Back to Bachimba

Image‘No doubt my chagrin was accentuated by the fact that Pancho Villa’s exploits were a constant topic of conversation in our household. My entire childhood seems to be shadowed by his presence. At our dinner table, almost every night, we would listen to endlessly repeated accounts of this battle, that stratagem, or some great act of Robin Hood kindness by el centauro del norte….

…As if to deepen our sense of Villismo, my parents also taught us “Adelita” and “Se llevaron el canon para Bachimba”  (“They took the canons to Bachimba”), the two most famous songs of the Mexican revolution. Some twenty years later (during my stint at Harvard Law School), while strolling along the Charles River, I would find myself softly singing, “Se llevaron el canon para Bachimba, para Bachimba, para Bachimba” over and over again. That’s all I could remember of that poignant rebel song. Though I had been born there, I had always regarded “Bachimba” as a fictitious, made-up, Lewis Carroll kind of word. So that eight year ago, when I first returned to Mexico, I was literally stunned when I came to a crossroad south of Chihuahua and saw an old road marker: “Bachimba 18 km.” Then it really exists–I shouted inwardly– Bachimba is a real town! Swinging onto the narrow, poorly paved road, I gunned the motor and sped toward the town I’d been singing about since infancy. It turned out to be a quiet, dusty village with a bleak worn-down plaza that was surrounded by nondescript buildings of uncertain vintage.’

‘Back to Bachimba’ Enrique Hank Lopez, Horizon, Winter, 1967