to enter a rival city. He flew a kite to measure the distance. With this information in hand his army was able to surprise the enemy and capture the city.

Detrails of competing kites flying in the Alamos kite Festival with Earle and Joan Winderman watching, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  photos by Anders Tomlinson.

The kite festival is a colorful event to attend with all of Alamos at your feet.

Joan and Earle Winderman, that is a nice kite flying name, enjoyed a sunny day on El Mirador. Besides myself, they were the only gringos I saw at the festival. Whether one is flying a kite, or a spectator, everyone watches the kites.

Close-up of a festival kite's construction, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

It is colorful and well constructed but it will if fly with grace and agility.

The kites become what their builders want them to be. Days of design and construction lead up to contest. There is much to learn building a kite. Natural science, mathematics, aeronautics, history, culture, art and crafts come together as a flying objects and opportunities for self-expression.

Kite being presented to a judge for judging, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A kite awaits inspection by a judge. The event was organized by the Museo.

The Museo Costumbrista de Sonora displays the kites after the contest. For centuries kites were used by only by the military. Around the year 600, during the Silla Dynasty of Korea, General Gim Yu-sin’s troops refused to continue fighting because they has seen a shooting star and believed this was a bad omen. The General sent a fire ball into the sky with a large kite. The soldiers, seeing the star return to heaven, rallied and defeated the rebels.

Buddhist monks brought kites to Japan around the 7th century. They were thought to be able to protect rich harvests and deter evil spirits. During the Edo period kite flying became very popular when Japanese people below the samurai class were allowed to participate. The Edo (now Tokyo) government tried unsuccessfully to discourage this pastime as “too many people became unmindful of their work.”

Kite Festival in action, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Amongst all that is going on a flyer must keep his focus on his kite.

Álamos is a wonderful place to fly kites especially from El Mirador up high and open to the winds that carry molecules Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci and Marilyn Monroe breathed. There is a timeless quality to kite flying. It is as as much about the flyer’s thoughts as it is about flying.

Kite flying began in Asia and slowly word spread to Europe. Marco Polo, around the end of the 13th century, brought back to Europe stories of kite flying. Period Illustrations showed military banners with non-flying dragon kites. 16th and 17th century sailors brought kites back from Japan and Malaysia. Kites at first had little impact on European culture and were regarded as curiosities.

Flyers work their kites on a western wind, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Boys and their flying machines work winds off the Sea of Cortez.

Standing with their backs to the Sea of Cortez, the kite-flyers work the western on-shore winds and the drafts that come from the eastern Sierra Madre foothills.

As time marched on kites became universal and many used kites as scientific research tools.
In the 18th and 19th centuries men like Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Wilson learn more about the wind and weather used their knowledge of kite flying. Airplanes came about with the help of kite experiments by Sir George Caley, Samuel Langley, Lawrence Hargrave, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Wright Brothers.

A young boy flying his kite at the Alamos Kite Flying contest, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

And all the world, this very moment, is in his hands and in his control.

Here atop El Mirador the Sea of Cortez is some fifty miles to the west and the Copper Canyonlands are some fifty miles to the east. One could say the kite-flyer’s feet mark the center of the universe and their kites announce ownership of the moment.

Warmth Radiates off of Adobe Walls as Another Winter Day Begins.
Kite flying is popular in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. Drinking beer outside the pickup with friends is popular. Fun and work go on side by side as we visit a wood shop.

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Cornucopia

26 … Learning what, how, when and why all these plants and trees grow.

big purple flower , alamos, sonora, mexico garden.  photo by Anders Tomlinson.

As close as one looks there is always more to see

Gardening and passion are one in the same for many that embark on horticultural adventures in Alamos. There are right ways, wrong ways, and the ways of trial and error. There are friends, neighbors, hired help, books and the internet to help one plant, raise and blossom. It is about design, texture, color, creating and life itself.
It is better to have planted and lost than never planted at all.

Judith Jacoby gardens, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

There are gardens and there are gardens and there was the Jacoby gardens.

I took this photo of Judith Jacoby’s gardens in 1983 with Gaspar Vega standing amongst an explosion of spring blooms. This property was once a tequila factory warehouse owned by the Urrea family. The many Jacoby gardens start in court yards surrounding the house and spread out into large open areas. These are formal gardens set in a landscape that changes dramatically with the seasons. I will return to further explore her gardens in future posts. Gardens, in general, provide Alamos, hopefully, controlled splashes of color.

Garden walkway, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Gardens come in many colors, sizes, budgets, time commitments and intents.

The flora of Alamos is the many splendors of Sinaloan tropical forest and Sonoran desert living together in unexpected harmony. Many properties have gardeners watering, pruning, consulting, planting, cutting, raking, commiserating, trimming and… year round. Flowers and vegetables are planted in November for winter blooms and crops that last until May or June’s heat… Mangos, papayas, bananas, palms, amapas, orchidias and other trees provide food and shelter for native and migrating birds. Cascades of colors come from flowering vines: blue veracruzana, orange trumpet, red, magenta and orange bougainvilla and… And the smells and scents that envelope one’s senses… Formal, informal… it all contributes to this symphony and riot that is the passing seasons in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

Behold a Cornucopia of Color, Shapes, Textures and Scents.
Alamos has six seasons a year and a diversity of native and imported flora. Gardening is both a passion and industry. It can become all consuming. It can be an mental oasis, freedom from the outside world’s cares and concerns. And it is something to share with those who visit, be it bug, bird, mammal or human.

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A Way of Life
Gardens are places where we create new worlds, places of spirit or substance, or both… and more. Here we paint, design, experiment, learn, smell, admire, eat… Alamos, Sonora, Mexico is such a place, the valley itself is a garden where desert and dry tropical forest coexist.

Photos, editing and produced by Anders Tomlinson. Music is “Jardin de Colores”, written and performed by Samuel Delatorre Dorame, from his 2013 CD “Memorias de Alamos, Sonora.”

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La Aduana

The landscape of La Aduana has rebounded from the best and worst of man..

Street in La Aduana, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Downtown Aduana on a typical weekday morning. Remants of mining dot the hills.

Spanish conquistador Vasquez de Coronado camped here during the winter of 1540-41. He was searching for gold in what turned out to be mountains with veins of silver. The mines closed in 1906 after nearly 400 years of continuous mining. La Aduana was the “custom office”, it was all about taxes and royalties. Life was hard and short with the hazards of the mines and the chemicals used in the extraction process. The curse of quicksilver had a wide footprint.

Looking east at La Aduana, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Today, seven miles west of Alamos, Aduana is what it is.

Here seven miles west of Alamos, at 2,500 feet elevation with surrounding mountains as high as 4,700 feet, Aduana has less than 300 people where once there was 5,000. A church, country store, cemetery, a small restaurant-inn, a plaza with a dry fountain in its center surrounded by the past is Aduana today. And for some this is their home. And these are their hills with their months of desert and long summer of jungle.

Cooperativa Artesanos La Aduana, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The woman come out to show their wares when visitors arrive.

Located near the church is La Aduana Art & Crafts. This is a cooperative of local ladies, seen here, with their products. This photo was taken in 1997. I wonder what Aduana is like today. I know the dust is the same and radios and televisions sing and speak from isolated homes. But has the realities of 2011 arrived? While researching Aduana on the internet I was surprised to see alamos-sonora-mexico.com being quoted, some would say plagiarized, by others sites. Indeed, this is 2011. In the next wave of Alamos video editing – mid May, scenes from Aduana will be posted.

cactus in wall of la adauna church, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

A cactus grows out of a church wall and people come to pray.

This is not the London Bridge or the Grand Canyon but it is a quiet moment, in a now quiet town, that inspires those who believe.

burros drinking watr in la aduana, sonora, mexico.  photo by anders tomlinson.

Two generations gather for a drink at the local water hole - more puddle.

These burros could be descendants of working Aduana burros from the 1600’s. It was a hard life: grinding down ore in quicksilver or moving silver from the mines, to the Alamos treasury to Mexico City and back for another trip loaded with needed supplies.
Beasts of burden relax and calm La Aduana morning. Birds and insects fill the sky with sound. It is becoming warmer.
entrance to a mine in La Aduana, Sonora, Mexico.  photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Just think of all that took place deep within this silver mine. Think of the men. Think of how and why they are there. Think of their typical day. Think of where they laid down to sleep. Think of what they eat.

Here was Silver

Once this was a major silver mining town in all the world. Today, it is tucked away up in the hills with a quiet plaza and dry fountain. It is calm. Mining remnants dot the hillside. They are reminders of what was and what is.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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Maria Felix

23 … The view out this window has changed over the past century…

Old adobe ruin at Galeana 41, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

There was a day that this was the edge of town looking west towards wilderness.

1914 was in the middle of turbulent times for the region. Yaquis and Mayos were joining forces with Obregon and Villa’s armies. Venustiano Carranza became the third Mexican President in two years. One of them, Francisco Madero, was assassinated. Hard times were here. Maria de los Angeles Felix Guerrean was born April 8, 1914. This window looked out from her birth place. She had eleven sisters and brothers. They lived here until 1929 when they left for Guadalajara. Soon her beauty would be nationally recognized.

Galeana 41, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Gary Ruble.

An Alamos beauty walks down Calle Galeana in 1993. Photo by Gary Ruble.

This is where Maria Felix was born and raised, riding horseback in a land that was losing its mines. Her father was of Yaqui Indian blood and her Spanish blood mother was raised in a Pico Heights, California convent. Much of the beauty that is seen in the faces of Alamos is a product of interlocking bloodlines that span the globe. There are European, Asian, eastern Indian, Philippine and indigenous Indian features across town. Maria described herself as ” a woman with a man’s heart.” She was a commanding presence, a beautiful liberator, a woman beyond her times. She made 47 films in Mexico and France. She became internationally recognized. She published a bestselling autobiography in 1993, All My Wars. And this is where her life’s journey began..

Galeana 41, 1996, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Step forward in time, it is now September 1996, late afternoon.

Hurricane Fausto was the storm that leveled the walls. The window is gone. Galeana #41 is now a mother of all ruins. A passing carriage takes tourists around town. Tomorrow would be another day. In 1999, Lynda Barondes bought Galeana #41. She was to learn later that this was the birthplace of Maria Felix. In 2002, part of Lynda’s restoration efforts, a Museum opened here with three rooms dedicated to the spirit Maria Felix embodied. The Museum closed in 2012 as Lynda sold the property and moved to the nearby southern foothills overlooking Alamos.

Buckle-up as we take a super fast-rock n’ roll car ride through Alamos on a grey winter day.
Driving Across Alamos on an overcast December day starts at La Puerta Roja Inn. We head east and circle the Plaza de Las Armas before heading to the Panteon – Cemetery. We head back to La Puerta Roja exploring different routes. The best way to travel is walking. Video…

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©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

Funeral Day

86… There comes a moment when we all say goodbye…

Grave Digger in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico graveyard.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The Alamos cemetery provides an inspired and sacred work place.

There is always work for the grave diggers be it preparing the graves or maintaining the cemetery in a park-like setting for visitors and residents alike.

A fresh grave is being dug, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Another inhabitant will soon join those from the near and distant past.

Hours layer this grave will be occupied. Across town friends and family are preparing for a day all knew would come sooner or later. The earth gives way to the relentless pick.

The tombstone makers, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The maestro's assistant watches another tombstone in progress.

Tombstones are made outdoors across Arroyo La Barranca and Arroyo La Aduana at the foot of Cerro Compana. Words of love and respect are chiseled into stone as stone gives way to the persistent Maestro’s tools.

the body is arriving at Bishop Reye's Cathedral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A time of loss, mourning, memorializing and inner reflection.

The church is ready, the church is always ready. The body has arrived followed by those who wish to say farewell and share with others this sad moment of passing.

Carrying casket into Bishop Reyes' Cathedral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Church bells ring out as solemn friends and family approach.

For one the wait is over, for others it is an emotional weight that will slowly pass with time. Today a name will be spoken out loud, in months it will be recalled in mind and soul and whispered to no one but oneself and the universe.
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They proceed to the graveyard, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson..

After church services the procession across town begins as bells ring.

A mass leaves mass and the cobblestones of Alamos bear witness to another passing. There is a path from the church to the cemetery that has been worn smooth by loss and love.

Funeral procession approaches the cemetery, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A procession travels through Barrio La Compana as it nears the cemetery.

And they came in numbers day after day, year after year, century after century… it is what humans do. They walk, they talk, they cry and recall moments that were and plans that did not come to be… it is what humans do.

People arrived at the cemetery for the services, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson,

The procession has slowly made its way east from the church.

The fresh grave awaits, clouds line the morning horizon, crows chatter in surrounding trees and barrio dogs go about their barking as the sounds of daily Alamos life echoes off surrounding hills and mountains. For some, at this moment, their world has stopped amidst the world that goes on uninterrupted.

Procession through the cemetery, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The dead await a new arrival, passing feet kick up dust, little needs to be said.

People travel narrow pathways, cut flowers, in passing, brush against closely place tombs. The street-wide procession through town from church has become a solemn single rank slow marching to the grave.

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Summer Rains & Hurricanes

17 … And then the rains came and hope springs eternal…

Man watching flood waters. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

On this day Arroyo La Aduana does not encourage crossing.

Blusters from a hurricane passing over Alamos from the Sea of Cortez flooded the arroyos overnight. The town awoke to three avalanches of rushing water. Folks came to the water’s edge and marveled at the sound and fury of nature. And then some understood there are paradoxes embedded into natural orders of things; water, water everywhere – but not a drop to capture and command. Thankfully, gravity will ensure the surrounding aquifer receives a recharge.

Three flooded arroyos.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Alamos, for this moment, has become the three rivers city of Sonora.

The view from Mirador looking to the northwest was another side of Alamos rarely seen, the town’s eastern center surrounded on two sides by water. I believe this was the doings of Pacific Tropical Cyclone Fausto headed northeast for Texas. Nature, you have to live with it because you can’t live without it. Why isn’t this Planet Water instead of Planet Earth?

bike rider crossing flooded arroyo, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The storm passed, the sun came out and the waters began to recede.

When the arroyos recede they become passable on on foot, bike and vehicle. Children take to the water, it is now fun, a challenge they can conquer. This boy is crossing Arroyo La Aduanaa and headed towards the Missionaries of Fatima’s monastery.

An occasional summer storm floods three arroyos in Alamos with mountain runoff.
Summer is the rainy season and tropical storms, remnant of hurricanes, can come in from the Sea of Cortez to the west. This is the morning after a storm hit the region hard the previous evening.

Storms come and go. The summer rains are here, the sweet night air cools warm bodies bringing relief and contemplation. The purity and hope of laughing young couples, alone with each other, drenched to the bone, clinging wet clothes, make their way home late at night splashing and dancing in cobblestone puddles. Above, the heavens explode, a cannonade of thunder rumbles across silhouetted mountain ridges backlit by fantastic lightening. It is time to go to asleep under one sheet in the cool of a warm night.

The summer rains are here, the sweet night air cools warm bodies bringing relief and contemplation. The purity and hope of laughing young couples, alone with each other, drenched to the bone, clinging wet clothes, make their way home late at night splashing and dancing in cobblestone puddles. Above, the heavens explode, a cannonade of thunder rumbles across silhouetted mountain ridges backlit by fantastic lightening. It is time to go to asleep under one sheet in the cool of a warm night. And then the big storm, remnants of a tropical typhoon, arrived. In an instant the sky turned angry dark, the air became colder and a deafening wind shrieked through the trees. It rained and continuously howled from late afternoon until just before dawn. In the morning, stunned town folk came out and watched from a safe distance the fast running rivers that are normally dry arroyos. Over the coming days waters receded, children played in cool shallow pools and rock men filled their trucks with fresh sand. Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson.
Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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Another Day, Another Age

Somewhere in the mountain Indian’s timeless spell, framed by stately 18th century Spanish architecture, and peppered with modern electronic gadgetry is a small quiet town whose women are beautiful and men handsome. This Shangri-La, at the very end of paved road leading from the west, is Alamos Sonora, Mexico.

The sun has risen from behind these forbiding ridges, the silence is deafening.

From here, looking east, one’s imagination is stirred by the forbidding, virtually impenetrable
Sierra Madre Occidentals. This is the legendary “Mother Range” protecting Mexico’s great central plateau. Behold ridge after volcanic ridge, separated by deep narrow canyons, marching on for a hundred miles, and climbing to ten thousand feet where giant hawks and eagles soar. The monumental silence is all powerful. Time is reduced to mere sand, worn off of towering rock faces and airborne on the wind. These endless ridges conjure up stark silhouettes of reclining warriors, upon whose barren stomachs humble life persists. Over the horizon, to the southwest, is the famous Copper Canyon region.

Summer time is vibrant as surrounding foothills come alive with green growth.

The eye continues to sweep the horizon and returns, as it always does, to the cathedral’s classically proportioned three-tiered belfry announcing civilization on the half hour.
Past, present and future comes together, in a special way, as one walks down hand swept cobblestone streets listening to laughing children behind bougainvillea-crowned walls.
Here, is the eternal blue sky that is Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

©2010 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

El Pedregal

99… Elizabeth’s experimental place – garden, El Pedregal… first of two parts…

Big Fig tree at the Pedregal, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

In a magnificent setting there is this fig tree to admire and celebrate.

Pember and Elizabeth Nuzum owned a lot off a dirt road in the Chaleton area, place of the fig trees, west of Alamos. They planned to built a tennis court on it. One day Elizabeth traveled further west on the road and came across this fig tree. It was love at first site. She coaxed Pember into selling their lot, and it sold unexpectedly quickly. Elizabeth, on her own, purchased the undeveloped three acres with the fig tree from Martha and Al Haywood. Elizabeth christen the property El Pedregal, the stoney place. This was her project, her experimental place to build and plant what she wanted. It was her dream to bring art, community and nature together under the out-stretched limbs of a magnificent fig tree.

El Pedregal's front gate, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth loved her big green door that was El Pedregal's entrance.

The first thing Elizabeth did at El Pedregal was build a meandering road leading through and around the property to the fig tree. The heavy green gates at Pedregal’s entrance, where the public dirt road comes to its end, were made from old doors Elizabeth collected in town. She had put them together by Nemecio Figueroa in his family’s carpenter shop on the way to the Panteon, cemetery, at the eastern edge of town. Behind these green gates there were, and are, worlds of natural wonder. The seasons pass as birds, insects and mammals come and go.

A straw-bale studio

A small group gather outside the strawbale house built by Elizabeth Nuzum on El Pedregal, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Elizabeth Nuzum wanted to build a straw-bale house in Alamos. She did.

Elizabeth had read the book Out on a Limb by Peter and Victoria Nelson. It was about tree houses and other construction such as straw-bale houses. Elizabeth decided she wanted to build a straw-bale in her garden of experiments. She contacted the Nelsons as they were preparing to visit Russia and demonstrate straw-bale technology. They recommended that she talk to the authors of The Straw-Bale House, Bill and Athena Steen. Elizabeth felt it was important to build a straw-bale structure as an example of what could be a relatively inexpensive home concept for Mexico. Unable to have an expert come down to build the straw-bale studio she relied on the Steen’s book and hired her son-in-law Chacho Valdez and his brothers to start the project. Chacho would build the basic structure: roof, walls and an unfinished floor.

A palapa for all seasons and reasons

Looking from the south at the Pedregal's Palapa and the Straw bale studio in the background, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The Palapa was the first structure built at El Pedregal. It was a work office.

Before the Straw-bale studio was started Elizabeth and Chacho took a stick and scribed out a large circle as the palapa’s floor-plan. Her intent was to have a place where people could socialize and admire the fig tree. She wanted it to have two entrances and no center pole. Chacho said it could be done and he went about construction.

The amazing hand-woven palapa roof took a crew five months to put together as they had to wait for after full moons to collect the palapa leaves. As work continued on the property the fig tree was host to shamanic dances, earth renewal ceremonies, sweat lodges, barbecues, coffee parties, art classes and…

Chacho Valdez, man of mystery

Chacho Valdez, builder of the Pedregal's palapa, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photos By Anders Tomlinson.

Chaco Valdez, renaissance man, making a spiritual point and jump starting a car.

Chacho Valdez stands in front of his new home under construction, Alamos Sonora Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

I always thought of Chacho as a rock n’ roll medicine man. He looked like a pirate with long flowing hair and beard, bandanas and hats. One day Chaco looked at me with one eye somewhere else and stated, ”if you stare at a cloud long enough it will disappear…” This is an anthem-theme that I use whenever I speak of Alamos.

Chacho and Cammie, his former wife, were instrumental in creating the Children’s Kite Festival held in the spring. Chacho, a bit of a mischievous child himself, loved children. He also loved to sing in his big booming voice. The last time I saw Chacho he was building a circular two-story house on the well-traveled entrance road up to the top of El Mirador. The site doesn’t seem like it would be conducive for privacy during park visiting hours but, my oh my, what a magnificent awe-inspiring view! …

98… Returning to El Pedregal’s ever-present spirit… second of two parts…

Drinking beer in the late afternoon outside El Pedregal"s strawbale house, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Here is a place to come together and be a warm late afternoon dream.

Liliana Carosso, on the right, and Ginny Brown, along with an unidentified woman in the middle, enjoy a natural moment. Lilliana is a prominent Alamos real estate agent. Here, one is in another world. Time loses importance and nature, and a couple of beers, encourages relaxed deep breathing.

Kit Nuzum returns to Alamos

Pedregal under construction, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

From dirt and straw and other natural elements a large studio is born

Elizabeth’s son, Kit, returned from one of his many global travels and took over the task of finishing the straw-bale studio. He also managed the digging of a well at the spot chosen by a water dowser. A solar pump was installed and irrigation began with water from beneath El Pedregal”s surface. Elizabeth purchased indigenous and rare trees and plants. And as the nature is for these parts some took, and some didn’t as any Alamos gardner has experienced.

Elizabeth Nuzum and her son Kit with the construction team and the Friedlobs, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Most of construction team and advisors gather around Elizabeth Nuzum.

Kit had no prior working knowledge of straw-bale construction and “just went for it” with the help of Chone, a cousin of Chacho. They poured an earthen adobe floor with the help of Steve Frielobs. The windows were made by Angel Rosas. The adobe interior walls that made the kitchen and bathroom was there but unfinished. Kit and Chone, along with several others, finished the walls and the loft decking as well as the grand stair case, designed by Alamos resident Irmine Stelzner, with wood from the old Boors monastery on the southwest corner of the Plaza. The original douglas fir came by train from Oregon in 1910. Irmine’s husband Allen Stelzner designed and made the iron latch on the front door.

Creating color pigment from nearby hills

Finished exterior of the straw bale studio at El Pedregal, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

The finished exterior blended in with the surroundings.

Elizabeth’s straw-bale studio was originally painted with a palette of colors made from dirt in the surrounding hills. The soil that would be used to make the paint came from a spot that was along a long walk that Chacho took me on the last day of my first visit to Alamos. Chacho said it was a local custom. As we were returning to Alamos I asked Chacho if the earth was purple and he nodded yes. In this one area there was literally a rainbow of dirt. Fifteen years later, Kit and I, along with a couple of assistants and a wheel barrow, set off to find this magical place. We found it not far from El Pedregal along with shards of am old pottery. The work crew spent the morning gathering earthen colors from the area as I filmed. Later, Kit mixed the earth-toned dirts – pale green, red, blue, green, ivory, white and lavender with prickly pear and agave goo called baba. The solution sat for a week before glue was added and wiped onto the interior walls: home made paint.

Later, author Paul Molyneaux, seeking a quiet harbor from his noisy young children, finished his book The Doryman’s Reflection, a Fisherman’s Life in the serene straw-bale studio. Tony Estrada, director of the Museo de Costumbrista and artist, sculpted a centaur for Elizabeth that was placed beneath the fig tree.

View of Tecolote Hill from El Pedegral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The morning begins with seeing where we will be in a couple of hours.

On this summer day in 1996 I would go on a hike with Chacho, his young son Sereno, his girlfriend and Chone to the top of Tecolete Hill, seen here sun-capped. Sierra de Alamos rises up in the background. We would leave from El Pedregal at sunrise and be atop Tecolote Hill in a couple of hours. This turn out to be a day of exercise and aroma therapy in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

El Pedregal today

Elizabeth sold El Pedregal to Jennifer and David MacKay in 2005. They added another 17 acres to what is now El Pedregal Nature Lodge and Retreat Center. They have also upgraded the infrastructure and added a couple of casitas. Today, they offer lodging, nature tours, sunday brunches and yoga lessons amongst many other activities that they are involved with.

Bird bath at El Pedregal, Alamos Sonora, Mexico

Elizabeth's intent was to have both a nature preserve and artist studio

I recently enjoyed watching David Wilson’s Big Birding Day on PBS’ POV, point-of- view, series. The 2011 12-minute film features David Mckay as a birding guide for several birders intent on a big birding day. The film documents the world of competitive bird watching where one tries to see, or hear, as many bird species as one can in 24 hours. The opening scene takes place under the Pedregal’s palapa as they prepared for a day of ambitious adventure. I was struck by David’s curiosity and connection to his environment.

I had spent nine years filming wildlife on the Tulelake, Lower Klamath, Clear Lake, Upper Klamath Lake and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuges along the California-Oregon border. If David had come and spent a couple of days in the field with me he would have had a wonderful time. And I am equally sure I would enjoy spending a couple of days with David Mckay in Alamos and surrounding habitats. Both of these regions are known for diversity of flora and fauna, especially numbers of bird species. There are birds that visit both Alamos and Tulelake on their yearly migrations.

Elizabeth Nuzum placed this bird bath on Pedregal’s giving ground for her small friends to use, just as she built the straw-bale studio and palapa for friends to visit with friends, even if it is only communing with one’s self, alone.

This entry was aided by notes from Elizabeth Nuzum, Kit Nuzum and Joan Winderman.

©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.