Friday, November 20, 2015

New Beginnings

Norawas de Raramuri’s connection with the Running People of the Copper Canyons is deep. The miles we have run together and the bond we have created through respectful encounters are all building blocks of a relationship that benefits everyone on multiple levels, as Korima, the beautiful Circle of Sharing, dictates.

Last March was hard for everyone. The local government had to struggle with a terrible situation, the international runners were faced with the reality of the Canyons life, local townspeople have suffered human and financial consequences and the Raramuri, like us, were caught in-between too many conflicting situations. Everyone was left with many questions.

But the bond between the Copper Canyons and the Mas Loco runners is stronger than adversity.

Last week, a few of us traveled down into the Barrancas for the first time since March, bearing a message of hope and peace, as always. Apprehensions and fears were set aside, with the focus being placed on showing everyone that we are all together in this, that we are all connected and that we will always have love and respect for the Canyons, its people and its beauty.

Cabanas San Isidro,
our friend Mario's beautiful place above the Canyons
We were delighted to witness that everything seemed to have calmed down. The road to Urique is now paved all the way to the first outlook, past Cerocahui, at the doorstep of the Canyon. Heavy preparation work is even being done on the road to Urique, with segments being widened, storm drains being built and survey measurements marking several other locations.

We arrived at our friend Mario’s cabins in San Isidro, where our Raramuri friend Horacio was waiting for us. After a first outing up to the rim and down to his village of Porochi, we shared a meal and agreed to take off for Urique on foot, early the next morning.

Following Horacio on the trail to Porochi
The trail leading down to Porochi is gorgeous and we were delighted to see a lot of green and water trickling down the arroyos as we made our way into the village. We then walked to Horacio’s grandparents, who were going about their daily tasks. We were welcome like family, invited in and offered delicious fresh apples. We were shown the complete process of pinole-making, from picking the dried corn seeds to roasting them on the fire, grinding them and finally rock-grinding them on the metate into the rich, fine powder consumed as a meal and running fuel by our Raramuri friends and us alike.

Michael Miller, Flint and Horacio
After saying our goodbyes, we kept following the winding trail with surprisingly steep uphills that lead to the very brim of the canyon, then started our decent along a spectacular trail reminiscent of Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail, winding down dramatic canyon walls and little valleys clinging to the steep slopes. The trail eventually connected to the main road, which we followed on and off in-between smaller trail shortcuts.

We emerged in Urique close to La Pista, the street-that-turns-to-a-landing-strip in the town’s heart. With the sun shining, the birds chirping and the mourning doves singing their quiet song, it immediately felt like coming back home.

Mas Loco Patrick Sweeney on a break in Porochi
We met with our friends from the Urique Government and discussed the coming race, which they will organize, and the activities that we hold dear such as the kid’s race, school support initiatives and, of course, the trail project so many of you are helping make a reality.

We met the architect and inspiration of that project, our friend Prospero Torres, who brought great news of progress and fresh new ideas for improvements that will facilitate adventure tourism while benefiting local people, in a true vision of ecotourism. We are all very excited about this and will share more about the specifics of the trail in the coming weeks.

Raramuri ladies working the metate
Our short trip ended with a visit to a group of local ladies hard at work making delicious, organic pinole, and discussing potential new projects to celebrate this great staple and the Raramuri culture it comes from. Receiving such a welcome from a group of traditional women was heart-warming and made us feel like friends visiting friends, which Norawas is all about in the first place.

We came out of the Canyons smiling, satisfied and hopeful for the future, reassured of the bond we all share and grateful for the prospect of new beginnings.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015