Journey to Copper Canyon; El Chepe Train
10 February 2015
January 22, 2105
DAY TWO (Continued)
There are some things that aren't easily put into words and the Copper Canyon is one of them. Here are the facts. The Copper Canyon is four times the size of our Grand Canyon. The train ride across the canyon covers over 400 miles; from Los Mochis to Chihuahua in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. There are 37 bridges and 87 tunnels. For years, the canyon was mined for silver, not for copper. It is named The Copper Canyon because of the color of its rocks. Especially vivid when the sun shines on them. The railway is an amazing feat displaying an incredible view. In my opinion, it should be added to the list as one of the "Wonders of the World."
The train stations, however, leave a lot to be desired.
The El Fuerte train station was a run-down, empty building with banos. We had read that the station would open one half hour before the train arrived and we could buy tickets then. But it was obvious, no one was going to show up.
"I knew we should have bought tickets beforehand." I said, starting to pace again. (But to order them online cost $35 American dollars per person more and that seemed like a waste of money.)
"Relax Terri." Jay said. "You're being a 'twitchy American.' 'It will probably be fine.'" (These are two borrowed sayings that we just love.) "I'm sure we can buy tickets on the train."
And he was right, of course. I was being a 'twitchy American' and it was fine and we were able to buy tickets on the train - cash only, though.
I love trains! Everything about trains. They are so comfortable. You can see everything and don't have the stress of driving. And the best part - besides the train whistle and the sound of the engine and the rickety movement over the tracks - you can get up and move around.
There are many adjectives I could use to describe the view. But instead, I will provide some photos and let your imagination do the rest. One thing I will say, is that, looking over the edge while we were crossing the bridges, was quite breathtaking.
It took us about six hours to get to our first stop, Barrancas. An hour or so before we got to Barrancas, we made another stop (it was either Temoris or Bahuichivo) where there were a half-dozen Tarahumara Indian ladies selling their wares to touristas hanging off the train cars. I felt like we were stupid, materialistic Americans until one tour guide told his people they were helping them to feed their families. This made me feel better and I, too, bought a small hand-woven basket and a beaded necklace.
Barrancas was cold. Really cold. I don't know the elevation, but Creel (where we would go the next day and was only 40 kilometers away) is 8500 feet above sea level. The sky was promising rain and the wind carried the chill through our bones. We added layers of clothes and wrapped scarves around our necks.
Our hotel was called Hotel Mansion Tarahumara and it had two turrets that made it look like a castle. The owner, Maria (think Linda Hunt), also owned the Mirador Hotel. (Only it was closed off season.) The Mirador sat behind the castle, on top of the canyon with spectacular views. After checking into our rooms, we all took a walk up there, with their local dogs guiding us.
Yes, dogs again. There were three or four that seemed to belong to the hotel - or so the dogs thought, anyway. Every time we would go for a walk, one, two, or several of them would join us.
We had a great view of the multitude of canyons from our vantage point. We could see the Hotel Divisidero; a famous hotel that hosts the best views from its rooms and restaurant. It looked as if it was literally built into the canyon, hanging over the edge. I guess, maybe it is.
Our hotel reminded me of a Mexican ski lodge. Our rooms were simple, built from a combination of wood logs and stone. Once again, the décor was filled with bright colors. The restaurant was an extension of a lounge area where one could relax on couches. The main room had a beautiful, large fireplace on the second level, overlooking the dining tables. There were couches and chairs around the fireplace. On a third level is where the band played while we had dinner. Dinner was a set menu, and the only game in town, as it was off-season. The music was a father/son duo, playing guitars and sax. Jay requested "Europa" (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Laughter), a song made famous by both Carlos Santana on guitar and Gato Barbieri on sax. And they knew it!
Later, Jay met with the duo and explained how he produced and arranged Gato's album and complimented them on how well they performed it.
It turned out to be a wonderful evening. Great music. Good food. No complaints.
We tucked in early, eager to see what the new day would bring us.