Monday, September 2, 2013

Praying, Rattlesnakes & Bisbee's Copper Queen Mine Tour

Labor Day brought a variety of activities my way! Saturday, the Sisters from San Xavier in Tucson met me at LaPurisima Retreat Center in Hereford, about 15 minutes from Sierra Vista. We spent time talking, eating, praying, fighting snakes, scorpions and having fun. Here is how the weekend went.
I got there first and met the caretaker and sat outside in the beautiful AZ sun, enjoying the green hills from all of our monsoon rains this season that is quickly coming to an end.

Shortly, the five Sisters from Tucson arrived and we enjoyed a picnic lunch together. We then decided to hike/ride to the top of the mountain to do some reflection at Our Lady of the Sierras.

Ready for the long hike -winding up to the top!
 Along the way, I saw this furry, fat caterpillar munching away and getting fatter! My students would love him as they have been busy at recess collecting caterpillars-till I finally said, "You may not put the caterpillars in your lunchboxes!" (lunch is after recess) . Now, I feel at ease to eat the goodies they offer me from their lunchboxes as I supervise the cafeteria.
Finally, we made it to the top- a little hot and sweaty!

What a view we had of the blue skies and the little town below!
We reflected in the newly rebuilt chapel. The 1st chapel was destroyed in the Monument Fire of June 2011!
Looks like the Gates of Heaven!

After coming down from the mountain we prayed and reflected together.
Then it was off to Ricardo's Restaurant for a taste of Mexican food. Delicious!

Coming home that night some were going to play cards in the hall at LaPurisima and we were heading to the bedrooms first. The doors opened to the outside courtyard. One Sister shouted out,  "There's a snake by the bedroom doors!!!!"
We all came to check it out.
One Sister took a broom handle and hit the sidewalk thinking the vibrations would move him. No way! 

I took some gravel and threw it at him to chase him away and that is when he put up his tail and we heard his rattle-it was indeed a rattlesnake-black and white striped tail!! My first rattlesnake I saw up close.
We decided to call for back-up; as we knew no one would sleep this night and we could not wait for the rattle snake to finally move so we could get into our bedrooms.
The caretaker came with his daughter. Now, I know if we were at school and we had snakes, our janitor or the local firemen would capture the snake and take it further out into the desert but at night there was no time for that and we were already flat in the middle of the desert at the retreat center.

After this excitement, I asked the caretaker, "Now, if there is one snake will there be another close by following?" He replied, "No, they don't travel together. This should be it for the night. " Then his daughter yelled, "There is another one around the corner. " Sure enough, slinking by the wall of the building making its way to come onto the sidewalk by the bedrooms. It was bigger than the first one so it had to be shot in the head. The shovel would not do. I learned, if you shine a light in the eyes, it blinds it and then it makes it easier to kill it.

As we were talking after all this, they quickly stepped on a scorpion that was right by my open toed sandals. I certainly didn't want a scorpion bite!
Cards were played and then all went to bed-but checked first for spiders and scorpions in the rooms before lights were turned out.
The next morning we journeyed to Our Lady of the Mountains Parish for Mass with Fr. Ariel and the parishioners. They were thrilled to see so many Sisters and one of my students asked me, "Are these the Sisters coming to our school? " I replied, "Yes!"  She believed me and was thrilled. Sisters are very much appreciated at our school and parish and gladly would like more to be there.

After Mass, we proceeded to Bisbee. We first toured the historical Catholic Church there-St. Patrick's.
Beautiful stain glass windows throughout the whole church!
Then it was on to the Copper Queen Mine tour. We put on jackets as the temperature in the mine was 47 degrees.

Before the tour we had time to check out the museum on the outside of the mine.

The miners did not have an easy life or a long life as we found out on the tour. One of the drills was called by the miners-"The Widow-Maker" because it created so much dust that the miners breathed in daily. Their lungs were soon filled with that white dust and died after a few years of working in the mine.

Here is the train we took into the mine.
We straddled it and put our feet on the running board and hung on to the person in front of us.
Before we got on the train we were fitted with a yellow jacket, miner's light and hard hat.

 One of the Sisters asked the gentleman if he ever had put a hard hat on a Sister's veil before. He said, "No. We saw you come in and started to talk about how we were going to get the hard hat on the veil. We decided to give it a try."  He did a great job. Not a one fell off in the mine. Once the hat is put on your head they turn a large screw on the back of it to tighten it to fit your head.

We were next given a  miner's light to wear to light our way in the mine. It was very dark down there and a definite 47 degrees.
 Ready to go!
Lights are on!
 This is how close we got to the mine wall.
We got to get off twice to walk around and see how the mining was done.
I found the most interesting part was the story about the mules. Mules were used in the mine but first they had to go to school. They had to learn the noises of the mine, the miners' carts, how to pull, and adjust to the darkness. A lot of money was put into the training of the mules so once they started working in the mines they were treated better than the miners at times. Once their years in the mines were done, they were let loose into a green pasture during their retirement. I know they truly earned a green pasture after their hard work those years.
After the tour we had a quick lunch at Burger King and then good-byes were said and we went back to our own convents.
My Labor Day weekend is not over yet. I was invited to play 9 holes of golf at the Knights of Columbus Golf Tournament at 2:00pm on Monday. It was at Turquoise Valley Golf Tournament in Naco, AZ which is the border town to Naco, Mexico. I traveled the same road to Bisbee but turned right instead of going into the city of Bisbee. Here is the fence put up between the U.S. and Mexico.

 We teed off in the heat of the day at 2:00pm after a night of rain, lightning and thunder. So we had humidity and not the dry air of Arizona we normally have. I played with Fr. Ariel, our pastor and two parishioners. We all took turns having the best ball at each of the 9 holes.
Fr. Ariel, trying hard to get onto the green.



A good time was had by all even when one of the golfers called , FORE!! I hit the ground and my veil came off. He hit the ball right over my head. Perhaps it was the wind velocity of the ball that knocked my veil off.  I heard lots of laughing from the men, even though the pastor says he didn't laugh. :):) I'm glad I made their day. By 4:40pm the 9 holes were over and I gladly got a very cold Diet Coke and went home to cool off. Back to school tomorrow! I bet I had a more exciting weekend than most of my students. We will compare stories.

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