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El Triunfo: a chimney and old ghosts

Over a lower hillside, in the mountain flanks that centuries back offered gold and silver to European and American capitals, you can find El Triunfo, a small town located 56 kilometers to the south of La Paz and 158 kilometers to the north of Cabo San Lucas. It outlives with great dignity that fatal destiny that all mining towns face: the depletion of its mines. 

El Triunfo

When the Old California scarcely had a handful of energetic inhabitants, El Triunfo lodged up to ten thousand souls during the mining boom. What is left of its homes and of its civil buildings shows something from the past splendor of its inhabitants. At the same time that the old folk’s memories revives and Magnifies employment, salaries, manufacturing installations, workshops, smoke, movement, music and fandango, in a dizzy succession of memories that contrast with a present as ghostly as the spectrum of the great men of the town that loaf around the site proximities where they hide –so it’s said- the enormous accumulated richness during the years of magnificence.

In the proximities of the civil buildings that stubbornly maintain standing and in the large vestal houses which show its bricks behind the cement, an enormous chimney designed by a European architect of that epoch shows its construction verticality and strength built to withstand earthquakes, hurricane winds and even the inexorable pickaxe of time. There it is. 

Music Museum

The scarce El Triunfo settlers use this name as an all defeating word, just as a wild card in the regional card game of the ¨malilla¨. While they wait for the discovery of new silver and gold mines that would once again play (in reconstructed red bricked halls and on shiny parquet) polka music, schottische, and Viennese waltzes, with sober pride of ruined bourgeoisies offer its travelers its pitajayas, sweetsop, cheeses and palm shoot crafts, a cultural legacy of Samuel Hayward, a Chilean of English ancestry that would arrive to the town in 1918.

El Triunfo, however, refuses to live from its ghost stories and from past glories founded upon the mirage of precious metals: its inhabitants beautify, however they can, the most visible Façade of the buildings and reconstruct the valuable ones. In one of them, they have opened a singular Museo de la Música (Music Museum) that is much appreciated by its visitors…and by the people from El Triunfo. 

While progress arrives mounted in globalization, the people of El Triunfo do not ¨cross themselves¨ with their ghosts nor do they sleep on laurels of past greatness: they work to survive, but enjoy the midday humming of the summer cicada and during the always calm night time, from the opaque cowbells and from the crowing from the sleepless rooster on its stand. 

Author: M. A. Gallardo

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