The Lost Mine

There was not even one bar in Punta Abreojos, and when there was bad weather or a storm surge, the abalone or lobster boats did not go out. Instead, the fishermen gathered to drink beer and tell lies in the town’s only billiard hall. The old wood and zinc panels barely resisted the onslaught of the fierce Ocean Pacific winds.


The story-teller on duty that day was “El Cantino,” a big man from San Gregorio in the central part of The Sierra. He was the rower of an abalone boat with a taste for a clandestine mezcal, beer and for oral narratives. My tata told us:


“When they were building the San Ignacio mission, stone by stone, drop of sweat by drop of sweat, a Cochimi Indian (an original native that no longer exists) gave the missionary priest three gold nuggets, large as pigeon eggs. The priest’s eyes glittered. ‘Bring me more,’ he said. ‘We need to make the altar of pure gold for the greater glory of God and Loyola, his holy soldier.


The Cochimi told the other Indians to bring the priest heavier stones so that the mission altar would shine and God would be served. (If those where the exact word, I do not know). Several leather bags were brought by the Indians from the center of El Vizcaino to the mission. The missionary father sent one of the Indians and had him followed by a Spanish soldier who was good for such things. That was how they discovered the treasure in the foothills of the Santa Clara; just north of here at Abreojos (one-hour drive).


The priest ordered them to open a bigger hole to get more gold, but it turns out the Cochimíes realized that the altar of the mission would not be of pure gold, but mesquite hearts covered with gold leaf, a very thin sheet of gold. They felt completely deceived, and how could they not!


One day, they trapped the foremen of the mine inside and killed him. They were the only people who knew where the mine was so they collapsed the stones above th entrance. Although many have continued to look for it, the location of the lost mine has never been re-discovered. » What do you think? Do you believe my tata? I do.


After that day, several of us went hunting deer and wild donkeys in the direction of Santa Clara’s peak. Some of us forgot rifles, but not picks and shovels. Gold fever is tempting.