A Night At Hotel Japones
( Originally Published Early 1911 )
A Night at Hotel Japones: Fear of a Storm: An Early Start: A Mountain Rancho: Mountain Hospitality: Recreant Mules: Forlorn Indian Family: Charm of Mountain Travel: The Last Descent: "El Capitan": Manuel Sings as the Journey Ends: Magnolias: A Meeting With Bob: Home Again: The Holidays at the Mines: Serenade and Midnight Mass: The First Wheelbarrow: Christmas Dinner: A Mexican Ball: The Bandit Eracleo Bernal.
FROM the first rainy day, we had glorious weather; and Manuel said many times, " God favors us in the weather, senor." The previous night when I fell asleep it was bright starlight and the moon was just coming up. I awoke at two o'clock to find the sky overcast, and an ominous ring around the moon. At this season, rain in the low country is apt to mean snow in the mountains; and then one who does not know the trail is likely to go astray. The fire was smoldering and as Manuel was sleeping heavily, I got up and threw on a log, determining to let him sleep till three o'clock. When the hour was up I called him. He gave one glance at the sky and with a low " a Dios! " started off in search of the mules. Soon I heard them come thudding along: he had hobbled them all, and they hopped up to the fire and stood regarding it, like large, sad-eyed rabbits. Manuel gave them their corn and then began getting breakfast. In spite of the lowering sky and the prospect of a long, hard ride, there was a fascination in it all: the blazing fire, the towering rocks and pine trees, the animals feeding, and Manuel brewing a fragrant pot of coffee. Beyond the ring of fire-light, the dark forest, and probably not another soul within a radius of fifty miles!
When at last the mules were ready there was no sign of daylight. Manuel tied the two pack-animals together and struck off into the darkness, leading the foremost one. I brought up the rear, as I had not the faintest idea where the trail lay. We turned for a last look at our cheerful camp-fire and Manuel said, " Adios, Hotel Japones." This was Manuel's little joke. I asked why he called it the " Japanese Hotel!" and he explained. The night before when he was getting supper I suggested that he cut the plain tamales in strips and fry them in bacon fat, as they had become cold and soggy. I could see that he did n't approve of my scheme, but it proved a success; the result being the equivalent of fried corn mush. Manuel pronounced it mucho limy bueno (very, very good), and ate a great deal of it. He now informed me that los Chinos were excellent cooks; and that owing to our successful culinary achievements of last night, he had christened the camp, " Japanese Hotel." I started to explain to him that the Chinese did n't come from Japan; but at that moment the pack-mules went on different sides of the same tree. The hind one reared and broke away and I expected to see her bolt; but Manuel said, " Sh-h-h mula bonita " (Beautiful mule), and she stood still. The damaged reata was repaired, and on we went in the darkness, climbing steep hills,
descending hills that seemed steeper, crossing mesas and fording streams. I was wondering how Manuel could know where he was going when the mystery was explained. He asked me if I thought we were going in the right direction. I said I did n't know, but I presumed he knew the trail as well as I did the streets of Durango. He replied that he did by day, but that now he was relying entirely on his mule: that she knew the way perfectly, and that he was not guiding her at all, but letting her go as she wished. I asked if he thought we were right, and he said. he did not remember the last hill; but that he could not be sure till daylight. Then he told me something that had happened only a short time before, showing how easy it is to get lost at night. He was driving a number of pack-mules, and stopped to fix one of the packs. Meantime the others wandered from the trail to feed. When he finally got them together, he was completely turned around, and search as he might could not find the trail. At last he unloaded his mules and hobbled them, built a fire, and sat there until morning, when he discovered the trail, within a few feet of where he was sitting.
It was so cold, we had to get off our animals and walk to set the blood going and when the dawn came at last, Manuel was still uncertain. He said we should be on the Guitarra Rancho and that when we saw mares and colts we should know we were all right. I told him when we saw them, he should have some tequila, and at sight of a band of brood mares, I got out my flask. " A long life and many boys!" I said to Manuel, as I swallowed a generous portion. Then I poured out some for him and the toast evidently had pleased him. He grinned and wished me happiness, and added that when I was ready to make the return trip, if I would only send him word he would come at once to fetch me. It did n't occur to me until some time after that I should have toasted Manuel's mule. At nine o'clock we arrived at the hacienda of " La Guitarra " and stopped to salute the senora, whom I had met on a previous journey. She sent a young lad into the corral with two big earthern mugs, and he came back with them foaming to the brim with delicious milk; he had milked into the mugs. They told us we could barely make the Rancho San Miguel by sundown, as there was lots of snow before us and the going was bad. By this time the sun was shining and my spirits rose. As we got up into the mountains we found snow in abundance, and rode over it for several hours. It averaged three inches on the trail, and in many places it lay fully six inches deep. The mules were not afraid of it, as they had seen it many times; but we had to keep stopping to dig it out of their hoofs, where it formed hard balls, making them slide and stumble, and our progress was necessarily slow. Manuel said that once when he was with a pack train, the snow was so deep they had to go ahead with shovels and clear the trail. I snapped him with the pack-mules, as they jogged along across the snowy plain; and later in a picturesque canon, where he actually shed his zarape for the heat. This latter picture was really taken for " El Capitan," my sturdy little mule, who would take the lead in the early morning and keep it till nightfall, never relaxing his gentle pace, till one of the pack-animals attempted to pass him, when he would strike a jog trot, and keep it up until he had distanced the presuming pack-mule. When I asked Manuel what his name was, he said he had no name, but they called him " El Capitan " because he always led the pack-mules, and would never resign his place at the head of the procession. " El Capitan " was a pack-mule, when he worked at his regular calling, carrying as high as eighteen arrobas (450 lbs.) so that his present job was a perfect sinecure.
We stopped for an early luncheon after riding seven hours. We were just getting through, when we heard the cries of arrieros (freighters), and a pack train came in sight. The chief proved to be a friend of Manuel's. As they shook hands the latter exclaimed, " José, man, I bring thee good news. I saw thy father on Sunday: he was well and hearty." In return for this bit of intelligence, José pitched in and helped him load the cargas. He was a fine stalwart fellow, light enough for a Saxon, with big, honest eyes, and a face tranquil as a child's, utterly unmarked by the feverish struggle that stamps the dwellers in cities. He was a buen muchacho (good boy), Manuel said, and his pack-mules were a gift from his Mexican master, as a reward for faithful service. They shouted to each other, long after we had separated; and when the arriero's voice was scarcely audible, Manuel still understood and answered back.
During the afternoon, the trail became more and more precipitous, and the country was wildly picturesque. The rock formations in this section are wonderfully grotesque, and I believe unequaled anywhere on this continent, save in Colorado. In fact, I imagine we have little scenery to compare in grandeur with that of northern Durango, except perhaps Colorado, Yellowstone Park and the Yosemite. My first acquaintance with Mexico was in this state, and as I journeyed southward, though the scenery is very beautiful, I noticed a certain softness of contour that seemed almost tame, after the rugged mountains of Durango. On reaching one of the highest summits, we saw far off, on the brow of another hill, a lofty pile of rock that looked like the medieval castle of some robber-baron, with frowning parapets and count-less towers silhouetted against the red sky. Manuel said it was " el Castillo de Chapultepec," where once lived the king of the Indians. I asked if he had ever heard of Cuauhtemoc, but he said he had not, and asked who he was. Alas for the fame of the Aztec emperor!
Just as the sun was disappearing, we entered on a smooth tableland, where cattle were feeding, and knew our ride was nearly over. The cattle in these mountains have the finest, softest coats I have ever seen, a regular fur in fact. Many are black and white, and their colors are literally snow and ebony. The cows are wild-eyed and timid, quite different from the placid creatures we are accustomed to. Their udders are extremely small and they can seldom be milked without hobbling the hind legs. It is a funny sight to see a wild-looking ranchero, half-vaquéro, half-bandit, with pistol at belt, huge hat and jingling spurs, putting a rope on the hind legs of a cow, and then holding the pail on one side, while the woman milks from the other. I was revelling in anticipation of fresh milk and cheese, when we came in sight of the ranch-house.
The owners were two bachelor brothers, Don Blas and Don Luis, both kindly, hospitable souls. The former was away on a journey, but the latter gave us a most hearty welcome. The house was presided over by a sister, and there was a younger brother on a visit, with his sick wife and large family of children. Don Luis said the place was very lonely till the children came and he called them " rayos del sol" (rays of the sun). There was one rosy-cheeked youngster of five, who was forever clinging to his hand, and I could see that he and his uncle were great cronies. We had a delicious supper and then went and sat near the huge bonfire which Don Luis had built before the house. Soon I was glad to seek the cot-bed in Don Luis's room, which Manuel had made up with my blankets, and a little pillow in snowy, embroidered cover, sent by the señora.
Don Luis said there was plenty of snow ahead of us in the mountains, and advised an early start, that we might cross the last summit, which was frightfully cold at night, and get into the valley before sundown.
I called Manuel at four o'clock the next morning and told him to go for the animals. He said he was afraid of a fierce dog who guarded the house at night; so the good Don Luis dressed hurriedly and went out to tie up the dog. I was shaking with the cold in spite of my two heavy blankets, overcoat and sweater, and was glad enough to turn out and go to the fire which was soon blazing in the yard. I found some coffee and tamales and with the aid of Don Luis we soon had breakfast under way. The rosy-cheeked boy insisted on being dressed, and came and nestled under his uncle's great cloak. That boy had a bit of everything going. We were short of coffee cups, and he and his uncle had one between them: first the man took a sip and then the boy, and the cup went back and forth from one to the other, till it was time to fill it again.
It began to grow light and still no sign of Manuel. The sun rose and the business of the day began, but Manuel did not appear. Meantime I had ample opportunity to survey the premises. The house was the most comfortable one I had seen since I left Durango, with snug corral and outbuildings: and there was a tiny chapel of adobe, with a quaint little wooden tower, and a sweet-toned bell. Don Luis said he and his brothers built it: the padre came at most, twice a year; but it was always open on Sundays and when visitors were there. At half after eight, Manuel hove in sight, behind four innocent-looking mules. In spite of the fact that they were hobbled, they had managed to make a long distance on the home trail, and he had tracked them many miles, before coming up with them. Of course I could not blame Manuel; but I told him we would make a hearty breakfast and take lunch in the saddle, not stopping till we reached our destination.
While we were making ready to start, a forlorn Indian woman came to the house. She with her man and child had been caught in the snow, with thin cotton clothing and bare feet protected only by sandals. They were endeavoring to cross the mountains when the storm came, and had taken refuge in a cave near the rancho. The woman had a frightened look, like a wild thing caught in a trap; and the half-starved child clinging to her skirt was a pitiable little object.
It was nine o'clock when we took the trail, and soon we were on the snow again. Traveling was slow work, but I was determined not to spend the night on that cold mountain, no matter what the hour of our arrival. I knew the descent was hard and dangerous, but the moon was nearly full, and I hoped it would light the trail. Whatever the hardships of a ride in Durango's moun tains, the delights more than atone for them all. I cannot describe the charm of those endless forests of pine, of the wonderful glimpses at intervals from the trail, of sun-bright valleys and distant, blue-veiled peaks, and the dazzling green of the pines against the snow. It is all too beautiful for words, and the most I can say is, it bestows a strange, dreamy sort of happiness, with forgetfulness of old troubles, disregard for what the future may hold, and the full power to live for and enjoy the present.
When we reached the last summit the sun was gone, but the moon was bright overhead. Then began the steep descent. " El Capitan " leaped, stumbled and slid in almost a sitting position, but he never lost his head nor his feet. He knew that trail like a bag of corn and he was merely getting over it the easiest way. Manuel kept close behind and said again and again to one or the other of his pack-mules, " Mula bonita ! Vuelva a trabajar!" (Beautiful mule! Return to your work!) In some places, the trail was light; but in others where the trees overhung, it was quite dark. I gave " El Capitan " his head, feeling perfect confidence in his ability to land me at the door of my good friend Don Jesus, whose casa was still several thousand feet below. As we went down and down, the air became soft and languorous, and occasionally the wind brought the strong, sweet odor of magnolias. Manuel began singing a plaintive air, in his soft Indian voice. It was the first time he had sung and for the moment I was vexed with him. As I have said before, I like a singing mozo. Then I thought of the reason. He was a mere boy, not over twenty-two at most, and all the responsibility of the trip, not only of the mules and cargas, but of our lives as well, had been upon him. No wonder he sang, now that the end of his labor was in sight. So we rode on through the sweet-scented air, Manuel still singing, till we entered the little pueblo of Carboneros and stopped before a white-walled cottage. Manuel called out, " Here is a señor ! and the next moment Don Jesus was shaking me by the hand. The supper table had just been laid in the broad veranda, and Don Jesus said I had come in good time. Soon we were seated and he was telling me of my friends only six hours away; how they had sent mozos for the last two days to the summit to look for me, and they themselves had waited at his house until nightfall. I felt tempted to ask for the loan of a fresh animal, and push on to join them; but it would be after midnight when I arrived, there was an arroyo that had to be crossed twenty times, and besides I felt a bit shaky about the legs. It was the eve of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The main room had been arranged as a chapel, with an altar and lights, and trimmed with evergreens. The women were singing and their voices had a soothing sound. But I went to my bed reluctantly. Such is the unreasonableness of human nature, after two years' absence, those few intervening hours that kept me from my friends seemed interminable.
When I awoke the following morning, the sun was streaming into my room. I had slept ten hours; but I felt it was no more than my due after averaging as many in the saddle, for the past four successive days. Manuel looked rather sheepish when I found him in the corral, but I did n't say anything more severe than, " Andale ! " (Hurry!) Soon we were on our way again, winding down the mountain. The scene was beautiful, with the note of industry supplied by a thriving mining locality. Below us lay the little town of San Dimas, and on the mountain side I could see the site of the famous Candelaria Mine which, since the early Spanish days, has produced incalculable treasures. Bob, who had now risen to the position of manager of the hacienda, met - me on the trail. He had come out to greet me, and as we rode we recalled the events of our first meeting, of our stay in Durango and the ride over the mountains. Bob rode with me far beyond San Dimas, and then turned back with the promise that we should meet on Christmas. I spurred " El Capitan " across the arroyo, and with Manuel following close behind, set out on my last hour's ride to " La Puerta," where my friends awaited me. The remaining distance was soon covered and on rounding a bend in the arroyo I saw the quaint old hacienda, with the little church, abandoned for centuries, and now converted into a charming American home. Don Alfredo and Dona Marciana awaited me at its hospitable portals,— but why attempt to describe a meeting with friends, than which I have experienced no greater happiness. We talked late that night, and dwelt long on those old days in the beautiful valley of Huahuapan, before I left the camp.
Christmas was now close at hand, and the Americans throughout the San Dimas mining district were preparing to make it, as much as was possible, a home celebration. In Mexico, as in all Catholic countries, the religious celebration begins on Christmas eve, which is called Noche Buena or " Good Night "; and it is then the country people seek the towns and cities. The highway from Mazatlan to the San Dimas mining district lies straight up the canon of the Piaxtla River and the San Dimas Arroyo. This is during the dry season, when the river is low. In the rainy months, travelers must take the road over the mountains, which means a journey of nine days or more. The trip down the river is made in from three to four days. " La Puerta," where I was staying, is directly on the river; and all day on the Sunday preceding Christmas we saw the people coming from the pueblos farther down and from the mountain ranchos to San Dimas, which is a good three hours' ride above " La Puerta " and which is always the center of festivities. The well-to-do man and his family were on horseback; the señoras and senoritas in huge hats and muffled to the eyes in white linen rebozos, to keep out the heat. They were always accompanied by one or more pack-animals with trunks; for there was to be a ball on Christmas night, and the fair ones carried their party dresses with them.
The peones and their families were on foot, and as they had to ford the stream many times, often where it was waist-deep, all were prepared for wading. Every man carried a pack, and it was not infrequently surmounted by a chubby child, who surveyed the sights with round, wondering eyes, from the vantage-point on its father's broad shoulders. The peones of this section are nearly all mountain men, and a hardy, rugged set. There are many bright, intelligent faces among them, often distinctly European in cast. Like all peones, they are trained to carry immense loads, either on their backs or balanced on their heads. When iron wheel-barrows were first introduced into Candelaria mine, in place of the leather sack, in which the ore had always been carried, a brawny peon was directed to fill a barrow, and wheel it to the ore patio. He piled it high with rock, eyed it dubiously for a moment, and then seizing it, lifted it on his head, and trotted away with it. An-other peon carried a Burley drill, weighing in the neighborhood of six hundred pounds, from the hacienda to the mine, over a very steep trail that is covered on mule-back in about an hour. The hacienda boasts a piano, probably the only one that side of Mazatlan, which was carried all the way from the coast on the shoulders of peones.
When we arrived at San Dimas on Christmas eve we found it en fete; that is the shops were closed, hand organs were playing and nearly every peon had a bottle of mescal. The men were given full license until Christmas night, so long as there was no fighting. The worst that could happen to an inebriate was being conveyed to the jail and allowed to sleep it off, when he was at once given his liberty with the privilege of getting drunk all over again.
On Christmas eve a string band played on the plaza, which is a wide street, one square in length, where the people promenade. This place also serves as theater, when a wandering operetta company comes to the town, a stage being erected at one end and a canvas stretched over the street for a roof. The audience bring their own chairs and primitive comforts by no means interfere with their enjoyment.
The band played till half-past eleven, when the bells began ringing for midnight mass. We found the little church full of people on their knees, and the altar boys engaged in lighting the candles. The band had pre-ceded us and was playing the mass, which was sung by men and boys, some with very good voices. I preferred to remain outside, and watch the dark forms gliding from the shadow into the light that streamed from the church door, sometimes to enter, again only to kneel and cross themselves. Many were quite unsteady on their legs, but there were few, who could walk, that did not stumble at least to the door, before morning.
Christmas day was hot and all seemed inclined to save themselves for the ball. The people kept up their festtivities, as they knew that at ten o'clock that night their holiday was over so far as carousing was concerned, and they must all be in their homes. The creatures are naturally such a mild, peaceful set, it is impossible not to like them. The danger comes, when crazed with mescal, a disgusto arises, and out comes the ugly knife. In San Dimas neither knives nor pistols are allowed, hence casualties are reduced to a minimum.
At four o'clock there was a dinner at the hacienda and eighteen people sat down at table. There were a Mexican, a German, an Englishman, a Hungarian, and Americans completed the party. It was hard to realize we were five days from the railroad, with such a varied menu, and when the mince pie and fruit pudding appeared it seemed a sure-enough Christmas dinner. At six o'clock the ladies withdrew, and we organized an impromptu quartette, and sang old-time songs till at last they reappeared in simple, white muslin frocks. I doubt if the most elaborate ball dress ever created a more profound sensation. Imagine a typical mining camp, with all its accompanying dust and grind, and then set down in the midst a fair, winsome American girl, in a fluffy, puffy, fleecy white gown.
The dance was given in the school-house. The floor had been canvassed and the room was hung in trans-parent red, white and green stuff. There were masses of fragrant pine branches piled high in the corridor and before the musicians, and before the cantina (bar). There were lots of pretty Mexican girls and the music was excellent. The favorite dances were waltz, polka, schottische and the Mexican danza. The latter, which is also known as the " love dance," is thoroughly characteristic. The music is very soft and very slow. The youth holds his partner, presumably his novia, as though for a waltz, but the nearest approach to waltzing is a slow, gliding walk, which they keep in unison, some-times seeming scarcely to move; meantime he gazes deep into her dark eyes and whispers impassioned words in her willing ear. The Mexican youths and maidens are fond of the danza and usually prefer this dreamy walk-around, to the livelier polka or schottische. Here the likings of the two nations are in marked contrast. An animated polka would strike up and the young Mexicans and their partners would begin slowly circling the room, while the Americans took the center and danced the glide polka. In some instances an American beguiled his or her Mexican partner into the same rapid step, but I saw one fair-haired Northern youth slowly undulating in the danza with a senorita, and he seemed to have mastered it in every phase, even to the look in his eyes.
Refreshments were served throughout the evening and aided greatly in keeping up the enthusiasm, for it was a sultry night. At two o'clock the floor managers distributed little silken rosettes among the ladies, who were requested to attach them to the coats of the gentlemen with whom they desired the next dance. This was an innovation that met with no special favor at the hands of the senoritas. All their training had accustomed them to the very opposite course to anything in the way of overtures to the other sex. One bright-eyed miss, who had just returned from school where she learned English, did summon up enough courage to beckon a young American, and I distinctly heard her say, " Come here ! " He lost no time in going. The other girls sat calmly holding the favors; and though the dance finally began and many of the men eventually wore the ribbons, they probably had to ask for them.
The party broke up at three o'clock, those who had remained going home together, with the musicians in advance playing las mañanitas — which are pieces played in the early morning after a party. On reaching the plaza they stopped quite naturally and struck into a waltz, and the music proved so alluring, we were beguiled into one more turn on the smooth pavement. Then " Buenas noches " was said in earnest, the musicians playing until the last couple was out of sight. This seems a very pretty and complimentary custom but it goes even farther in some of the smaller pueblos. In one where I was staying a dance was given, and the young man who gave it went with the players to fetch his novia. They were attended by the other young men of the pueblo, and then they went to the house of each girl in succession, the band playing all the time, until all were assembled, when they proceeded to the place where the dance was given. All the men carried pine torches and the sight was picturesque in the extreme. The same form was observed in seeing the girls home, but torches were no longer needed, as it was broad daylight when the dance ended.
San Dimas is one of the oldest mining towns in Mexico. It lies in the bottom of a deep canon and is surrounded by mountains that tower over 4,000 feet above it. The exit to the coast is along the Piaxtla River. It has between twelve and fifteen hundred people. The men are a race of miners, and there are veterans among them who have worked in the " Candelaria " from boyhood. They occasionally try their hand at something else, but always drift back to the mine just as a sailor does to the sea. The barber, whose acquaintance I made there, told me his father and all his family had been miners; and though his present work is much easier, he still spoke rather regretfully of la mina. He was a bright fellow, about forty years old, and assured me he has never so much as left San Dimas: has never seen a locomotive nor the sea. To those who have traveled, such ignorance of the world is almost incredible.
The ores in all the mines of San Dimas run high in gold. The metal is shipped in bars to San Francisco, where it is sold outright, an assay being made and the gold and silver proportionately paid for. A bar weighs, on an average, seventy-six pounds. Before refining, it contains a proportion of baser metals; but there is also a percentage of gold, that raises its value as high as a thousand or even twelve hundred dollars. The bullion is transported to Mazatlan on mules, one load seldom being over three bars, as a quick trip is desirable. A bullion train makes the trip to Mazatlan in from four to five days. The freighters receive five dollars a bar for carrying, and there is always return freight, at the rate of $7.50 a load, which is three hundred pounds.
In the old days, when bandits were thicker than flies in the summer, every bullion train was attended by a guard of soldiers. The owner of La Candelaria, whom every one addresses as " Colonel," told an amusing story regarding a threatened raid of the notorious Eracleo Bernal. This famous bandit had been committing depredations in the adjacent mountains, and San Dimas was in dread of a visit. One day some of the men employed at the hacienda came rushing in, their eyes bulging with terror and said, " Eracleo is coming ! " He had just crossed the summit, they declared, and was sweeping down on the town, followed by his horsemen. The Colonel armed his little force, stationed reliable men on guard and then ascended a hill near by, hoping to get an early view of the enemy. Far up on the trail he saw a cloud of dust, but it did n't impress him as being made by a body of horsemen. He watched it for a long time and finally saw that it was a flock of sheep. The Colonel chuckled but kept mum; and the frightened people continued in such a panic of apprehension that even when they heard the bleating of the innocent invaders, it was hard to convince them that Eracleo was not at their heels.
The Colonel once came near meeting the bandit chief, under circumstances which might have proved serious. Finding it necessary to go to Mazatlan, at a time when travel in Mexico was rather insecure, he quietly made his preparations for the trip, and set out with a trusty mozo, not telling even him where they were going. Secret as he was, though, the bandits got wind of it, probably through a spy in camp, who warned them of the departure. The Colonel, quite regardless of danger, rode ahead of his mozo, and eventually missed the trail, getting on the wrong side of the river. He discovered his mistake, but determined to keep on, feeling sure he should come out all right and that his mozo would rejoin him on the highway. He finally struck the trail and reached a hacienda where he spent the night. The mozo did not appear and he went on to Mazatlan with-out him. He had been there several days and was much perplexed to know what had become of the fellow, who had always proved faithful, when one morning he appeared. He was riding quietly along, he said, following his patron, when he found himself surrounded by bandits. This happened on that part of the trail the Colonel had missed, when he crossed the river. On the mozo insisting that his master had gone on ahead, the bandits accused him of lying. They bound him, carried him into the mountains and maltreated him severely, trying to make him reveal his master's whereabouts; but becoming convinced at last that he knew no more about it than they did, they let him go. This was doubtless a sad disappointment to Eracleo, as the owner of Candelaria mine would have been a rich prize, and the bandit leader thought he had a handsome sum almost within his grasp. This same Eracleo Bernal, who came to be the terror of Durango mining camps, started life as a peon boy, in the region of Basis and Huahuapan. The people of the Huahuapan valley remembered him when, a tow-headed boy, he carried the food to the men at work in the Huahuapan mines.