When Lena Curiel’s kidnapped young mother, Chela, was found, it was said she refused to come home. Several members of the extended Curiel family, plus three armed family friends, were sent to bring the stolen young mother home. They were led by the family doctor and a bruja. (In the 1960s, brujos, male and female, rural and city, were popular.)
Lena’s father had been killed just before her mother disappeared. Chela was eventually found hiding in the southern state of Colima, outside a small pueblo located on the side of the Colima Volcano.
The family’s doctor and bruja took the first available public — home-made — bus. Toño Curiel and his wife, who adopted Lena when her parents disappeared, chose the clan’s most resourceful leaders — an aunt and uncle — to go help Chela. They took the family’s rickety camion.
It was obvious that ten-year-old Lena was trying persuade her adoptive parents to go also — and take her with them. True, Lena had put the image of her lost mother in a faded corner of her mind. Now she was trying to revive that feathery image. She was sure she could overcome her mother’s reluctance to come home. But no one else thought the ten-year-old would be of any help.
Lena got into an argument about this with several of her older kin. One, Jose, was strong, forward, yet likable. A cousin who thought young females should help their mothers in the cocina and at sharecropping. Lena, determined to destroy misconceptions regarding her ability to help her mother, challenged 15-year-old Jose to a machete-throwing, tree-hacking competition to prove her resourcefulness.