Mineral de Pozos, an old, “abandoned” mining town about forty miles northeast of San Miguel de Allende, didn’t seem abandoned to me last Monday when I took a day trip there with some Mexican friends to celebrate my birthday. There was some sort of fiesta going on, which attracted throngs of local people of all ages, filling the town’s main street with colorful, joyful, musical Life.
L.A. Times staff writer Christopher Reynolds wrote a long and charming article about the town recently, which made me want to to there. As he explains it:
“Pozos was born in 1576 as a mining town, and grew in fits and starts alongside half a dozen other boomtowns in the high, rugged central region that Mexicans call the Bajío. By the last years of the 19th century, the number of working mines had reached 300 and the population in Pozos alone had reached 70,000. But then came the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Mines began closing down, and many flooded. Silver prices fell. … Pozos was doomed.”
In short, Pozos became a ghost town, or what Mexicans call a pueblo fantasma.
“But Pozos isn’t dead,” Reynolds continues cheerfully. “It’s slowly growing, its ghosts joined by perhaps 3,500 residents who have begun filling the reclaimed ruins with contemporary art and pre-Hispanic music. The town has three hotels, eight to ten art galleries [most open only on weekends] and perhaps fifty Americans, many of them artists, who live here at least part time. …”
Pozos was declared a pueblo magico (magical village) in 2012, and its tourist boom continues, although it’s nowhere near as touristy as much larger San Miguel.
Since we visited Pozos on a Monday, few stores and galleries were open; but we did come across an old mine whose front had been converted to a shop that sold silver and semi-precious stones. While a young guide gave my Mexican friends an underground tour of the mine, claustrophobic me shopped for a souvenir stone.
I was seemingly magnetically drawn to a smooth, oval black obsidian stone, about the size and shape of a bar of bath soap. I gripped it in my right hand and couldn’t let it go. At 120 pesos (or about $6 U.S.) it wasn’t expensive. But still, as I do with all unnecessary purchases, I asked myself sternly: Do you really need this? The answer I got was: YES. But I didn’t know why.
Back home in San Miguel I had to Google this beautiful stone to learn why I was so attracted to it. According to the website crystalsandjewelry.com, black obsidian has potent positive energies. It has the elements of fire, water, and earth. It is the stone of honesty and truth.
“This beautiful and powerful stone,” this website says, “can help cut through the drivel, shatter illusions, and uncover lies. It can help you remove any blockages in your being and see through the facades. … If you value integrity, the obsidian stone is perfect for you.”
Oh, and there’s more! Its positive attributes go on. Black obsidians are good for your health, they decrease stress and tension, reduce anxiety, and even improve the digestion! If I hadn’t just learned that black obsidian stones come from quickly cooled volcanic lava, I would have thought they were made (as amber is fossilized tree resin) of fossilized snake oil.
Forgive my cynicism. The fact is, I can’t part with this stone now. Call me crazy, but I even sleep with it: I clutch it in my right hand all night. At a time when so much in my life is up in the air (Air definitely NOT being my astrological element), and I feel like I’m fluttering, I need some of this stone’s solidity to hold on to.
Some find their security in healthy bank accounts. Others cling to fuzzy, warm blankets. I seem to have found mine in a solid, smooth, black stone that fits in the palm of my hand.