Journey to Copper Canyon; Stowaways, Searches, and One Photo Too Many
10 February 2015
Photo Above - Outside Los Mochis Bus Station
January 21, 2015
The six of us (Ed, Barb, Mary, Kirk, Jay and me) stood outside Hotel Marina El Cid at 0700 waiting for the "rojo truck" that we had arranged the previous night for an 0745 arrival at the Centro de Autobuses. We were to leave on the TAP bus at 0800 for a six-hour trip to Los Mochis. Then we would catch another ride - 90 minutes in a van to El Fuerte - where we would stay for the night.
At 0712, there was still no sign of the truck. Kirk was irritated, I was pacing, and Jay still had to stop at the ATM.
"Senor, donde esta rojo truck?"
Evidently there was a misunderstanding and although there was a note in the book that we needed a ride, no one called because when asked this morning, we said the arrangements had already been made. The Bell Captain makes the call and orders the truck.
0725. The tension is growing. We have to be at the bus station at 0745 and still no truck. Mary and I try to convince Jay that if we don't have time to stop at an ATM...
"There must be one in El Fuerte." I say.
"No!" Jay answers emphatically. "I'm not going without enough cash, Terri. Look. There is one here is this hotel and it doesn't even work. What if they only have one and it is broken?"
A valid point.
Now Kirk is having words with the Bell Captain and I'm still pacing, saying, "Maybe we should get a cab."
Just about then we see the red truck through the trees. We all breathe a sigh of relief.
It is 0728 and we board the truck, stop at an ATM, and arrive at the station just in time. It is 0745 exactly. Now we are all smiles.
The bus was very comfortable. Except for the television that was running constantly. During our six-hour trip they played Snow White (I can't remember the correct name, but it was the new one with Charleze Theron.), Don Juan, Il Divo Live at The Greek (this was great), and cartoons, all in Spanish, of course.
But the strangest thing happened when we loaded into the bus and were waiting to leave the station. I was sitting by the window, watching as the bus next to us was getting ready to leave. There was a small door, just beside the luggage compartment. Just as I looked over, a man sat down backwards into the open compartment. (I don't know if he had opened the door or if it had been left open for him.) He looked around and smiled sheepishly as he closed the door and locked himself in. The bus started and drove out of the station. With him in it!
What? Did I just see what I think I saw?
"Later, I leaned over to Mary and Kirk. "Help me make sense of what I saw." I said, and proceeded to explain about the man.
"I saw him too!" Kirk said, excitedly. "He was a stowaway."
"Right? Do you think he goes through the luggage?"
We pondered that thought for a few minutes.
"I hope there's not one on our bus." I said, wondering if someone was thrashing through our luggage as we spoke.
We were about two-thirds into our trip when the bus pulled over. It was a standard agricultural stop. They asked everyone but the very elderly and the children to get off the bus. The luggage compartment was open but it didn't look like they were searching anything. Later, Mary told me a gentleman had gone onto the bus and searched everything we had left on the bus. We were only there for ten minutes or so and it really wasn't a big deal.
Not five minutes after we left that stop, the bus pulled over again. This time it was the Federalies and they were searching for drugs. Everyone off the bus again. Except for the elderly. They searched our purses and backpacks, but again, didn't search our luggage. Not sure what that was about.
While we were waiting to get back on the bus, I realized this was a great opportunity for a photo. I began digging frantically through my backpack and as I lifted it up and out of the bag, there was a collective intake of breath with an "...OOOOH!" sound.
What? Do they think I have a gun?
"No. I don't think you should take a photo." Someone said.
"You had better ask." Kirk warned me.
Of course I would ask. I almost always remember to ask.
The crowd parted as I walked toward the armed officials standing behind the table searching backpacks. But before I could finish my request, "Por favor, senor, photo? Si or no?" All three shook their heads and one even raised his gun.
Feeling all eyes on me, I quickly retreated into the crowd and put my camera away.
Okay, so it wasn't a very smart thing to do, and I did feel a little bit awkward. But it would have made for such a good photo, don't you think?