72… Forces of change challenge human nature at every turn…
Part One of Three on an Eternal Debate.

Summer vegetation in the surrounding hills, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

In days of old, man moved by foot paths through sparsely populated lands.

There was a time and a day that Indigenous people, speaking one of 18 Cahita dialects, were those who knew this land as their own. They numbered 115,000, the largest Indian group in Northern Mexico, and lived along the lower reaches of the Sinaloa, Fuerte, Mayo and Yaqui rivers. The Spanish called these agriculturalist Indians, spread out across the region in small groups, “rancheria people”. They had come from Asia, and possibly Europe, thousands of years ago. We know that those that came from these distant places were in turn descendants of those who started the great human migrations out of Africa and the Middle-east. There is truth in the belief that we are all, under the sun, brothers and sisters. Various cultures and traditions, if they helped people survive, will be adopted by others. This is a hallmark of human nature – adaptability.

Columns and window details, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson

End of day's sun illuminates a classical column of another time and land.

One day the sun came up and menacing rattles of Spanish Conquistador swords, moving fast on old Indian trails, grew louder. December of 1529, Nuno Beltran de Guzman, once a lawyer, led an army of 500 Spanish and 10,000 Tlaxcalans, Aztecs and Tarascans into Sinaloa. March of 1531, Guzman defeated 30,000 Indians in present day Culiacan. Many that survived were captured and enslaved. Later, Guzman’s Amerindian army was wiped out by epidemics and hunger. His was a reign of terror. Spanish colonialization was approaching Alamos.

And then Silver was discovered near Alamos. And the world was attracted by the riches:
miners from Europe, merchants from India, silk makers from Japan, coin makers from China, Philippine sailors and to work the mines: African slaves, local Indigenous people, free mulatos and Indians from other parts of Mexico. Globalization arrived in Alamos.

And the riches brought in the finest goods from around the world. An international settlement was growing along the arroyos. Cultures and traditions blended together as did the people. Apexes of personal consumption were reached by those who could pay the price. The poor observed the rich and knew they were the human engines that made the rich richer. Lessons on modern times were there to be learned and mastered, the art of supply and demand was at hand. Consumerism flourished in Alamos.

Column and shadow on Calle Comercio, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson

The shadow of Southern Spain spread across Alamos and the Southwest.

Alamos became a valuable resource to fund California coastal settlements along with emerging political movements – militias throughout Sonora and Sinaloa. Alamos was now helping export traditions and customs that not long ago had arrived here.

And then, things change like things do. Much of the International mining community left Alamos for gold and silver discovered in Central California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. Miners come and go to where there is buried treasure and international prices high enough to make mining profitable. Alamos experienced economic fluctuations that is the nature of mining boom towns. Many of these become ghosts towns and others continue on. Some Alamos families faithfully remained and made their livings amongst the aging architecture in a village that was a reduced footprint of its former self. The world had touched them. It could be seen in the art, furniture, books, and music left here and there, and so it was and so it is. Alamos was one of the mining towns that accepted, adapted and continued on. Over the next hundred years Alamos had a couple of small economic upturns and several longer downturns that turned into dust covering ruins of once grand mansions. The silver boom and busts had come and gone.

View from Above

Mt. Alamos is some 6,500 feet above sea level. It towers 5,000 feet above the town of Alamos. 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.

The Streets of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico become Another Time in Another Place.

Easter week in Álamos is a special Spirit. Viernas de los Delores is celebrated on Good Friday. Decorated altars are displayed in windows and doorways throughout town. In the evening people stroll the streets viewing these commemorations of Christ”s suffering. In this segment we join a reenactment of the Crucifixion through the streets of Álamos to Guadalupe Hill.

Here was Silver

Here, seven miles west of Álamos, at 2,500 feet elevation with surrounding mountains as high as 4,700 feet, Aduana has a few hundred 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 are surrounded by the past. 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.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

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