After having a great time in Baja California Sur we took the ferry to the mainland to begin the next phase of our journey, The Copper Canyon Railway. The train is a marvel unto itself as it passes through an area similar to our grand canyon, but through more tunnels and bridges than any other railroad in the world. Overall, the train was very slow but as we got deeper and deeper into the canyon the scenery changed from the Mexican desert to alpine forest, complete with crisp air scented with pine.
The hostel in Creel was a nice enough hostel filled with backpackers and other interesting travelers. I mention it though not for this reason but for the strange messages we found there. On the ceiling some had written “Detras de las voces des mundo es la risa Mexicana” (behind the voices of the world is the laugh of Mexico) and on the wall was a National Geographic map that said “Voices of the World”. Naturally, I took down the map (everyone else was looking at me as though I had two heads because they hadn’t noticed the connection) and found the below image behind it. Our first postcard will go to whoever comes up for the best meaning of this sign.
We began our Creel bicycle trip the next morning once we re-negotiated the price of the bike rentals from the hostel and headed off to the ‘reservation’ of the Tarahumara. These are indigenous peoples, related to the Apache and Hopi in the United States. Mostly they keep to themselves but the ninos are always willing to come to you and put out a hand and as for un peso while the ninas say compre as they hold up some handicrafts to sell. These children don’t actually speak Spanish, they just know enough to ask you to buy things or give them money.
Overall the biking was not too terribly special, mostly fire-roads through the wilderness that this mountain biker would not have called mountain biking. Having said that, about 30 minutes into our trip Jill slipped and sliced the back part of her calf on the gears of the bike. We have run countless adventure races, are trained in wilderness first aid, and always carry a very large first aid kit- which was safely stashed back at the hostel. I know, we’re idiots. Luckily, despite the depth of the cut, it was just in the flesh and made it into town for a visit to the clinic where we were told stitches were not required.
The clinic however was another story in that it was filled with Tarahumara whom we believed were there for routine care. Jill however was ushered straight in and take care of immediately, we assume because she is gringa and therefore could pay. Of course they wouldn’t let me back with her so Jill had to manage by herself, in Spanish, with only her Italian to get her through. Ahh, I love my wife. The nun did an exceptional job of digging all the dirt out of the cut with a bar of soap and some water. Luckily, when they needed to know if she was pregnant they thought to play charades rather than just speaking slowly!
Once we got Jill taken care of Sévérine, our new traveling companion, and I (it was only noon) continued with our bike tour, quickly finding the hidden trail (there was a sign) that other travelers said was impossible to find. We made our way to a waterfall (which wasn’t there) and to the lake which was nice, but filled with Tarahumara children who wanted to sell their wares, we gave them some apple instead. We then headed back as we weren’t wearing bike shorts and things were beginning to hurt where they shouldn’t.
Creel was certainly a nice place to visit and one could spend more time there but it had been enough for us. I think the most memorable part of the stay was later than evening when two stray dogs, or rather a perro and a perra, began to follow us. We changed direction, crossed the street, entered stores, got them to cross the tracks but no matter what we did they just kept following us. Eventually we realized that the perro was only interested in the perra so we know it was her that was following us but we still don’t know why. Finally we gave up and headed back to the hostel for dinner, an hour later when we left it took less than 30 seconds for them to find us again. We’re not sure what it was about us (Jill and Sévérine think it was me they were following) but it made for some good fun.