Friday, December 17, 2010

Copper Canyon

Caught the local bus to the train station at 0745 which is 5 Kms outside town. The train arrived at 0830. We were told that the train is always on time: It may be yesterdays train but it is always on time. Although we had been allocated seats in the main carriage we choose to sit in the bar as you got a better view out of the window. It was very comfortable and we could eat our sandwiches without the guards worrying about the crumbs. We had brought ticket to Creel but as we were boarding the train met Dave Hensleigh, an American guide of Copper Canyon who advised us to go to Posada Barrancas, the stop before Creel as the views were better and it wasn't so touristy. He knew Lola in the town of Areponápunchi who was a great cook that had rooms to rent, so we changed our plans (which seems to happen a lot), but I'm getting ahead of myself. The train climbs about 2400 metres over the 150 or so Kms with 86 tunnels and 37 bridges over it's total length of 300 Kms. It took over 60 years to build and was finally opened in 1961. On leaving El Fuerte the first few Kms are through flat lands before starting to climb through tunnels. There was an area between the carriages where you could stick your head out the top half of the door and take photos. Just by it was this sign, but nobody was taking any heed. We past a reservoir that was 15 kms long as we were getting into the mountains over a bridge at it's top end and into the deeper gorges. ( Remember to go diddley did, diddley did as you watch)

Passed settlements and reminders of the times it didn't quite work out as it should. The train clung to the side of the mountains as it wound it's way upward.

At Temoris the celebration of the completion of the railway were held on the 24th November 1961. You can see the dedication in this photo. The track just further up does a 180 inside the mountain to come out at the higher level. Looking back at the track we had just passed from the other side of the river. As the last of the deep gorges are past we came out into more open country, past settlements, track repairs, dirt tracks (great place for a dirt bike) and over more bridges. At San Rafael local Tarahumaras Indians sold the most exquisite basketry and Jill found a protector on the train. We left the train at Posada Barrancas and were driven a short way to Lola's where we had a very comfortable room. As the day was still young we decided to go horse riding with Lola's husband to view the canyons. Joined by Carlos and Ilee, Dave's party, we set off at about 1500. Jill looks a bit apprehensive but soon got the hang as we had stood on the edge of the canyon. Look I'm on a horse! and Jill looks good on her horse Windy as well. After a great meal cooked by Lola we retired to another itchy night. Next day we went for a ride on the Copper canyon gondola
which had great views of the canyons,
and some small settlements of the Tarahumaras. In the rocks under the gondola was the ancient burial place of the Tarahumaras. One last look at the canyons
before we boarded the train back to El Fuerte.
A really memorable experience.

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