National Geographic : 1968 Aug
"We save most of those we can get to the clinic," Father Verplancken told us. "They arrive looking fat, but it's all fluid and no flesh. Even when they get enough corn, they lack protein-there is very little game left in the mountains. The Indians catch and eat mice, when they can find them. "As for germs," he added, "the Tara humaras don't believe in what they can't see. Some parents visit the children, see how well off they are with us, and simply never return for them. "We can't change the parents, but we are trying to reach the children. There are probably 50,000 Tarahumaras scat tered through the mountains, but they don't live in large communities and they have no central leadership. Over a 26,000-square-mile area we have a total of 3,650 students in 63 schools. All but 10 of these are radio schools, where we teach the children via short-wave sets provided by the mission." Indians Race On Through the Night Father Verplancken invited us to join him on a tour through part of his parish. Just outside Creel, we came on a Tara humara foot race. Four men and four women ran con tinuously from one end of a mile-long field to the other. Each barefoot man kicked what resembled a wooden base ball ahead of him, and each woman tossed a pair of linked straw hoops in like manner, scooping them up with a short stick on the run, and flinging them ahead (pages 156-7). As I ran alongside one of the women taking pictures, she playfully-I think - swung her stick atme between scoops. From the rocky cliffs, almost a quarter of a mile away, drifted the sound of laughter. Using curiosity as an excuse to stop running, I spotted dozens of Indi ans watching from the craggy bleachers. Father Verplancken explained that Burrowing into the heart of the lofty Sierra Madre, a diesel-electric autovia of the Chihuahua al Pacifico railroad dives through 89 tunnels and across 31 bridges in the 420 spectacular miles from the city of Chihuahua to the Gulf of California. Here at El Divisadero, a regular lookout stop, passengers leave their car for an eye-filling vista. KODACHROME© N.G .S .