Alamos, Sonora, Mexico and Pagosa Springs

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I recently returned from a trip to northern Mexico at the edge of the Sierra Madres to the town of Alamos within the State of Sonora. Interestingly, the town is about the same size as Pagosa Springs. It is a Spanish Colonial Mining Town founded in 1681 following the discovery of silver in the area. Because of the great wealth created from nearby silver mines, scores of large colonial Spanish mansions were built in the town. Many were destroyed in the early 1900’s before Americans began to rediscover the area in the 1940’s. A number of the families living in Alamos can trace their heritage back to first settlers that came to work the mines.  Presently there are a number of Americans that maintain homes there for the winter months, and a few that live there all year, though I have found the summer heat to be quite intense. Like Pagosa Springs, Alamos has struggled during the recession to continue to attract tourists that are willing to spend money locally. Unlike Pagosa Springs, they have also had to deal with all the negative press relating to the drug wars that continue to plague many parts of the country. Though there has not been any drug violence in Alamos (it is far enough off the cocaine highway) the number of visitors from the U.S. has declined sharply and the town has seen a significant reduction in U.S. tourist dollars flowing into its coffers. Interestingly, those funds have been replaced, by and large by visitors from within Mexico. Alamos has been the location for the filming of a Novella (Mexican Soap Opera) which has been tremendously successful. They have been in town for the summer months, which historically have been the months most hotels see few visitors. In December of last year they filmed a full feature movie in the area. When it is released later this year into the Mexican market, Alamos expects to see more visitors as the movie includes some interesting history of the area.

The residents, business owners and town employees and leaders work hard to keep their city clean, safe and friendly. They do a good job of promoting Alamos with a series of events scheduled throughout the year. While I was there last month the 28th Annual Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado was underway. This is a music and art festival named after a famous opera singer and doctor that was born in Alamos in 1893.

This year performers came from Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica and other Central and South American countries. The following link will take you to the Festival Program Guide- get ready to polish up on your Spanish:  Alamos Festival         The event was attended by loads of Mexican nationals, many from within the region, but many from as far away at Mexico City and Oaxaca. About a third of those attending the festival were foreigners, from Central America, Europe, South America and Gringos like myself from the U.S.  Everything was very well organized, events began and ended on schedule and provided everyone with a fabulous variety of musical performances. Thursday evening the group Puerto Rican Power played for the crowd and had everyone on their feet dancing the salsa:  Friday evening the group Opera Prima Rock performed a two hour tribute to the music of Queen. I was amazed how popular their music was and how many members of the audience knew all the lyrics. The group had everyone on their feet for the encore “We Are the Champions”.



Saturday evening the Italian Tenor Alessandro Safina performed. In 2007 he recorded a duet with British Soprano Sarah Brightman for her Symphony album and joined her on her Symphony World Tour for 2008 and 2009. His vocals and his orchestra were fabulous. Following his performance,  Callejoneada con la Estudiantina Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado completed the music celebration with all of the musical artists dressed in 17th century Spanish costumes, parading through the streets and alleys of Alamos playing traditional songs and telling stories. This went on until the wee hours of the morning. In all, the experience was wonderful.

Anyway, what I found most interesting is how well attended the Festival was. You had to travel 30 miles west of Alamos to the city of Navajoa to find lodging if you had not made a reservation at least two months earlier. The Festival has been sponsored and coordinated by a group of stakeholders including the Town of Alamos and surrounding communities, the State of Sonora the National Institute of Fine Arts, with commercial financial support from Coca Cola, Corona, and Telmex. This is a festival I would highly recommend to any music and culture lover. The people are warm and friendly, lodging is great within Alamos if you plan ahead. My two favorite lodging facilities in Alamos happen to be owned by Americans: Hacienda de los Santos and Hotel Colonial.

 Hacienda de los Santos, one of three pools.

 Both of these hotels are exceptional. Within HDLS is the Poncho Villa Cantina, where Poncho Villa stood after entering the town. If you are a Tequilla drinker, you will find over 500 different bottles of the spirit within the bar. If you can’t find one you like, you’d better think about changing drinks!



 Pancho Villa Tequilla Bar at Hacienda de los Santos

Hotel Colonial, Alamos. Janet Anderson, Proprietor.

The restaurants in Alamos are very good and very economical.  I love the food at Hacienda and Las Palmeras is a great spot for lunch or a casual dinner. Terisita’s Panaderia y Bistro is my favorite for a cappuccino and breakfast pastry, a great place to start the day and check email with their WiFi connection.

 Outside Seating at Terisita’s Panaderia Y Bistro


You can reach the town of Alamos by driving a little over one hour south from Ciudad Obregon, where you can catch a flight from Phoenix on Aero Mexico with a connection in Hermosillo. Alternatively, if you don’t mind a longer and much more economical journey, you can take a first class luxury bus with on board video sets and Wi-Fi from Phoenix or Tucson. While in town I did check out the local real estate scene. Not much had changed from my previous visit in June of last year. A few properties are moving, but very slowly and at prices well below the peak of 2007. Few Americans are buying and many more are trying to sell. Very few Sellers have shown a willingness to greatly reduce their asking prices. Instead, they seem determined to remain patient, a concept that seems more abundant within Mexico.  The decline in buying interest from Americans has, to some extent been partially offset by a renewed interest from Mexican nationals.  It was also interesting to see the increase in Canadians in Alamos.  Alamos Gold of Toronto, Canada owns a huge gold mining and milling operation just west of Alamos which is targeting production in excess of 150,000 ounces of gold for the year, generating gross revenues of over $200 million. Perhaps this investment in the area will create more visitors to Alamos from our northern neighbor. I initiated a discussion with a resident American of creating a Sister City relationship with Pagosa Springs. The Town of Alamos currently has a Sister City relationship with an Arizona community, but nothing with any Colorado towns. It might be a mutually beneficial relationship, given the similarities of the towns. If you think you would enjoy the wonderfully interesting culture of Old Mexico, I highly recommend you consider a visit to Alamos, and I would suggest visiting during the Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in January. Be sure to book your trip early in order to obtain good local lodging.

Quite Street in Alamos at 6:30 a.m.A Quiet Street Scene in Alamos at 6:30 a.m. the day after the end of The Festival.