Yes, there are a lot of kids and dogs in Mexico. Just as there are in the USA. The difference is that these kids go to school for about 5 hours a day. No recess. No lunch break. Just classes. And why just 5 hours, you ask? Because someone else is going to come sit in the same desk for the same classes for another 5 hours on the same day. Most schools operate on shifts so that all the students can get some school time! Each teacher works the entire 10-hour shift. There is much discussion lately of revision of curriculum, improvement of teacher quality and pay for the profession. Recent sad news about a group of teachers/students will expose more on this topic-, as they were known to protest the conditions in Mexican education programs. Sad that something so awful had to happen to open the conversations.
Much of our day was spent driving along Highway 12 in the Sierra Madre. Do not be fooled into thinking that names means that it was a highway at all. It was more like a dirt road with occasional spots of pavement and large divots, rockslides, cows, horses, huge grasshoppers and even a big, black snake! Oh and every other vehicle was being driven at breakneck speed or the pace of a turtle. But with just two lanes to drive in, and almost no other cars on the road, everyone just drove down the centerline to avoid all the other obstacles! It required a great deal of attention from the driver and the copilot. But in the moments that we could glance around at our surroundings we could see the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Madre. Each approaching village offered nearly the same visual image; tall trees and even taller church towers. We stopped at a beautiful highway shrine, which featured a VW bug in the art. We drove over a retention dam and saw a large reservoir behind it.
We had driven to Bacanora (famed for a tequila beverage) to look around, purchase some bacanora and maybe stay the night. The hotel was closed down. The store sold us sodas and when I asked about bacanora I was given the secret code. “Go to the yellow house. Knock on the door and wait there.” As instructed, we crossed the plaza to the yellow house and knocked. After a few minutes an elderly woman answered and beckoned us through the living room to the dining table. There were several sizes and types of glass jars on the table. Most were partially filled with clear liquid. She named off prices and quantities. I pointed at the one I wanted, so she topped it up and offered me a taste. I smelled it and declined the sample. We paid the price and headed through the house for the front door. As we exited it felt as if we had been to a speakeasy or made a secretive prohibition era purchase!
Since there were no other reasonable options in Bacanora, and we felt conspicuous,
we backtracked to Sahuaripa for a hotel night. We arrived in Sahuaripa in the afternoon. We found Hotel Casa Grande and took a room. We were able to park in a gated, secured backyard estacionamento with fruit trees and an area for the dogs to run around a bit. The room was antiquated and rough. Probably built over 100 years ago (from the chat with the proprietor) before running water and electricity. Those amenities had been installed roughly, over time. But the beds and floors were clean. The shower had hot water and good pressure. The place was built in a hacienda style with the rooms along the outer walls- windows facing the street- with thick adobe walls and large wooden window covers and iron bars. No glass. No screens. The inside garden was filled with mature fruit trees including lemon, grapefruit and fig. We felt secure, comfortable and able to relax for the night
We hitched up the hounds and went for a stroll. We arrived at the plaza just as the second shift of school was letting out. The children surrounded us to ask us about the dogs. They wanted to know their names, their ages, and their sex. They commented on Mango’s white stripe and Seri’s soft ears. They asked why Zeb was wearing a special leash (he walks better with a Halti) and I assured them that it was because he was strong, not dangerous. They smothered the dogs with petting and kissing. And the dogs just sat down and enjoyed it!
The next day, we crossed out of the state of Sonora and into the state of Chihuahua.