10 August 2011

Back Where I Belong Again

At this point I have completely given myself over to my own fascination with the old mining town of Mineral de Pozos, which is a little over an hour's drive from my home here. It is something akin to Oscar Wilde's adage that the best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it. By my count this is the sixth time that I have put up photos of either the town or the abandoned mining complexes in the vicinity.

At the height of its glory Mineral de Pozos was a city with a population of 40,000. Today a little over 1,000 people live there. Consequently, the city itself consists for the most part of abandoned structures with buildings that are now inhabited sprinkled amid those. The city sits at 7,500 feet above sea level.

The Spanish started mining operations in the environs in 1578. Or was it 1568? I cannot remember. Mining on a large scale was being done there in the late 1800's, which all went up in smoke during the Revolution of 1910. Manpower, capital, spare parts for mining machinery disappeared. The mines flooded. Some minor mining operations continued into the 1930's, but nothing to speak of.

The place is preternaturally rich in minerals. Silver, gold, copper, lead, magnesium, mercury, and other minerals were taken out of the ground there at different times and at significant human cost. There is blood on the mountains there, my friends. And blood in the mountains.

Without a vehicle one must change buses three times in order to get there. That trip would take about three hours. It therefore feels blessedly tourist free. I have never been there when I did not have my favorite mining complex completely and entirely to myself and whoever is with me. Me, a tourist. On Tuesday Michel and I hauled our cameras to Mineral de Pozos. Again, he and I were alone among the mines.

At my favorite site one initially encounters a large, elaborate, intricate complex of buildings and installation after paying 10 pesos to the old gate keeper whose ancestors were miners. (No photographs of that large complex today.) Then one can crawl through the barbed wire fence surrounding that and hike about a kilometer to a little assembly of buildings on the side of the mountain, perhaps the place in the world that I most love now.

There is obviously no secret about what I do with these photos. I sharpen the raw photos to the point of painfulness. Then I super saturate the colors. This may be stepping over the line from digital photography into so-called “digital art.” However, it is only by doing this that I can approximate what I myself see out there. Click on any photograph that might interest you for a larger version.

The site is peppered with mine shafts. One of the delights of Mexico for me is the freedom from feeling constantly swaddled in a paternalistic concern for my safety. Nobody gives a shit about that here. There are no barriers around any of these shafts. No signs even. The tacit attitude seems to be, "You are completely free to fall in a hole if you wish, dumb ass." I love that. One would have to be crazy to take a child out there. Although, I suppose if one were feeling child-ridden, that would be one way to alleviate the problem.

Which is a good reason not to hike out there alone. I am not sure exactly what I would expect Michel to do for me, however, if I fell into one of these shafts. Still, there are worse ways to go. And worse places for my mortal remains to spend eternity. I am rich in magnesium after all. I did lose my one gold filing years ago unfortunately.

The following are an assortment of interior shots taken in the buildings of that remote site.

A year ago dianaani took one of my earlier photographs of that remnant stenciled wall decor and with her amazing equipment made a large print. She then sent it to me. It is one of my treasured positions and sits in a place of honor here in the loft. I will be forever grateful to her for that.

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