Jan 16th: Tonite we are parked at a lovely RV Park called Villa Celeste Resort on the beach about sixty miles north of Mazatlan. We arrived just in time to set up camp, make Margaritas and watch the sun set into the sea. The young couple who manage the park are considered to be two of the most conscientious park managers in Mexico. We were able to catch up on our laundry and take scalding hot showers with plenty of water pressure. This is a rare treat in Mexico!
The Copper Canyon rail trip which had long been on our “bucket list” was indeed beautiful. Even though Mexico’s Copper Canyon is about four times as large as our Grand Canyon, it somehow failed to live up to expectations. This is probably because explorations require the use of a guide and one cannot see much from the train. Up until a few years ago the Copper Canyon rail trip was a popular RV caravan excursion. Rigs were loaded on flat bed rail cars to do this journey. Thank God we had never ponied up the bucks to make that trip. Our second class train was comfortable. It was about eight hours
each way to Creel where we over-nighted in a hotel. Creel is at an elevation of 7,650 feet. No snow but plenty cold. It reminded Ray and me of Harlem, Montana. Just Paul, Terry, Ray and I made the trip. Pat and Gord watched the pets while Jane and Bill toured Alamos.
Here I quote AAA’s Mexican Tour book: “The Copper Canyon comprises more than twenty canyons covering over 25,000 square miles. The region is inhabited by the Tarahumara Indians. These mountain dwellers have managed to preserve their way of life more successfully than any other Native American groups. Although sharing a common ancestry with the warrior-like Aztecs, the peaceful Tarahumara could not have been more different. Settling the plains of the central Mexican state of Chihuahua, they grew corn, beans and squash, constructing irrigation canals to make the land productive. The Tarahumara took advantage of more than 250 varieties of edible and medicinal plants and were renowned for their stamina, chasing down game through sheer dogged determination until the animals collapsed from exhaustion.
During the 17th century Spanish settlers enslaved many Tarahumara, forcing them to toil in mines and carry goods across terrain that was too tough
for even horses to negotiate. To escape servitude many of them retreated into the remote Copper Canyon sierra country. Their descendents continue to live here today, working small ranches or farms and living in simple huts. Some more reclusive Tarahumara still dwell in remote mountain caves in the summer, migrating to the warmer canyon bottoms in winter.” The men wear ordinary men’s Western wear down to pointy boots and straw cowboy hats while the women wear flouncy colorful cotton skirts and blouses usually with shawls, shoes and no socks. Women and children were hawking crafts and food items everywhere. Several spaced out men with blackened hands and ears approached us for handouts. Terry says the blackened extremities are an indication that these people habitually sniffed chemicals.
This area was totally isolated until the construction of the Chihuahua-Pacific railroad began in 1898. The railway was not completed until 1961. The 588 mile rail line runs from near Presidio, Texas to Topolobampo, Mexico with 99 tunnels and 39 bridges.
It was nearly 9:00 p.m. when we arrived back at El Fuerte where we caught a taxi to the campground. The gate was locked. Bill and Gord woke the watchman who
was totally wasted. They had had fun watching the watchman and his buddy drink and fall out of their hammocks all day. The watchman either had no key or had forgotten where it was. Fortunately Paul found an opening in the wall surrounding the campground.
Furgie was glad to see us. Normally, at home she will snub us for a while after we leave her home alone but in our small camper quarters it is simply not possible to avoid anybody.
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