Casa de la Esperanza. A House of Hope.

Points of Interest

The area is also an important transportation junction for the Chihuahua al Pacific rail line, which runs through the scenic Copper Canyon area. The trip from Chihuahua City to Los Mochis has been labeled on of the most spectacular train rides in the entire world. Traveling nonstop, the 420-mile one-way trip takes only about thirteen hours.

Copper Canyon

One of the most notable features of Chihuahua is the Barrancas del Cobre, or Copper Canyons, a spectacular canyon system larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon..! Also, it is important to mention that Chihuahua played a pivotal role in the Mexican Revolution, and was a battleground between revolutionary forces led by Pancho Villa and federal forces. Chihuahua. (2006, September 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:55, October 10, 2006, from this link.

Culture and Economy

The culture and economy of this distinctive region of northern Mexico are very diverse. Two major groups of people, the Tarahumara Indians and the Mennonites, have had a strong influence on this area.

The Tarahumara Indians have always called themselves Rarámuri, which has been translated to mean “the runners,” or “those who walk correctly through life.”  Many of these semi-native inhabitants live in the mountains and canyons of the Sierra Tarahumara, where they originally fled to avoid missionaries and Spanish slavery during the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 1500’s.

Today around 62,000 Tarahumara , Northern Mexico’s second largest native tribe, are scattered within a 26, 000 square mile section of the Sierra Madre Occidental.  They tend to live apart from other Mexicans in out-of-the-way places, including caves, cliff sides, or small wood-and-stone houses in secluded meadows.

When traveling in the areas where the Tarahumara live, respect their sense of privacy.  Never attempt to enter a Tarahumara home or take photos of people or their homes without first asking permission.  The same sense of respect should be given when in attendance at their religious festivals.

The Mennonite sect got its start in Holland in the 15th century as pacifist “Silent Communities” or “Communities of the Cross.”  They were constantly persecuted for their ascetic socio-religious practices and refusal to volunteer for military service.

Around 9,000 Mennonites first arrived in Mexico from Canada in 1921, after Mexican President Alvaro Obregón allowed them exemptions from military duty and the swearing of all allegiance, while giving them the right to enter and leave the country at will and the authority to establish and administer their own schools.  Obregón saw the Mennonite immigration as an opportunity to upgrade Mexican farming techniques and raise the standard of living in Chihuahua.

Chihuahua’s “campos menonitas” are concentrated to the north and south of Cuauhtémoc, and altogether they number around 50,000. It is possible to visit the Mennonite camps, which resemble rural farming communities in the U.S. Midwest.

During the last few years since the signing of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), many rapid changes have occurred in the Chihuahua-Cuauhtémoc-Anáhuac areas of northern Mexico.  The opening of the trade barriers has allowed a much more receptive approach in the country toward American visitors, businesses, and attitudes and beliefs. Because of this, the timing is excellent for mission activities in northern Mexico.

However, in spite of NAFTA, salaries remain low. The average income in the Cuauhtémoc and Anáhuac area is $200-$400 U.S. dollars per month, which explains the poverty that is so pervasive throughout this region of the country. In addition, the cost of living is in many instances equivalent to that of the U.S.  Also, many items cost more in Mexico, as it is the case with gasoline, building materials, some food, and LP Gas.