Christmas in Copper Canyon
The following story was submitted to us by Kay Gililand who describes her experience traveling with friends through Mexico’s Copper Canyon during the Christmas holidays. On this day, Kay recalls her experience riding the train into the Sierra Tarahumara and spending Christmas Eve at the Paraiso del Oso Lodge in Cerocahui. The holidays are a fascinating time to visit Copper Canyon.
The California Native is always thrilled to have groups of friends join our trips to this charming region of Mexico. We appreciate it when our guests share their stories with us and we like to add them to our blog for everyone to enjoy. Excerpts from her journal will be posted regularly, so check back often to learn more about Kay’s 11-day Copper Canyon Adventure.
December 24, Wednesday, Christmas Eve
Jessica’s knock on the door summoned us to a walk through El Fuerte. The town plaza was bordered by a church and public buildings with an elaborate ironwork gazebo at the center. Jessica had given us maps of El Fuerte, so it was easy to walk to the fort. The fort was constructed in 1610 under the order of the Viceroy of Montesclaros. We took pictures and hurried back for breakfast.
We returned to the Torres del Fuerte and walked through the lovely courtyard by the outside lounge area and into the dining room: papaya, watermelon, coffee, fresh orange juice, Mexican eggs, bacon, potato pancake and special toast.
It was not far to the train station. Bags were unloaded and we joined about 20 people waiting for the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad. A local boy carried my bag to the dock. Jessica gave us good maps of the train route and of the general area called Sierra Tarahumara, Barrancas del Cobre. We had assigned seats on the train but there were few passengers so we soon went wherever we wished. Favorite spots were a table in the dining car and standing on the platforms between the train cars. Those were the best viewing spots. Jessica pointed out typical plants of the thorn scrub: Kapok Tree, Palo Verde, Morning Glory Tree, Organpipe Cactus and Acacia. Many bridges and tunnels through spectacular mountains kept us on the platforms between the trains most of the time.
We got off the train at Bahuichivo Station. Our bags were loaded into a large van for the ride to the Hotel Paraiso del Oso (Paradise of the Bear). Located at kilometer 12 route 51 between Bahuichivo Station and Cerocahui, the lodge is in the Huetoibo Valley, Ejido de Cerocahui, Municipio de Urique, State of Chihuahua at an elevation of 5648 feet. Doug “Diego” Rhodes and Anna María Chavez de Rhodes own the 2.5 acre lodge and a 23 acre Rancho with horses. The theme is built around the enormous rock feature shaped like Yogi Bear, thus the name Paraiso del Oso.
Later, we went for a ride to Cerocahui. Diego picked up a family who were walking the road and then continued to the church where people were gathering for a posada because it was Christmas Eve. We looked into the church then walked about the town, bought food to take to a family, and returned to the plaza in front of the church to watch children trying to hit a piñata.
After a ride home, a few minutes of rest, a fire in the wood stove thanks to Jenny, we were off to the lodge for “ponche” (hot Christmas punch) and dinner. We were invited to a Midnight Mass with traditional dancing, but we were too tired and went to bed instead. Christmas Eve had been a delight.