Todd Jagger Photo Gallery -El Camino Real

"Inside the old Iglesia at Ojo Caliente, Chihuahua, México"


Señor Motta, whom I've already introduced, became very excited when we told him of our project. By this time in our excursion, Enrique, who quite frankly was uncertain for the first few days what I was doing and why (the government, for whom he works, simply told him to drive me around wherever I needed to go), had become quite the ambassador to the locals and his enthusiasm for the photographic project was infecting. Though I speak fairly good Spanish, he could explain and relate to the people much better than I why our project was important. All the Mexican people I met were well aware of what the Camino Real was and one lady, who ran a roadside snack bar, pounded her fist on the counter exclaiming that there should be a museum for people to understand the history and significance of El Camino Real.

Sr. Motta told us that, as a boy, his father would take him swimming at the hot springs of Ojo Caliente, but that in the last few decades the springs had gone completely dry, probably due to deep irrigation wells sunk into the earth by large, corporate farms and a relatively new power plant nearby. Sra. Motta told us that when she was a child and they would travel to Juárez to buy or sell goods, that they would travel by horse-drawn wagon, and that the family would have to paint their faces with a dark color to hide their light skin, thereby fooling the bandits along the road into thinking that they were poor Indians, not worth robbing.

There is a new church at Ojo Caliente, but it is obvious that people still use the old one. It was swept and there were fresh flowers on the alters, candles lighted for loved ones passed. Potshards from ancient vessels littered the grounds. Standing there, alone in the sun, one felt the presence of history and many lives and spirits that had crossed this path. Some still remain.


Text & Photograph © 1993, Todd Jagger
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