Early one morning I had a unique opportunity to go caving in the Picacho Mountains that border town. Because it was a cool morning the sky was lined with vapor trails from planes. It reminded me of how, when my kids were tykes and autumn skies featured this, I convinced my children they were witch’s trails lining their return home before the sun rose.
In terms of caving, I exaggerate. Caving implies spelunking or a horror movie involving subterranean demons. I was simply hiking with pals, a local guide that grew up in the area and a large collection of pooches including my own in search of caves of local folklore fame.
First up was Cave of the Mom Pig, where a lass once gave birth to her litter of piglets. I was reminded that as far as livestock go, pigs are the clever ones with a will to survive far from the farm.
From a distance we could see the steeple to the chapel to the Sacred Heart of Jesus under construction. The guide’s five brothers, in the US for 25 years, still send 500 pesos a month home toward its construction
As the air got fresher and we reached the the 8,000 feet above sea level mark we started seeing lichen on trees and rocks. I haven’t seen lichen since I lived on a remote Atlantic Ocean island. Also among the rocks is the Rose of Jericho, or Resurrection Plant.
The Resurrection Plant is a sturdy rose that when dry curls in on itself like a tumbleweed. However, hours after any application of water, they unfurl and bloom again. Legend states the death of the plant originally occurred when Jesus died and both Jesus and the rose came back to life on Easter Sunday (hence the name).
The plant’s morning dew is believed to have helped Jesus survive all that time in the desert. Today the plant is an image for sustaining life through hardship much like the soldier whose cave we were en route to.
The cave is the former home of a soldier who survived fighting on the wrong side of the revolution and has the cave now named in his honor. Rumors abound that his Catrin-esque (skeletal) remains are there. Also that the surrounding smaller caves house hidden gold. It reminded me how Cinderella is Mexicans’ favorite fairy tale, because Cinderella wins the lottery, finding her own pot of gold in the prince. Found money is the best.
The only treasure we came across in the cave were the sandwiches and chocolates I packed from home.
As always, I’m reminded of all the history, culture and surprises located just minutes from town, with great views alongside lovely flora, fauna and friends.