The Place of Grasshoppers
(pronounced: Sara ca hooey)
May 3, 2017
The Jesuits were either directly in front of, or directly behind the Spanish conquistadors in so many of the conquered countries of Spain.
The Spanish encroachment, by missionaries and settlers alike in the Copper Canyon, led many of the local Indians, the Tarahumara, to abandon their pueblos and move into the increasingly rugged country of Sierra Tarahumara, making it difficult for the Spanish to exercise control over them.
Sadly the encroachment of the Spanish did bring epidemic diseases that swept through the pueblos and decimated the population. This and the treatment they received in the mines that were being developed, led to uprisings that resulted in the deaths of many priests and soldiers, and brutal military responses that killed thousands of Tarahumara. In the end, the Tarahumara dug deeper into the hills and chose isolation, defining much of their culture today.
The Jesuits continued their work until 1767 when King Charles III of Spain expelled them from all Spanish territories. Monks from the Franciscan order took their place, but their work lacked the intensity of the Jesuits’. The Jesuits returned in 1900, and set about reopening missions and establishing schools, orphanages, hospitals, and clinics.
Cerocahui, Mexico was first visited by outsiders in 1679 when the Jesuit Padre Pecoro stayed here for a short period and reported that the Indians were not ready to accept his faith.
In November of 1680 an Italian, Father Juan Maria Salvatierra, began construction of the Mission you see in the town of Cerocahui today. He stayed for 10 years.
There is no more recorded history until 1936 with the return of Father Andres, who began reconstruction of the chapel in 1940, covering the outside with the carved stone you see today.
In 1941 Father Andres founded the Tarahumara Indian Girls Boarding School which still operates today with 102 girls attending in 2017. He also built the first road to Bahuichivo during the mid-50’s.
The Padre died in Guadalajara in 1976 and his remains were taken to the religious cemetery in Sisoguichi. On March 11, 1997, his remains were returned to Cerocahui where they presently rest in the walls of the church.
The girls that attend the boarding school come down from the mountains for their education. Many live at least a three-hour walk from the town, so they remain in the school for much of the year. They attend mass every day in the church. These photos are of those girls.
The town has a population of only 1556. They received a hospital just 6 years ago, if you needed one before that you had to drive for four hours.
We are staying at the Hotel Paraíso del Oso. Translation: Paradise of the Bear. The hotel gets its name from the rock structure that hangs over it. They call the bear Yogi.
If you are of a certain age, and from America, you know Yogi Bear, but why here? Well, it turns out the hotel was started by an American, Doug “Diego” Rhodes. He originally lived in Ohio, moved to New Mexico and eventually found himself here in Ceracahui, because he realized there were no good hotels in the area.
Today you will find the hotel, being run by Diego’s son Hugo as Diego now spends his time taking tourists to Oaxaca for Dia de Los Muertos celebrations, or children from Cerocahui to Mazatlan for their first glimpse of an ocean.
The hotel, built in 1990, has 21 lovely, clean rooms, a cowboy bar that serves wicked margaritas and delightful home cooked meals, and yes, wifi.