Wed 10th to Thur 11th August
We arrived at the station for the Copper Canyon train by taxi. About the only other foreign passenger waiting was Josephine, a 70 year old lady from the Philippines who is travelling on her own. She planned to travel with her husband but was sadly widowed in 2008. Still wanting to see the world she set off in March, visiting Canada and the States before coming into Mexico. So far she has already been to Cancun and taken a two day bus journey to Mexico City!
Josephine at the station.
We enquired as to whether she had heard the same stories regarding drug wars, robbery and violence in Mexico. Apparently she had but wanted to come anyway because of the cultural ties. Both countries were colonised by the Spanish and lots of the galleons that came to Mexico for the gold and silver were built in the Philippines. She says she has been surprised by the kindness of everyone, the cleanliness of everywhere and so far has not felt threatened at all.
The Train eventually arrived and we set off on what promised to be a spectacular train journey through the Sierra Madre mountains. The line is 406 miles long has 86 tunnels, 37 bridges and took approx 90 years to build.
One of the guards protecting us from the Bandidos.
The Indian ladies selling their wares along the track for ridiculously low prices. None of the baskets would have a hope of surviving even a day on the bikes. So be thankful girls.
It had been our intention to take the train to Creel but in the end decided to get off before that at Pasada Barrancas. We were told this was the best place from which to view Copper Canyon as it was closest to the rim. The train journey was about five hours and took us through lots of mountainous country. The railway had been literally cut out from the side of the mountain in places with sheer drops as you looked out of the window. Rather scarily there were a number of wagons lying at the bottom having left the tracks in the past for one reason or another.
As we got off the train the hotels had buses at the station waiting to pick up pre-booked guests or touting for custom. We negotiated a room and a couple of short tours with 'Cabanas Diaz Family resort' and Josephine decided to rough it with us.
Where we stayed was effectively a few cabins surrounding the home of our hosts on their small farm. Eating was in their extended kitchen with all the cooking done by the family.
Panorama of Copper Canyon (you need to double click on it)
Our impression from the rim of Copper Canyon was that although it is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon for instance, it was not as visually impressive as some we have seen on our travels.
It's a long way down. Just under 6000 feet to the bottom.
At dinner were a young Australian couple who had just arrived from Creel. They suggested that Creel wasn’t worth visiting unless we wanted to go on a long tour as there was not much at Creel within easy reach. They had also heard that the road to Batopilas had been washed away and wasn’t accessible. These were the two other places we were thinking of visiting so decided not to bother and return to El Fuerte. With no internet, television or bar it was an early night on rather uncomfortable beds but at least it was cool up here.
Thurs 11th August
We visited an Indian village, or more accurately, a few dwellings nestling on the mountain edge under the overhanging cliffs. It amazes me how these people survive in such a hostile and primitive environment and what they must think about all the trappings of modern life that they see about them.
Just below the village is the playground of the tourist and middle class Mexican, ‘The Parque de Aventura' with incredibly long zip wires and rope ladders that crisscross the canyons, as well as a cable car for the less adventurous. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to have a go but just managed to sneak this shot on one of the bridges.
Waiting for the return journey to El Fuerte. The train that Bob says ‘is always on time’ was an hour and a half late and everyone seemed happy when it finally arrived.