For the last three winters, we have driven past, through really, the tiny town of El Triunfo nearly a dozen times. We have stopped exactly once and that was only to buy a bag of veggies from the ladies on the street corner and snap a quick photo of their church. We always said, “we’ll stop next time”. Well, next time finally happened as we headed there for our Photo Field Trip of the week.
As we’ve settled in here at Los Barriles we’re finding it essential to take one day a week where we head further afield. Some weeks that may just be a day to Cabo to hit up Costco, but for the most part we are enjoying having the time to really explore the surrounding region.
As with so many places we’ve traveled through these last few years, El Triunfo was once a thriving town of nearly 10,000 residents. Originally founded in the late 1800’s, mining was the name of the game and the city became the largest town in Southern Baja after the British Mining Company El Progreso brought prosperity to the region.
After the mines closed in 1926 the majority of residents soon departed to find jobs elsewhere and the town reached near ghost-town numbers in the population. Luckily for us, change is afoot and El Triunfo seems to be making a comeback. We headed there unsure what we’d find and discovered a most enjoyable half day getaway.
The town is small. Just find a place to park and start walking. We first headed to the old mining grounds, easy to find if you simply follow a road towards the towering smokestacks. A few half-standing walls and old mining equipment mark what used to be the towns main source of income. Continue further up the hill, on a path marked by white rocks on either side, for a lovely view of the town.
Back in the center there truly isn’t much to see. However, our favorite way to embrace history is simply to meander side streets, searching for a glimpse into the past. A bit of money is obviously coming back to the town with buildings being restored as the town searches for its new future.
For additional sightseeing, you can check out the Museo de la Musica. Once the cultural hub of the area, El Triunfo still houses the pianos and instruments shipped here from all over the world during its heyday.
Wonderful photos ops aside, what was my primary focus on heading to El Triunfo? Well, food of course! The Caffe El Triunfo has recently joined up with the chic Bar el Minero and offers a simply fantastic dining experience. This over 100-year old building was turned into a hot-spot when Marcus Spahr, formerly of Caffe Todos Santos, began making some of the best bread we’ve ever eaten. And yes, that includes in France.
The pizza is wood-fired thin crust style. The sandwiches piled high on some of that amazing bread. The chocolate cookies as good as your moms. And on Sundays Bar el Minero offers up a paella that will satisfy anyone. Even though we devoured our lunch, one of the loveliest aspects of eating here is simply to sit and gaze at the history around you. To wonder where those 150-year old beams came from that are holding up the roof. To dream of ships carrying the bright blue floor tiles from Europe. To think of the 10’s of thousands of people who have come through this small town in the desert.
Friends are coming to visit soon and we will bring them to this tiny gem. To think about the past, reflect on new beginnings, and eat some damn good bread.