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(Republished from 2012 in honor of the passing of Amaranto Celaya on July 17, 2015)
If the creative writing workshop one week prior to the 2012 Puerto Peñasco Book Fair was the prologue, the epilogue came on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 9th, as people streamed into the Municipal Auditorium for an official recognition paying homage to city chronicler Amaranto Celaya Celaya. Celaya, originally from Altar, Sonora where he was born November 4th, 1944, has served in various capacities in Puerto Peñasco including as administrator with the CFE (Federal Electricity Commission), Mason, baseball player – coach and aficionado, journalist, poet, writer, and visionary.
Among his literary works, Amaranto’s anecdotal book Andanzas: un torno a un río, un mar y el sol del desierto (Wanderings: about a river, a sea, and the desert sun) retells the stories of individuals from the region of Altar, Caborca and Puerto Peñasco through 67 stories spread across 400 pages. Not one to let the journey end, Celaya’s follow-up continues in Andanzas II: Avatares which is currently nearing completion. As a journalist, Amaranto is the founder and current director of the local publication El Sol de Peñasco and persists with his dream to see the establishment of the Puerto Peñasco Historical Museum, along with a Hall of Fame for athletes from Peñasco. During Sunday’s honorable recognition of Celaya, Puerto Peñasco mayor Prof. Gerardo Figueroa Zazueta expressed the museum will become a reality, promising “…we will take up the project once again this coming January.”
Amaranto’s love for the region, Puerto Peñasco itself, the sea, the desert and the stories to be told are further evidenced with his active role with the Gran Desierto de Altar and Pinacate Biosphere Reserve where for the past several years he has led people to the Pinacate to honor the travels of Jesuit Priest Padre Kino through this region. As it is told, it is from atop the Pinacate where Padre Kino first saw that Baja California was a peninsula rather than an island.
Seated by Amaranto’s side throughout the speeches and comments praising the work of the city’s chronicler was Rosalba, his bride of nearly 45 years. Amaranto himself was visibly moved by the words of each speaker – from a retelling of his education and career to reliving his passion for baseball, and the prologue to Andanzas written by Nina Mier. Though his life has been full of words, perhaps there are not words enough to define Amaranto himself, as summed up by presenter Dr. José Natividad “All the dictionaries in the world are not enough to define Amaranto as a grand man.”
Upon accepting a recognition plaque from the Mayor, Amaranto concluded the afternoon by addressing the audience filled with family, friends, Masonic brothers, and other members of the community, “I will never be able to find the ideal way to thank you for your constant support and trust, and I just hope you understand that my ideals, strengths and achievements, if there are some, have also been that of my friends and inspired in them. May the grand architect of the universe, the grand God, bless you all.”