I am writing this text in a little, shabby hotel room in Santa Rosalia, a mining town about 50 km away from the volcano “Las Tres Virgenes”. This is the story of the volcano I have chosen as a starting point for my blog. It is a story about the impact that weather has on my project and how sometimes not getting what you want can be a wonderful stroke of luck.
I developed the idea to start my blog with a piece on “Las Tres Virgenes” because it is located in the north of Mexico and therefore a good starting point for a journey that is southbound. Looking at its location, I decided that the best way to get there would be with a rental car. Therefore I asked a friend of mine to send me my driving license, which I had left in Germany. DHL told her it would take about two weeks for it to arrive in Mexico. Two weeks passed by, then another and another… until I gave up waiting and I decided to fly to La Paz and take a public bus from there.
So far I haven’t regretted my decision. I am here in Santa Rosalia, I can see the volcano “La Reforma” and I know that “Las Tres Virgenes” is just next to it. But unfortunately, there was a hurricane recently and I cannot get hold of “Eco Tours Las Tres Virgines”, the place I wanted to stay initially. It would have been a great base for hikes and the perfect spot for some volcano photography because it is literally at the base of the volcano. But I never managed to get hold of them, neither by mail nor by phone or Facebook. And lacking a driving license and a car, I could not just drive by. So I contacted a hotel in San Ignacio, which is also close, but not as ideal. This morning I received an email from them, stating: “So sorry but because of damage caused by the recent hurricane, we are not able to accommodate guests yet. Enjoy your stay in San Ignacio!“ This might also explain the silence of Eco Tours, the bad roads and all the dust and dirt here in the streets of Santa Rosalia…
I was thinking of taking a taxi and just go there and see for myself but things have taken another, unforeseeable direction.
Upon my arrival in Santa Rosalia, I felt very comfortable. The humble feel of this place charmed me instantly. It is an old mining town, established by the French in the late 19-century. There was an operational mine here until the 1980s when it was shut down for economic reasons. There are wooden French colonial houses squeezed in a little river valley that opens up to the seashore and it has a steel frame church, which is said to be designed by Gustave Eiffel.
The unique thing about this town is, that it was build for the mine. While the oceanfront promenade with public buildings is the centrepiece of a normal seaside town, the centrepiece of Santa Rosalia is a derelict processing plant, including a harbor, storage facilities, the remains of a railroad and many other, intriguing structures and machines that are left to deteriorate.
Last night, I was sitting outside my room smoking a cigarette when an older Mexican appeared and sat down at the construction site next door. He greeted the neighbours and me, rolled a cigarette and we had a little conversation. It turned out that he was a former miner and so we spoke, in Spanish, about the town, the mine and the volcano. He told me that the mine was reopened this year and that they are mining copper, manganese and zinc. He also said that all of those resources were deposited by the ancient eruptions of the volcano “Las Tres Virgenes”. How lucky can you get? I want to take pictures and write a story about the people and the places that are influenced by volcanoes. And by a string of unforeseeable turns and twists I end up, unknowingly, in a town that is the direct result of my chosen volcano.
I decided to change my plan and to take a picture of a very special construction on the ocean promenade, instead of “Las Tres Virgenes” itself. Thereby I want to document a monument of the human endeavor to extract riches from the volcanoes, even in the remotest and unlikeliest of places!
By the way, yesterday I received a message that my driving license has finally arrived!