Friday, March 15, 2013

Barrancas del Cobre - Last Leg

Our bus back to Mazatlán left at 9:30. This time, instead of Primera Clase, we had tickets for Servicio Confort. The main difference, as far as I could tell, was that as we boarded the bus we were each handed a bag with a sandwich, a cookie, chips, water and a soda. This bus also made fewer stops - our only stop between Los Mochis and Mazatlán was in Culiacán. We were back at the boat by 3:00.

There are a few things we will do differently if we make this trip again.
  • Build in an extra day at Posada Barrancas. The altitude change was really noticable, and it would have been better to have a day to acclimate. We could also have gone down into the canyon from here.
  • Do at least one trip down into the canyon. You can do this via ATV, jeep donkey or horse. Batopilas and Urique two towns at the bottom that are both supposed to be quite worth visiting.
  • Go right after the rainy season. Apparently there are a lot of waterfalls - many visible from the train - if you go in November or December.
All in all it was an absolutely fantastic trip, and I am very glad we decided to do it.

Back to Los Mochis

Sunday, it was time to take the train back to Los Mochis. Since our train didn't leave until 11:00, we had time to visit the local museum, which Gail and Murray had gone to the previous afternoon. It was pretty interesting, but unfortunately no pictures were allowed, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The train ride back was at least as spectacular as the trip up.

There is a little market area at Divisadero, and each time we were there, we got gorditas, which are thick corn tortillas that are split and filled with cheese and the meat of your choice. Delicious!

The rock formations that erosion has caused are often quite spectacular.

By the time we reached El Fuerte, it was dark. We grabbed a bite in the dining car and then slept the rest of the way back to Los Mochis.

Barrancas del Cobre - Back to the Canyon

Since we had some extra time, and since Art had missed going to the canyon the previous day, we decided to use the second half of our last day in Creel to go back to the cable car. The weather was also much better, so i was hoping that I'd get some better photos. I wasn't disappointed. It takes about an hour to drive from Creel to the cable car - on a surprisingly good road that criscrosses the train tracks several times.

There's a river way down in the bottom there:

Art standing on a viewing platform the juts out over the canyon. In the wind, which there thankfully was little of this day, the platform feels a little, well, mobile.

Before we went back over to Divisadero, we watched this guy climb out on the balancing rock. It wobbles quite a lot. Jose told us that he used to go out on it, but about six years ago, a Canadian woman went on it, freaked out while she was standing up, and fell. She died. Jose doesn't go out on the rock anymore. Neither did we.

Then we went back over to Divisadero, for some more fabulous views:

This little bridge is called the swinging bridge. And yes, it does. I tried to time my crossing of it so that I would be the only person on it, but of course, failed. I was actually amazed I managed to go across it and didn't wind up wimping out and going around on the side of the road.

We went back to Creel from here, and met up with Gail and Murray to listen to Jose play the guitar at the Best Western, which actually had a pretty nice bar. We tried to have dinner at the same place as the night before, but they seemed to be out of everything we wanted to order - I guess we spent a little to much time listening to music and having drinks. So we went to a place a couple of doors down and had a nice dinner with musicians that were good enough to get a couple of people up and dancing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Barrancas del Cobre - Day 4: Tamahumara

We met our tour guide, Jose, at 10:00 on Saturday morning. Gail and Murray would come with us for the first part of the day, and then Jose would take us back to the tram that Art had missed the day before. I was looking forward to getting some pictures of the canyon while the sun was shining, too.

Our first stop was a Tarahumara settlement in a valley. The Tarahumara are indians that fled into the Sierra Madre to avoid the Spanish. They are know for running crazy long distances, barefoot. Many of them still live in their traditional cave dwellings, although there's been quite a bit of effort expended to get them proper houses, with heat. Apparently the winter of 2011-12 was extremely cold, and several people froze to death in the caves. The women weave beautiful baskets out of pine needles and grasses. We came home with several baskets.

There were quite a few more conventional houses scattered around as well.

The Tarahumara are subsistence farmers - they grow mostly corn and beans. The season at these altitudes must be incredibly short - we saw nothing growing while we were there. We did see an irrigation canal - the water is diverted to various places by moving the piles of rocks around.

There is a church here, but the tarahumara have sort of adapted Catholicism to their traditional beliefs. The white stones in the facade of the mission represent the sun, moon and stars.

After the town, Jose took us to a very pretty lake. Again, we were strongly reminded of the Sierra Nevada.

We dropped Murray and Gail off at the museum in town, and headed back to Divisadero and the tram.

Barrancas Del Cobre - Day 3, Pt 2

The ride from Posada Barrancas to Creel is a short one - about two hours. We boarded the train at about 2:00.

On the way to Creel, we passed a small forest fire.

To say that we were underwhelmed when we got to Creel would be a bit of an understatement. There's not much there, and I immediately started to wonder if I'd made a mistake booking us here for two nights.

 We dropped our stuff at the hotel and met up with Murray and Gail, who were staying at a different place, for dinner. Managed to find a good restaurant on the recommendation of their driver, and made an early night of it in anticipation of a busy day in the morning. Our hotel included a tour of the local area, and Murray and Gail decided to go with us.