The Indians began to come in as the sun touched the ridge west of where R�o Cusarare bends in a clear stream past a place called Caba�as Barranca del Cobre. The first we knew of their approach was when Shel Hershorn, the photographer, glanced up from our game of crazy eights and said, "It's a classic. A face in the window. Don't look over your shoulder." So I looked over my shoulder and saw framed in the window a pine tree and the nape of a chalky hill, nothing more.
"Perfect face," Shel said. "Brown. White headband. Black hair. Curious oval eyes. Apache-looking. Too bad you missed it. However, if you could look up just now, carefully, without letting them know what you're doing, and turn your head very slowly, then suddenly snap around, you could see three more."
I looked around again, and there were five. Rather than popping out of sight, these five—now seven, all wearing cotton headbands, dressed as if they had been sent by Cochise—grouped at the windows and peered into the room where we sat at a table near the fireplace. Those faces, black eyes following each movement of card or cigarette or coffee cup, awoke some ancient memory that caused a certain creeping of the flesh. Mollie Lowther got up and opened the door. Bundles of cloth lay on the hillside beyond R�o Cusarare as though someone had tossed his laundry out of an airplane. Since early afternoon we had heard the bells of the Indians' goats and had caught an occasional ghosty motion up in the rocks. Now the Tarahumares were showing themselves, coming in for the fiesta we had decided not to have that day. "Must be at least 50," Mollie said. "Somebody's going to have to explain this to them."
We had been passing the word for the Tarahumares to come in some morning and had been assured by Juan Safiro, a mestizo from a valley known as the Place of the Eagles, that they would. But an Indian is not obsessed with counting time as we are. When you say morning he thinks you eccentric if you expect him before dusk. We went out on the porch of the Caba�as Barranca del Cobre, which is a long wooden cabin divided into rooms. An old blind man in a loincloth was walking down the road toward the lodge, poking up dust with his stick. Behind him in the peach light wandered a small boy wearing only an unbuttoned red shirt. The old man sat down against the Lowthers' pole fence. The boy came to the porch and looked up at us.
"Chu-mu rewe?" I said, exhausting one-seventh of my knowledge of phrases in Rar�muri, the language of the Tarahumares.
"Nej� rew� Juan Batista," said the boy.
"Terrible name to stick a kid with," Shel said. "Give him some candy."
The boy unfolded a bandanna, placed our peppermints inside with several jellybeans of dubious vintage and refolded the bandanna. He kept looking at us. They were all looking at us, the ones who had been at the windows and the ones on the hillside and a dozen more who were coming down the canyon from the direction of the waterfall and perhaps another dozen who had appeared on the ridge in the sunset. They were not talking. They were just looking at us. Even the goats were looking at us. They were all waiting. They could wait all night.
Shel picked up his Polaroid color camera, and we went out to the pole fence, where an Indian woman in a white cotton dress sat with two babies and a dog. All three were in her arms, wrapped in a red shawl.
Shel shot her picture. Many of the Tarahumares have never seen their own reflections. The Polaroid was our device for introduction. Shel gave the woman the color print, and she held it upside down, as other Indians did later. Shel righted it. She examined the photo and began to make the mental connection between the red on the paper and the red of her shawl. She tapped the photo, tapped the shawl, tapped her face and looked up at us. "That's you, ma'am," Shel said. She grinned in a sudden burst of pleasure. She started stroking her hair and smoothing it back, looking into the photograph as if it were a mirror.