The California Native International Adventures

Since 1983

From The California Native Newsletter:

The Spirit of Christmas

By Marcia Schultz Tarahumara Kids
“Everything in Mexico is changeable...” says The California Native literature. So, on my first trip as a guide in Copper Canyon, I should have been more prepared, that Christmas Eve, for the unexpected foot of snow that fell just before we arrived at the Paraiso del Oso Lodge, nestled in a small valley not far from the village of Cerocahui.

The owner, Doug “Diego” Rhodes, greeted us then rushed off to join the State Police on a mission to rescue an isolated Tarahumara family, returning just before “margarita” time with four little boys, their older sister, and a 2-year-old in tow, all wearing the traditional rubber-tire-soled sandals. Doug explained that their mother had died that summer and their father had just returned from several months in the hospital.

Every Christmas, we let our group-members know about the party that Doug hosts for the local Tarahumara children and the need for warm clothes and gifts, and this evening, bags of donated items filled the lodge’s office.

Doug’s wife, Ana Maria, and her staff bathed and dressed the children who came down to supper a little dazed, but sparkling clean and warmly dressed. Then we all sang Christmas carols in English and Spanish and had a truly festive Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day, we were scheduled to visit the town of Urique, at the bottom of the canyon, but the snow and ice made the dirt roads impassible, so instead, we spent the day celebrating the holiday at the Paraiso del Oso. We stuffed piñatas with candy for the 20 children now at the ranch. The Tarahumara boys and girls all took turns whacking piñatas. As candy poured out, the children grabbed it up with glee. Afterwards, they lined up to pick a gift from under the tree. Felipe, a quadriplegic Tarahumara who was staying at the ranch for Christmas with his children, watched from the sofa, snapping his young daughter’s photo as she ran to show him her prized toy.

Although our group missed the views of the Urique Canyon, we more than made up for it by spending Christmas the way the holiday is meant to be celebrated—surrounded by happy children, good food and celebration.

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