Just after writing the last post, we went out for a beer with Peter (our couchsurfing host) who shared his travelling philosohpy – put no stock in the final destination, and see everything, even if it´s out of the way. In short, he convinced us to change our ferry tickets and head to Copper Canyon. We changed the tickets in the morning, then had to suddenly scramble to catch it when we learned the ferry station was 15 miles outside La Paz. The ferry was remarkable for only two things: it included a damn good meal, and there was nowhere to sit where you ouldn´t see and hear a television.
We got into Topolobampo at 9:30 pm and balked at the only hotel´s 480 peso price tag, so we set off into the night to try our luck camping. The cops found us poking around and alerted us to their presence by cocking their automatic rifle (okay I don´t know what kind of gun it was, but it was big). But after we explained what we were after, they showed us to a better spot. By a nearby gravel pit stood a lonely tree, under which Jesus, ´el vigilante´had built a shelter. He was very welcoming and let us spend the night. I had a strange awakening – Jesus was gone, but he´d been replaced by several other people, one of whom arrived in a Caterpillar. They were there to conduct a business meeting under the tree, regarding the gravel pit, but first they made delicious breakfast burritos over an open fire.
We rode into Los Mochis, where we learned that the train to Copper Canyon wasn´t for two days. We ended up meeting Abraham, an amazingly generous Los Mocheño, who let us stay at his house, shared a giant fish his friends and he had caught with a stick and piece of tortilla, took us out to a club, bought me medicine when I got sick from eating undercooked fish, and tried to give us everything he could think of from his house. It was a great time, great to spend time with someone our age. But at 4 am on Sunday we had to say goodbye and set off for the train station. It is an amazing train ride, climbing 7000 feet through gorges and along cliffs, a great way to arrive at Copper Canyon.
We spent two nights in Creel to get used to the altitude and explore the nearby rock formations – there is soft volcanic rock that wears easily, producing bizarre shapes: mushrooms, frogs, monks. Then we set out, one of our hardest days yet, repeatedly dropping into the canyons only to climb back out. They have a ridiculous notion of what a reasonable grade is, which makes for a beautiful but extremely difficult ride. To make things worse, I passed Cooper without realizing it and pushed for hours to try to catch up to him, wondering angrily why the hell he hadn´t stopped yet. I finally stopped just before sunset, and he rolled up 20 minutes later, so no harm done. A storeowner told us we could camp behind his store, but we couldn´t get a stake in so we slept under his semi. It got well below freezing, so we both spent cold, miserable, largely sleepless nights. Halfway through, I realized we´d been on the road 4 months – what a way to celebrate.
Today started out as climby as ever, but just as I was ready to dispair, it levelled out, so we pushed ahead to Guachochi and a hotel (for only 180 pesos, with no haggling!), not eager to spend another night at those firigid temperatures. The scenery was less spectacular than yesterday, but for the first time in ages we´re riding through trees – beautiful pine forests cover all the hills.
We plan to continue to Parral and then to Durango, but from there we have only a rough idea of things we want to see…I won´t give them away. Since last I wrote, I have become much less focussed on arriving in Ushuaia. Much worse than not making it there would be to make it there by blazing past all sorts of spectacles without taking the time or money to see them. No longer is the fastest, cheapest way the best way – I´ll go so far as the money lasts.
The connection here is painfully slow, so I´m not going to upload pictures until next time. Sorry! What pictures…