On my return to Guachochic I discharged the Mexicans who had been with me since my travels through Sonora; they were here of little use to me, as they did not know the country. I also disposed of the greater number of my mules, keeping only about half a dozen.
With the kind permission of Don Miguel I installed most of my baggage in one of his houses, and considered his ranch a kind of headquarters from which I made several long excursions in various directions. Thanks to my pack and riding mules I could take along, as barter, corn, glass beads, tobacco, and cotton cloth, and bring back collections made on the road. I was accompanied by a couple of Mexicans from this part of the country and some Indians who acted as carriers. Of course, whenever I went down into the barrancas, I had to leave my mules and cargo in some safe place on the highlands and take along only the most necessary stores as we proceeded on foot. On such trips I had to depend entirely on the natives; they secured the food, and selected the cave or rock shelter, or the tree under which we slept.
Our bill of fare was made up mainly of corn and beans, with an occasional sheep or goat, and some herbs and roots as relishes. Corn was prepared in the styles known to the Indians, either as corn-cakes (tortillas) or, more often, by simply toasting the grains on a piece of crockery over the fire. The dish is easy enough to prepare and does not taste at all bad, but it is hard work for one’s teeth to make a meal of it, as the kernels assume the consistency of little pebbles, and many months of such a diet lengthens your dentist’s bill at about the same ratio as that in which it shortens your molars. You will ask why I did not carry provisions along with me. Simply because preserved food is, as a rule, heavy to carry, to say nothing of its being next to impossible to secure more when the supply is exhausted. Some chocolate and condensed milk which I ordered from Chihuahua did not reach me until seven months after the date of the order. Besides, the Indians are not complaisant carriers, least of all in this exceedingly rough country.
For over a year I thus continued to travel around among the Tarahumares, visiting them on their ranches and in their caves, on the highlands and in the barrancas. There are few valleys into which I did not go in this central part of the Tarahumare country, that is, from the Barranca de Batopilas and Carichic in the north toward the regions of the mining place Guadalupe y Calvo in the south. By and by I also found a suitable lenguaraz, Don Nabor, who lived a day’s journey from Guachochic. He was a tall, lank, healthy-looking fellow, some fifty years old, very poor and blessed with a large family of sons and daughters, some of them full grown. All his life he had been intimate with the Indians; he spoke their language as well as he did Spanish, and really liked the Tarahumares better than his fellow Mexicans. Being a great