The Silver Route across the Sierra Madre

Pilar Pedersen (59) loves horses and loves Mexico. A resident of Alpine, Texas, she works as a court interpreter and is a partner in a nearby ranch. She combines her two loves by riding the historic Silver Route across Chihuahua’s Sierra Madre. This 240-mile route leads from the mining town of Batopilas, at the bottom of a deep canyon, over the mountain range to Chihuahua City, the state capital. The silver from the highly profitable mine was carried by a heavily guarded mule train from the Batopilas mine to the bank in the state capital.After 30 years, the mining operation ceased around 1915.

The tourism authorites in Chihuahua decided to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the route by staging a reenactment, down to simulated silver bars, exact replicas of the carts which carried the silver across the plains,and Mexicans acting as mule handlers, wearing traditional white clothing. The first ride (cabalgata) took place in 2008.

There have been five reenactments, and Pilar has participated in all of them, and completed three. Each trip requires riding for 20 miles a day for 13 days, in any weather, sleeping on the ground and eating camp meals, along with around 20 Mexicans including two women. She was the only American woman on each trip.

Pilar also has devoted considerable time in helping the indigenous Tarahumara, who live in the sierra. Continuing serious drought has put their lives at risk. Pilar raised funds and with that money bought corn and transported it to remote Tarahumara villages.

For a complete account, with 40 pictures, of Pilar’s extraordinary ride across the sierra, go tohttp://www.thesilverroute.blogspot.com

 

 Giving in the Sierra

The Tarahumara, or, as they refer to themselves, Rarámuri, have a tradition which is summed up in one word:  Korima.  Korima is an expression of sharing on a communal level.  Akin to a redistribution of resources, it is giving which keeps the giver from feeling superior and allows the receiver to maintain dignity.   When I have been in the Sierra distributing corn and beans, the reaction by those living at the very brink of the unfathomable has allowed me a fleeting feeling of closeness to the shy and reticent Rarámuri.  My heart has been pierced by their warmth and gratitude.

The extreme temperatures and drought of 2011, followed by late rains and insect infestations of 2012 created suffering in the Sierra Tarahumara.  For reasons which are still a bit mysterious to me, I was called upon to ask for and then to receive donations from scores of people in the United States whose hearts opened when they heard of the Rarámuris’ needs.  It has been humbling to be the conduit for so much giving.

And it continues!  Winter is a challenging time for these people who stake their survival on planting fields on impossible slopes high in the Sierra Madre Occidental, and live as their forbearers did with very few changes.  They are weathered, fleet of foot, illusive to outsiders, and conform to a code and culture which is ancient.  The harvest was marginal last year and there is no safety net.

I was fortunate to receive enough money to travel to Batopilas, Chihuahua, where, with the help of friends and the municipal government, I purchased 10 tons of corn (maize) and distributed it in remote villages in that region.  That occurred last January – 2012 – and again in October (2.5 tons).  In between I have been able to send contributions to the Cuauhtémoc Food Bank (BAC), to assist in their ongoing efforts to keep the Rarámuri of the Sierra from suffering hunger.

If, reading this, you are prompted to learn more, or would like to contribute, please contact me: Pilar Pedersen  pilar.pedersen@gmail.com

Links:

San Antonio newspaper article on Tarahumara plight

Article by Pilar Pedersen

 

 

 

 

Jim Glendinning About Jim Glendinning

I am a Footloose Scot who has traveled to 136 countries. "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." Robert Louis Stevenson
Read about Jim Glendinning and his book Footloose Scot: Travels In A Time Of Change

Comments

  1. Pilar Pedersen says:

    Bravo! What an impressive site you’ve created. I’m sure that you will attract a following. Glad the pictures worked, and honored to be included. Keep it coming!
    Fondly,
    Pilar

    • Jim Glendinning Jim Glendinning says:

      Thank you, happy to help with your invaluable project to promote Copper Canyon and aid the Tarahumara.

  2. sonia estrada says:

    Dear Jim and Pilar: thank you very much for all of your efforts in promoting our beautiful culture and destination. May God Bless you. Let’s have a fantastic 2013.

  3. Paul Palmer says:

    I worked at the U.S. Consulate General – Juarez from 1991 through 1993 and helped Rick Fischer raise money for the Raramuri and bring some Raramuri over to start running in the Leadville 100 ultra-marathon. I read the book about their experience coming to the U.S. and could not recognize the portrait of Rick the author put forth. Do you ever work with him?

    • Jim Glendinning Jim Glendinning says:

      No, I never met him – unfortunately.

      We corresponded a little a few years back about a book, which come to nothing.

      To my knowledge, he’s now in Asia, doing stuff in the Himalayas.

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