One of the most magical little places anyone could visit is nestled away and hidden deep in the winding mountains closer to La Paz than Los Cabos, but definitely worth a look. El Truinfo is a tiny pueblo town of about 300-400 people that is rich in history and possesses an intangible aura of serenity and wonder. A quiet, friendly place still caught in a landscape of the old west as if time has stood still.
After silver and gold were discovered in the Southern Baja California mountains in 1862, miners from Mexico, Europe and the United States transformed the towns population almost overnight, from 320 inhabitants to more than 14,000 people of Italian, French, English American, German, Russian and Chinese ancestry looking to strike it rich. El Truinfo quickly became the the largest city of the Land's End region surpassing La Paz, and the near non-existent cities of Los Cabos.
Unlike booming mining towns all over the American west, El Truinfo's popularity did not turn the small Mexican town into Dodge City or Tombstone and there weren't any legendary gun fights at any O-Que-La Corral. Instead, El Truinfo became a cultural center where classical pianist and musician, Francisca Mendoza, taught and also performed her classical repertoire regularly. Soon pianos and instruments were brought to the city from all over the world.
Even Gustave Eiffel made the journey across the Atlantic to design a two story (35 meter) smokestack (not nearly as famous as his metal French Tower) with brick specially manufactured and brought over from England more than a century ago.
A piano museum still exists in El Truinfo, long after the mines were shut down in 1926 and the bustling city returned to its humble origins and peaceful town of solace and quiet gaiety. A city still under the Municipality of La Paz, the state capitol, located 25 miles north on Mexico's Highway 1. A trek of winding mountainous road on which many wagons transported and delivered pianos and supplies to the once booming miners town.
As reported a few years ago, the pueblito of El Truinfo is having many original buildings restored, enabling the former mining town to retain its step back into another time, slower paced lifestyle and charm. The town's glorious past, now giving way to a near ghost-like feel. Tourists and passersby can get a small something to grub at Cafe El Truinfo, which serves a dose of simple basics like coffee with fresh breads or pan dulce, and pizza. Cold drinks to refresh a hearty thirst in its warm climate are always available and roadside organic homegrown fruit and produce stands sometimes line the curve in the road.
The El Truinfo Piano Museum is open from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm and has a meager tour fee of $2 US American dollars. An amazing facet to consider and digest is the mere thought that in a town of just a few hundred residents, with a mini-market or two, in the middle of absolutely nowhere could one ever suspect or imagine would be host of an international piano museum. A well maintained, white and orange brick building seemingly parked like a hitch-hiker on the east side of the road, beckoning to be seen.
Rooms inside the museum house some fairly recent evolutions of the piano keyboard, including a 1960's electric organ. In the central room, stands a beautiful concert Steinway. The front rooms contain some turn of the century Baldwins, Steinways and even a very old Clavichord. An instrument Bach once wrote his music and one on which, his music sounds its best.
A French Provincial white grand piano sits in what is called the Provincial room. A place, tour guide, curator, and historian Senor Castro, has oft been referred to as a stylishly flamboyant, Mexican Liberace after performing his personal renditions of a classic or two. Among other musical instrument exhibits of the museum is their Stradivarius violin, cellos, horns and other stringed instruments.
In the museum's lobby, purchases of souvenirs, postcards and even a recording of Sr. Castro's piano interpretations can be made, or visitors are welcome to leave an added tip or thank you contribution to the museums legendary curator, guide and entertaining knowledgeable host. The town itself is always quiet with the only remains of the silver industry and heyday are the few smoke stacks and crumbling, paint-fading, local soft brick walls.
El Truinfo's a town where friendly residents speak limited to no English and a place many people hesitate to stop at on their journeys from travelling from and to La Paz, Los Barriles, Buena Vista or San Antonio. It's a place due to its above sea water elevation stays green past April.
A village; where its high altitude benefits are the trickles of water that still flow through the river channel around the tranquil town. A small town; with a school, market and a Catholic Church. A place rarely seen, but one to be thoroughly enjoyed. A town where anyone can capture an unforgettable piece of Baja California history.
"Some friends and I were driving back from La Paz and I didn't even know the place existed, but when we drove by I asked that we stop because it was really something right out of the old black and white pictures of where my grandparents and parents were born," said Edgar Flores, of California. "I was staying in San Jose del Cabo at the time and made it a point to go back and spend a good part of the day hanging around and checking it out."
From La Paz take Highway 1 south to El Truinfo. From Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, drive past the airport an hour north to El Truinfo past East Cape.