Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Tahumara Girl Haunts me Still

There is a place in the Copper Canyon where the tourists once travelled to see a beautiful waterfall. I don't know, but it is unlikely that anyone goes there now. The drug cartels have made it a dangerous place.

In January 2009 my friend Gil and drove from the city of Chihuahua to the small town of Creel. I had been warned it was a dangerous trip. Not long before, at a wedding social, there had been a mass killing in Creel. When Gil and I were there the Mexican Federal Police occupied an entire hotel. There were few foreigners.

Ladders take the Tahumara
cliff dwellers up to where tourists
might be found
We found a guide. They were easy to find. Hungry for business. Our guide told us of the waterfall and the people who lived in the cliffs below. A primitive ladder connected the cliff dwellers to the outside world. Every day the women climbed the ladder, lugging, likely on their heads, embroidered handcrafts hoping to find tourists at the top willing to purchase their wares.

As Gil and I walked through the forest, we happened upon a young girl had who had set-up a bevy of goods upon a blanket. I did not want to make a purchase, in those days I still lived with the misbegotten belief that I could live out of a suitcase. However, I gave her a little money and asked if she went to school. When she told me that she did, I told her school was the most important thing she could do for herself.

Gil and I continued our walk along the trail; we had seen the waterfall and were on our way to meet up our guide, who was waiting for us at the trailhead, where the road ended.  As we walk, the girl followed. I'm quite sure she wanted me to take her home. Her poignant image haunts me still.

I'm reading Ashley Judd's memoir All that is Bitter and Sweet. She writes of two young Indian girls, sisters, Neelam and Komal, who ask to be adopted. The reading of this part of Ms Judd's memoir reminded me of the Tahumara girl. I'm more convinced than ever that she wanted me to take her home.

No comments: