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Published: November 2nd 2009
Cross the border into Mexico at Agua Prieta. The hardest part is getting out of the US. They are so used to everyone nipping over into Mexico they just wave all the vehicles through so its really difficult to find anyone that you can hand your paperwork to. Even then they are reluctant to take it and keep saying ' are you sure you're not coming back to the US'. Seems inconceivable to them that anyone would want to stay in Mexico - mind you the chief of police in the next town along was gunned down yesterday so maybe they have a point. Having finally found someone to take the paperwork and spent and hour filling out forms a few miles down the road at the Mexican border post we are finally let loose in Mexico.
Not sure what we were expecting but we were pleasantly surprised by the high driving standards; no mayhem, no excessive use of the horn, an awareness of your presence behind them and that you are going to overtake. That's not to say its anything like driving in Europe. Solid white lines in the middle of the road are there to be crossed, especially
if you are approaching the brow of a hill. If the road surface is a bit dodgy the authorities either sprinkle it with gravel (especially favoured on bends) or leave it to develop into a big pothole which is easier to mend. Donkeys, cows, horses etc all find it easier to walk along the middle of the road then along the grass verge and have no intention of moving for a noisy wheeled object. Trucks indicating left usually means its safe to pass me but can ocassionally mean I'm pulling out
Travelled down the central corridor in Chichuachua state passing through Casas Grandes and Guerrero to Creel in the Sierra Tarahumara. The landscape is very, very green. I think we expected it to be more desert like with cacti everywhere but its either like an African savannah - sandy soil with lots of green, prickly, shrubs or its heavily cultivated. And sunflowers, there seem to be lots of sunflowers lining the roadside or other wild flowers mostly in shades of yellow or blue. The little villages are all very neat and tidy with brightly coloured houses. They look really pretty up on the hillsides just little patches of colour
still no cacti!!
in amongst the greenery. The are all typically Latin American with their central plazas and Spanish style, whitewashed churches. At lunchtimes the plazas are fully of locals sitting and chatting in the shade. As are only riding 260 miles/day we manage to sneak off to some ruins at Paquime where there are the remains of an abode city from 100-1200AD.
Just to keep us on our toes there are topes and dogs. The topes are double rows of large stainless steel balls embedded in the road to slow you down. They are quite challenging in two wheels. If you are lucky the locals will have gouged a couple out to make a gape just big enough for a motorbike wheel to squeeze through. The dogs just charge out of nowhere straight at you trying to bite your wheels. Some of the group see it as a challenge to slow down as see how long they can get the dogs to chase them for. We just speed up to get out of the way before one actually bites us or ends up under the front wheel, in which case we will probably end up on the ground.
they are everwhere
we ride through the Sierra Tarahumara and then down into Copper Canyon. When I say down I really mean down, the canyon is 6000ft deep and the road into it drops 2000feet in 40 miles with one section of 30 consecutive hairpin bends. Oh yes and its a dirt road with lots of rocky and muddy patches mostly only 1 lane wide with a thousand foot shear drop to one side with no crash barriers. The guide book description is 'accessible only by a 6 hour, nerve-wrenching drive on primitive dirt roads'. Have been on the road 'primitive dirt track' is quite a complement - most of the group are describing it as a donkey track. There are lots of spectacular views but generally I was too busy holding on and not looking down to take photos. It was a relief to get to the bottom in one piece. Having got to the bottom we have a rest day in Batopilas to recover and get ready for the ride out - yes there is only one road so we have to go back out the way we came in!!!
We relax on our day off by taking a Jeep
tour of the canyon & old silver mining town. When I say jeep I'm using the word it in the same way as the guide book says there is a 'road' into Copper Canyon - see photo. The town of Batopilas is very quaint with neat coloured houses, a nice place to hang out and relax and way down the valley is the Lost Cathedral an enormous church in the middle of nowhere. It was built by the Jesuits when the area was a silver mining boom town but is now abandoned. Just have getting out tomorrow to look forward to now.
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