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.

Álamos Food Moments

During the Christmas – New Year holiday of 1992-93 a Film Crew departed San Diego
for Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. All of the crew had a relationship with the comedy,
music and travel program KBCH RadioTV which was produced in Del Mar, California.

This is the crew that captured Alamos Christmas 1992 and their hosts the Nuzums.

From left to right: Chaco Valdez, painting of Christina Vega by Jim Wilson, Anders Tomlinson,
Gary Ruble, Donna Beckett, R. L. Harrington, Robert Ganey, and the Nuzums: Jolene, Kit,
Elizabeth and Pember. At this moment they were all together and thankful.

The only woman on the crew was Donna Beckett who is amongst many things
a musician, entertainer and author of 3 cookbooks including Donna’s Favorite Recipes
of fabulous vegetarian recipes. On this trip she began a journal and here is an excerpt:

Journal of food December 1992 – 1993

I like to eat light on the road. The eight hours in the car: I carry
water, nuts, apples, bananas, fig cookies and crackers. Our first stop is
Tucson, Arizona. It helps to let all people know you are vegetarian because
while others ate: Chorizo pork I had yellow squash, zucchini, peppers,
onions, garlic in a tomato sauce rolled up in a flour tortilla.
While visiting the Tucson folks and touring the National Monument I ate
this vegetable dish for breakfast and dinner.

Puerta Roja, the Red Door, was home for a majority of the crew during their 1992 -93 Holiady film shhot in Álamos, Sonora, México. Photo by Anders Tomlinson..

La Puerta Roja Inn, Red Door, Inn was home for a majority of the crew.


Upon reaching Álamos our hostess Teri Arnold, owner of La Puerta Roja, prepared pasta
with both a meat sauce and tomato sauce. This vegetarian sauce consists of
garlic, onions and mushrooms. Wonderful with baguettes and sliced tomatoes,
sprinkled with olive oil, vinegar tamari and fresh basil leaves.

On day two we took a long hike around the city drank two glasses of water,
dried figs, and prunes and a banana with trail mix.

For dinner we went to a local woman’s unmarked restaurant where she had outdoor
dining. We had tostadas consisting of homemade tortillas vegetarian beans,
avocado, dried cheese, lettuce, tomato and topped with green tomatillo sauce.
Late-night we had papaya, pineapple juice.

It is very hot in Álamos, Sonora, México in December, so it is important to
remember to drink lots of water. We also took multiple vitamins. Afternoon hiking
took us to the mercado where fruits and vegetables abound. Afternoon snack
of prunes. Christmas eve, Teri fixed us a wonderful breakfast of cornmeal
pancakes with scrambled eggs. The pancakes were topped with cranberry sauce
sweetened with maple syrup. Scones seasoned with ginger were an
added surprise with her coffee.

In the afternoon we went to La Aduana to the miracle church where a cactus
grows out of the old church where the Virgin Mary appeared.

One day we took food out to a poor family in the mountains. There were 5 children
and three adults: mom, dad and grandpa in a small hut with a roof of twigs and cardboard
and a little metal sheeting on one side where the wind blows the hardest. I gave
the teenage girl the little blue and white shirt I was wearing. Her father gave
me two pieces of fruit from their tiny tree. The fruit is green and spiny and
cannot be eaten until it rattles when shaken. Very strange looking, it’s hard
to believe anyone would try to eat such an uninviting object. But there wasn’t
much food to be seen on their land and the well had only a foot of water in it
at the most. I ate an avocado and a roll and came back to join the team in a night
shoot in Aduana. They’ve set up a huge pipe organ upon our return, I grabbed the
leftover rice and veggies, and can of vegetarian chili- stirred and
served on a hot corn tortilla.

New Year’s Eve we started the day with water and later coffee. The Nuzums, at
Calle Comercio 2 next door to the Church, roast their own Mexican coffee beans
sprinkled with sugar. They grind them to make a very strong solution of coffee,
of which they pour ¼ cup and then add hot boiling water to make one cup. This coffee
is so good. I drank it black. It is strong, but never bitter. Off to shopping
and later stopped for a fresh squeezed orange juice. At the Mercado, we picked
up a ripe tomato and an avocado. At the bakery I bought negro pan brown
bread rolls and ginger cookies.

In the evening. I just want to relax and listen to the Mexican music coming
from the big dance downtown. There is music to be heard throughout the
city, day and night. Lovely.

Donna Beckett copyright 2017

Teresita's Panaderia y Bistro outdoor dining patio. photo by Anders Tomlinson, 2017.  Álamos, Sonora, México.

Teresita’s Panaderia y Bistro outdoor dining patio.

Teri Arnold has continued her fine tradition of gourmet cooking. The studio in the
back of Puerta Roja where the film crew stayed in 1992 is now home to
Teresita’s Panaderia y Bistro which has an inviting ambiance that is
enjoyed by Álamenses as well as tourists from all over México and the world.

For more Holiday Videos filmed on this trip.

©2017 alamos-sonora-mexico.com and Donna Beckett, 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.

To see more Alamos Journal pages.

To return Home.

©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

For more about Elizabeth Nuzum

To see more Alamos Journal pages.

To return Home.

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

Elizabeth Nuzum

Elizabeth Nuzum flanked by two men in her life, Kit Nuzum and Pember Nuzum.  photo by gary ruble.  1993.  alamos sonora mexico..

Elizabeth Nuzum flanked by two men in her life, Kit and Pember.

Elizabeth Nuzum was the first person I met after waking up in Calle Comercio 2 after a 900 mile car-with her son Kit Nuzum and his girl friend. Elizabeth was in the kitchen along with her helper Alba. I introduced myself, Anders Tomlinson, and she asked what my full name was. I replied Anders Paul Tomlinson. She looked into my eyes and said that would be a wonderful name for a writer. I was one of many, more likely a multitude, that were greeted, and complimented, by Elizabeth on their arrival to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.

elizabeth nuzum in college.  photo supplied by cammie nuzum

Elizabeth enjoying her California college coed days. Photo courtesy – Cammie Nuzum

Elizabeth passed away June 18, 2014 at the age of 93 in Tuczon, Arizona. Her life began in Manila, the Philippines. Her early years were spent in China and Japan. She met, and married, Pember Nuzum while attending Scripps College in Claremont, CA. It was a life of big pictures, details, friends, helpers and those she helped. She was a flower that opened up, blooming every day, to the world.

Elizabeth and Pember Nuzum on their wedding day.  photo supplied by cammie nuzum

Elizabeth and Pember Nuzum on their wedding day. Photo courtesy – Cammie Nuzum

Pember and Elizabeth were part of the fabric that is Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. At times, they had a hand in selecting materials and tailoring of this social fabric. They were colorful, as big as life and up to the countless challenges that comes with building a home in another land rich with history, tradition and culture.

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

Elizabeth at her greeting table. Photo – Joan Gould Winderman

I appreciate Pember and Elizabeth’s kindness which helped me develop the project that is reflected by the website you are currently visiting. Here are a couple of articles that featured Elizabeth.

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.

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.

This is the crew that captured Alamos-Christmas-1993 and our hosts the Nuzums.

A film crew embraced by the Nuzums’ hospitality
From left to right: Chaco Valdez, painting of Christina Vega by Jim Wison, Anders Tomlinson,
Gary Ruble, Donna Beckett, R. L. Harrington, Robert Ganey, and the Nuzums: Jolene, Kit,
Elizabeth and Pember. At this moment we were all together and thankful. This is an example
of the Nuzums reaching out to others and their love for Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.

To see Elizabeth and Pember’s Alamos home visit Calle Comercio 2

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