24 October 2011

The Mines at Pozos

[The following entry is a repost of an entry relating to a trip to Mineral de Pozos that Fred and I made in March 2010.]

Today was a day for another hike. Fred and I drove back to Mineral de Pozos, the colonial mining town about an hour's drive from here. We explored the abandoned mining complex there. The admission was 10 pesos each ($0.79 American; €0.58; and $0.81 Canadian.). A lot of bang for the buck as it turned out, although you already know how much I love ruins.

About the camera again. I continue to struggle with the exposures here. (I must keep in mind that it is only a $350.00 camera after all.) It has come down to this. One cannot let the camera do anything at all automatically out there. The camera is built for moderate conditions. On automatic it will take wonderful pictures of the family around the Christmas tree. But out there in the dessert with the light colors and the intensity of the light, it will continually overexpose even if you use the preset in the automatic mode for “Beach,” for example. I am slowly finding the right manual settings to get that under control.

To make matters trickier, I cannot check the images as I go because it is so bright out there that I cannot see them in the view finder. Just like the old days with a 35 mm film camera and light meter--setting f stops, shutter speed, bracketing exposures, and all that crap, and then wait for the film to be developed to see how you did. I am not there yet, but still, I am getting there, or at least to the best there there is to get to.

Here a little north and west of Mexico City we are in the heart of what was the best mining country in the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain, which was comprised mostly of what is now Mexico and the territory that the United States and the Republic of Texas took from the nation of Mexico. The other big mining area in Spanish colonial times was in the Potosí region in the Viceroyalty of Peru.

The mining operation was carried on here at Pozos from the 1500's into the late 1800's, that is, from Spanish colonial times through the early years of independence. The area yielded both gold and silver and some mercury, which was used in the process of extracting silver from the ore. There are several complexes of buildings around the side of a mountain. I have thrown up a couple of scope shots above, but it is impossible for me to provide big photos that give any sense of the place. Therefore, I have determined to put up only some photos of this or that interesting looking detail without much further explanation.

This is one of the mine shafts. These mine shafts go straight down. . .and down.

Another mine shaft.

During Spanish colonial times, some operations dropped Indians into these mines to work. The Spanish would lower food down the shaft to the Indians in return for ore. If the Indians did not send up ore, no food came down to them. Some Indians spent the rest of their lives at the bottom of these shafts, lives that were probably blessedly short.

The roofs were made of wood and are of course all long gone. However, I want to take you into those buildings to show you something that fascinated me.

Some of the pigment of the wall decorations survives. I am afraid that you will have to click on some of these pictures in order to see what I am talking about.

You can see the remnants of a stencil pattern on this wall, for example.

Fred has corrected me. Fred is now a tour guide at El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve. I have been referring to this as "high desert." High desert is technically what you would find around Las Vegas, for example. This is semi-arid, which basically means that more plant species can survive in it. So anyway. . .

Here is a Century Plant in the high semi-arid.

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