The Alianza concession (mining claim) lies in the center of the mountain, east of the Ejedo Estacion Ojo Laguna. It is owned equally by Armando, who lives in Estacion Ojo Laguna and Fernando, who lives in Chihuahua City, hence the name Alianza or “alliance”. I have known both of these men for over 20 years and consider them friends. I have an agreement with them for all the agate produced from their claim. This agreement was developed over many years and has many mutually beneficial conditions. I have helped mine the claim several times with equipment (see other mining reports) as they have no equipment of the own and was excited about trying it again in 2014. It is necessary to make plans months in advance if equipment is going to be rented for the operation. I met with Maqsa, the Caterpillar dealer in Chihuahua City, in April to make preliminary arrangements to rent a 320 Excavator for the operation. All of the plans were kept quiet because of security and safety concerns. In the past all of our mining operations have been published in advance to allow the possibility of visitors and promotion of the rock. Due to some threatening actions by someone in Mexico, information about our Mexican mining operations are made public only after they are finished. I am sorry to those of you who were told some misinformation in October, but it was deemed necessary from a safety point of view.
Jose Luis and I made our way to Estacion Ojo Laguna in early October only to find that the house we were promised by Fernando to live in was unavailable. The new road from the highway and past the south end of the mountains was built by Mennonites. They are now building a new power line to the next valley to the east of the Laguna Agate deposits. The company doing the work has many of its workers living in Estacion Ojo Laguna, thus there was no place to stay. In the end, Armando offered us a room in his house, and we stayed there. I would like to thank Armando and his wife for their hospitality. Armando’s wife made breakfast for us each morning, and had a meal ready for us when we returned from the mine in the evening. It was wonderful living a much simpler life in a house with no heat or heated water, and with visits from Armando’s brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and grandchildren every day.
There were many problems during the mining operation, but I am not going to list them here. I have never worked in Mexico in October. This time of year is right after the rainy season, and I was a bit shocked at the vegetation growth. It was like spring with the flowers blooming and bushes growing everywhere. They had a lot of rain this year, thus the lake was full. In addition, the new road acted like a dam and created a second lake to the south. Even though there are several culverts under the new road, water was running across the road in several places. There was an amazing variety of birds everywhere, everything from ducks to cranes. Below is a gallery of pictures I took during this month long operation, including pictures of the lake. Each picture is captioned to give an idea of what was going on during the mining operation. I worked five or more separate areas on the hillside. In each case, I tried to expose more areas that could be worked by hand later. Some very good agate was produced, just not enough to satisfy everybody. Also below is a short story about one of Estacion Ojo Laguna’s more memorable residents. It was amusing to watch her.
The Pigs of Estacion Ojo Laguna
Estacion Ojo Laguna has more animals living in town than people. Most residents have pens or fenced areas behind their houses for their horses, chickens, ducks, sheep, cows, and pigs. There are also dogs of course, however dogs run free and are not treated the same way dogs are in the United States. Dogs are rarely allowed inside, are usually fed outside, and are partially allowed to fend for themselves.
One morning while leaving Armando’s house to drive to the mine, I rounded a corner with the truck and saw a pig trotting alongside the road. I don’t think pigs trot, but this pig was moving along with determination. It was not walking nor running, but moving in a straight line like she knew exactly where she was going. Later that evening while returning from the mine we saw the pig again on a different street moving in a different direction, but still seemingly determined to get where she was going. I asked Armando who the pig belonged to, but he did not know. Early the next morning, before dawn and just before the chickens declared a new day, I heard dogs barking and a pig squealing. The dogs were chasing the pig, who apparently was still wandering around town, and causing grief for the pig. The next day we saw the pig again, still “trotting” along the side of the street, exuding the same confidence of direction and purpose. It reminded me of seeing an early morning jogger over and over again who happens to cross your schedule, except that this pig was always on a different street. Was she really going somewhere? Was she lost? Was she trying to get out of town?
The next day I thought I had the answer. There are only two ways to get to Estacion Ojo Laguna, which is a dirt road from the north or from the south. Both roads are about 10 miles from intersecting Highway 45. The one day the pig was on the south end of town with its determined “trot” heading down the road on its ways out of town. Freedom at last for the pig I thought. That evening on my return from the mine there was the pig again in town trotting down another street. Maybe she decided going out of town was not a good idea.
The next morning as Armando and I were getting the truck ready to go to the mine, a group of pigs came meandering down the street in front of Armando’s house. There were not trotting, nor did they give an indication that they were in any hurry or going anywhere. They just wandered around like they were home. The dogs were their also, but did not bother any of the pigs. The group of pigs seemed to tell the dogs that their harassment was not allowed with more than one pig there. The pig that I had seen seemed very happy and perhaps she was just seeking companionship or a way to discourage those pesky dogs.