10 October 2009

The children in Las Barrancas del Cobre refused to smile. The most common response of most subjects, when faced with a big lens and a foreign face, is to smile. Even if out of sheer nervousness. After having three consecutive children consent to having their picture taken, I was taken aback by their stoic glimpses towards the camera. Some of them wouldn't look at all.

The Tarahumara people of Chihuahua are known for their incredible cardiovascular endurance, their barefoot preference, and in my anthropological studies of 2009, their rejection of Western camera etiquette.

When the Spanish arrived in Chihuahua in the early 1700s, it was the long-distance running abilities of the Tarahumara that carried them into the untouchable depths of the Copper Canyon. Their eyes, skin, and slowness speaks to a wisdom that omits time as a quantifiable number, written on the walls are prayers such as 'we were and will again be dust'.

It's always hard for me to take my camera to places where people don't have the option to leave. The Tarahumara were beautiful people, yet their circumstances made it hard for me to enjoy the way they looked through the viewfinder.

They're amongst the poorest in the state of Chihuahua, one of the most arid states in Mexico. Those who had given up on their crops, plots that reached my knees, were in the City asking for 'corima', a word that used to describe the process of giving unsolicited gifts amongst their people. Then, it was tamales, dehebrada, or tesguino. Now, a mere peso.

If you've thought about going to the Grand Canyon, reconsider. The Copper Canyon is longer, deeper, and the Tarahumara are, through my Rebel viewfinder, de lo más impactante.