MINA DOS ESTRELLAS (MEE-NAH DOSE EH-STRAY-US)
Tlalpujahua (Tuh-LAL-poo-HA-wah), Mexico
Welcome to Mina Dos Estrellas (Mee-nah Dose Eh-stray-us), an abandoned gold mining complex tucked into the mountains near the small farming village of Tlalpujahua (Tuh-LAL-poo-HA-wah), Mexico. At its peak, this mine employed over 5,000 workers and was one of the largest producers of gold in Mexico.
In 1903, European settlers invaded Tlalpujahua (Tuh-LAL-poo-HA-wah). When the settlers learned the surrounding mountains held a fortune in gold, local villagers warned against any excavation plans. They believed that the mountain's gold was guarded by a Nahaul (Nuh-wall), an ancient Mexican sorcerer controlled by El Diablo, the devil.
The Nahaul is one of the most feared creatures in all of Mexican folklore. The meaning of Nahaul comes from a combination of ancient Aztec words: "Naualli" (Nuh-waa-LEE), which referred to the sorcerers, or holders of the dark powers, and the word, "Nagual" (Nah-GWALL), which meant the animal companion, or one who walks upright next to man. An early Aztec writing about the Nahaul has been translated as follows:
All at once, the trees begin to rustle and the wind began to moan. And then out of the darkness came a terrible phantom--the Nahaul. He stood seven or eight feet tall, and stood as though he were a man. But it was an animal covered in hair, with long arms, and the feet and claws of a wolf. It had wolf's ears and a wolf's mouth, but the expression of an evil man. It made an extraordinary noise--a howl that pierced with hellish glee. It was there for only a moment, and then disappeared. It was approaching sunrise. I knew I would see it again when the sun set.
The villagers believed the Nahaul had the ability to change from human form to beasts such as wolves, snakes, pumas and wild dogs. The settlers paid no attention to the locals' superstitions and constructed a huge mining mill, digging 10 miles of tunnels into the mountains and pillaging the gold they were warned not to touch. Prosperity came at a price. Conditions at the mine were atrocious, employees were overworked and exploited, and fatalities were frequent.
During the mine's operation, many unexplainable accidents, deaths and suicides occurred throughout the Mina Dos Estrellas complex. Men broke through rock and plummeted hundreds of feet to their death, never to be found. Others hit pockets of dead air, causing them to suffocate instantly. Men lost limbs on the giant machinery of the complex. Many died from the smallest of injuries since the owners refused to provide proper medical treatment for them. It was often said that the chances of surviving an injury were better if one avoided the hospital. As the accidents increased at the mine, local authorities searched for rational explanations. The workers had their own ideas: They blamed many of the accidents on the beastly Nahaul.