José “Che” Martínez Castro

The first thing José “Che” Martínez Castro does when he wakes up at Rancho El Pasito in San Javier, municipality of Loreto, is to go to the corral to milk the goats. He then goes to the house and feeds the mules. Then plant, water and clean the crop. “There’s not a day I don’t work. Every day I work,” he says. There is no end to the work on the ranch.

As a guide on the Camino Real between the municipalities of Loreto and Comondú, Che takes exceptional care of the mules, as it is on them that the road through the Sierra de la Giganta is travelled.

From his childhood, he recalls the sierras, “All the time I have walked this road,” he reminisces. In that simple statement, it is possible to envision a child under the vast expanse of a clear sky, journeying along indelible paths and roads that connected the Jesuit missions. The memories are deeply etched in his mind and in his words evoke a sense of nostalgia. He considers the journey to be as enchanting as the destination.

He has been guiding people along the Camino Real for some twenty-seven years. He started with a relative and then, out of curiosity, began to walk it independently.

“The road is engraved in my head. When tourists ask me: where is your GPS? I answer them: Here, in my head, I have the whole road engraved”, says Che, and clarifies that he could not choose one route as his favourite.

He was also involved in the documentary “La Recua”, produced and co-directed by Trudi Angell with Dario Higuera Meza. “Trudi called me to be the guide in the Comondú area; that’s why I came because I didn’t know that she didn’t know the trail well. But thank God we got everything that Dario remembered right,” he says.

When talking about the driving force of his life, Che mentions his wife and children. They also help him with the work on the ranch. He knows that the most precious things are family and friends that the road has given him: “I know many people, I have many friends; I like to treat everyone well and take care of them”. His caring, welcoming and sincere approach to people and life has rewarded him beyond his expectations, as evidenced by the many relationships he has forged throughout his many travels along the Camino Real.

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