Barranca del Cobre and the last train ride in Mexico

Hi All,

Here we go again. This is my first post from the road. I’m writing this from a beautiful colonial town in central Mexico called Zacatecas. I’m gonna divide this into a few sections as quite a lot has happened in the last few days.

1. Mountain-biking
2. Canyon trip
3. Horseback-riding

Mountain – biking

After a day of travel I finally made it to Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), one of the 13 natural wonders in Mexico. I took it easy that first day, as I got there late, and there was no time for anything but metting my roomies and eating dinner. Speaking of the roomies, they all turned out really cool, two Australians, a German, and a Finish guy. We all had dinner together and got to know each other a bit better. Later that night we went to the next door cafe and the owner (ex-banker from Guadalajara) kindly let us watch a movie there. It was weird…despite his assurance that it was a good movie!
At about 9.30 we were all knackered and headed back to the hostel. A few minutes later, all of us were fast asleep. Well, almost all! I couldn’t sleep as a) my feet were cold and b) the guy sleeping above me was snoring like a bear! I was trying to fall asleep before he did for the rest of my stay there.

Anyhow, next day, nice and early (woken up by church bells) we all had breakfast and wanted to go horseback-riding together (all 6 of us). However, there weren’t six horses available, so the guys went and me and Miguel (snoring guy) rented bikes and spend the rest of the day exploring the surounding areas. We visited a Tarahumara (name of local indigenous community, also called ‘Raramuri’ in their language) living quarters (read as ‘cave’), we saw some interesting rock formation in the Valle de los Hongos (Mushroom Valley) and Valle de los Monjes (Monk Valley), a Tarahumara mission, and we chilled near Lago de Arareco (Lake Arareco). We managed to get lost on the way to Valle de los Monjes and came across a four-petalled flower plantation 🙂 I had never seen anything like it before and I guess I’m the luckiest person in the world.

The whole day was kinda slow, not only because we took our time but because Miguel walked uphill and hardly moved downhill. Me, as a good cycling buddy had to walk with him, to keep him company, not that I was tired 😉

Speeding downhill was exhilarating though, I tried to do as fast as possible.

Back to the Tarahumara people – amazing to look at but not very friendly at all.

Ok, that was Day 1.

Canyon trip

On my 2nd day in Creel, we went to explore the surrounding canyons. We went to several mirradores (observation points). The first and the smallest canyon of all was the most impressive in my oppinion. Maybe because we were able to admire it from the nearby rocks instead of organised observation points.

Next we carried on to some mirradores from where one could see all three canyons at once. Some amazing views!

On to lunch, where I had gorditas y chille relleno (stuffed pepper). The tortillas were black and red (different types of corn) and rather expensive.

On the way back home we got stuck in traffic as all road in and out of the village were blocked due to a local race. I’m glad we got stuck as we got to see it. It was pretty amazing – you could see Tarahumara women running barefoot and wearing traditional costumes (a very long skirt and a shirt, both very colorful). We also saw a Tarahumara man wearing a traditional costume ( a long short, a sort of a hair band, and sandals made of old tires and leather straps. Speaking of the sandals – I picked them up at the market, just so I can look at them. They were very heavy, because of the tire bottom, I can’t believe people ran in them.

Anyhow, a Western girl (someone I saw at the hostel the night before) also ran the race. We later became friends and went out for the night.

We were back at the hostel around lunch. I went out for a walk to kill some time, but it started raining and I quickly went back to the hostel. That’s when we met the runner girl (a Portuguese named Brigida), a lovely Mexican girl – Carmina, and a Japanese guy (Gandji). We started talking, went for coffee and cake, dinner, and drinks. At the bar we met some Americans who were travelling the canyon on motorbikes. Pretty cool!

Rewind, after the rain stopped, I heard the train coming. Now this is a special train as it is the last one in Mexico. The original idea was to take the train through the canyon before I make my wy down. However, going where I was headed turned out to be very difficult that way, and after much consideration I decided to take the bus back instead. So, at the end I didn’t ride Mexico’ last train (‘El Chepe’) but I sure ran from the hostel to the station to take a picture of it. The railway is an engineering mirracle with its 650km, 36 bridges, and 87 tunnels (all that through a canyon at times deeper that the Grand Canyon in US).

Time to sleep.

Horseback – riding

This was the most memorable part of my trip to Barranca del Cobre, and by far the most memorable part so far. We rented horses and a guide who took us to the Tararecua Canyon and Rukiraso Waterfall. AMAZING!

The first time the horse galloped was one of the best things I have ever experienced! That was also when we had a rather major accident. Me and Roberto (our guide) were galloping next to each other when we ran through some paddles of water and moist dirt. Roberto’s horse slipped and fell down dragging Roberto down. Luckily, the horse didn’t roll over him, and he ended up just wet and dirty (and so did the horse). For the following gallops, I made sure I was far from anyone else and avoided moist ground. It gave me a serious scare. Who know what would have happened if it were me…

Now is the time to mention what a great guide and a person Roberto is. He helped us with the horses, took us to amazing spots, sang for us (we all did actually), told us stories and all in the cool, calm manner of a down-to-earth, peaceful cowboy.

The singing bit was so cool. It all started the night before when Oscar (a tourist guide from Chihuahua, interested in foreign cultures) asked me to sing a Bulgarian song for him. I chose ‘Nazad, nazad mome Kalino’, a dramatic song about love. I didn’t sing much that night, but I told Oscar I would sing for him the day after. So, he sang in Spanish, I sang in Bulgarian, and Roberto sang a beautiful, old Mexican song. Apparently, it was a favourite of his grandfather’s (very suicidal too).

Ok, after about 2h of riding we got to the canyon. I couldn’t find my words when I saw it. Despite being only a small one, the feeling was intensified by being able to stand on the edge of the rocks falling deep down the canyon. Going to the edge of a rock, sort of balancing on the edge of the canyon was an amazing feeling!

This was followed by some relaxing time by the waterfall, where Roberto told us his story. Although, I only spent 5h with Roberto, he is the one person that I liked the most.

Time to make our way back and get ready to depart for Zacatecas.

PS I have been trying to upload photos as well, but haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet.

Check them out on FB: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=331135&id=752200606&l=19f5e851ad

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