Had a great time in Copper Canyon!

We appreciate it when our guests share their stories with us and allow us to post them on our blog. Recently, Ted McGrath who lives in Vancouver, Canada, returned from our California Native adventure in Copper Canyon and wrote:

California Native sent Rob Aikins from San Diego as our guide, Rob was excellent. Great personality, loaded with local knowledge, an awesome wit and ability to deal calmly and politely with any off the wall situations. Rob spoke perfect Spanish and at every stop knew just about everyone we met. He worked diligently to make our trip a seamless time where all we had to do was enjoy the experience while he attended to the detail of herding cats. He left nothing to chance!

El Fuerte
Hotel Torres del Fuerte has big rooms, high ceilings, air conditioning, bottled water, wi-fi in the hotel lobby area. Each of the 25 rooms decorated uniquely. Nice large inner courtyard. Lets call the place “charming”.

El Fuerte to Divisadero
The train ride from El Fuerte to Divisdearo was as awesome a train ride as one can find. The ride through the canyon has to be seen to be appreciated. 86 tunnels, 36 bridges with interesting rock formations. The train was great. Air conditioned, good seating and the meal at lunch very tasty.

Tarahumara woman at Lake Arareko
A Tarahumara woman is selling baskets and small items at the shore of Lake Arareko.

The Hotel Mirador at Divisadero sits right on the edge of Urique Canyon and the view is stunning. We took a gondola ride across the canyon where three of the main Copper Canyon complex of canyons join – cool!

Divisadero to Creel
From Divisadero, the train on to Creel is not as scenic. The hotel (Best Western Creel) has nice rustic western themed public space. One could think you were on vacation in Montana–western themed rooms too.

Creel to Batopilas
After one night in Creel we departed to Batopilas. Along the way we stopped at a Tarahumara cave home, and then two stops at unique rock formations. One with “mushroom” like outcroppings and one (the valley of the monks) with a proliferation of tall (really tall!) rounded rocks. About noon we stopped at a roadside home for a classy picnic lunch.

In Batopilas we walked to Mision Del Sataveo. On the way to the mision we stopped at a Tarahumara school and handed out school supplies and visited the nearby cemetery. We also visited the local museum in Batopilas and the crumbling previous property (Hacienda) of a silver mining company.

Batopilas to Creel
On the return trip to Creel we stopped again at the roadside home for lunch and went to the waterfall near Cusarare. Nice diversion, neat waterfall.

Ruins of the Shepherd Hacienda in Batopilas.
Ruins of the Shepherd Hacienda in Batopilas, at the bottom of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. It was once one of the richest silver mining cities in the world.

Creel to Chihuahua
After leaving Creel for Chihuahua we stopped at a Mennonite home for lunch. There’s a huge Mennonite presence in Chihuahua state, they are very successful farmers and it shows in their opulent homes and ample modern farm implements. On the drive into Chihuahua we passed many fields of apple orchards. The state is the major apple growing region in Mexico. Arrived in Chihuahua around 2:30 pm, checked into the lovely Holiday Inn & Suites in Centro. Next we were given an introductory tour of the city centre–the Zocalo, cathedral and drive by Hidalgo’s museum and a gorgeous early 20th century home now belonging to the University of Chihuahua (Mansion ‘Quinta Gameros’). This was the end of the California Native tour except for a farewell dinner at a Centro restaurant, El Retablo.

The group left for El Paso the next day.

Ted McGrath
Vancouver Canada

My Copper Canyon Adventure — Day 3

Cerocahui Christmas Morning, Urique Canyon Christmas Day

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. In this entry, Kay learns how Christmas cheer spreads from the lodge in  Cerocahui to the village of Urique, deep in the valley below.

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 25, Thursday, Christmas Day

Jenny brought coffee from the lodge and made a fire. I wrote in my journal. The shower was nice and hot, breakfast was delicious including the bañuelos.  I turned them over and filled all the little spaces with cinnamon and sugar: delicious.  Laurie and Jenny helped stuff candy into a piñata. Children and parents began arriving and soon the piñata was swinging from a rope held by a boy on the roof. Diego started each child off and soon the piñata was broken and candy scattered out over a pile of children diving for it. Afterward Anna María handed out toys and toothbrushes and the children were delighted. The stuffed toys became prized possessions for each child and especially among the older girls.

We had a few minutes to get ready for a van ride to Urique Canyon. Along the way Diego picked up a man walking. We stopped at lookouts and then at a cave along the road. Diego Rhodes said at one time a family lived there, two parents and ten children. Now it is their shop and we bought baskets from a young girl inside the cave. It was my first basket purchase. The basket is made from the leaves of an agave plant and pine needles. We stopped at Mirador Cerro de Gallego, bought baskets, my second, and watched a family preparing and cooking goat meat. Later we visited that family in their home. From the lookout we could see our dirt road far below us with winding switchbacks clear to the bottom of the Urique Canyon.

As we approached the town we stopped to see a cemetery and then walked to Tortillerî Paulina Restaurant Plaza for a delicious lunch in an outdoor patio surrounded by flowers, other plants, and joyfully drunk people. We walked down the main street of town where trucks full of families lumbered toward an area near the Urique River. We turned back because of the dust and walked back up the main street. Young boys were driving four-wheelers up and down the street. By the time we got back toward town, people had cordoned off the central part of the street for a celebration. Diego drove back up the dirt road picking up those who were walking—a man, a family, some children—and dropping them off wherever they wanted at seemingly desolate places with no building in sight.

We stopped at the house of a Tarahumara family whom we had met at the lookout, Paula and Fabian. We saw their grain storage, the house, the fields of corn, some beans and melon, some apple trees, and the new room they had just built.

Back at the lodge, we had time to rest and write until 7:00 P. M. The five of us had a margarita together and then dinner: turkey and apple dressing. Off to bed afterwards, Jenny and I talked until late that night.

Images of the World: The Children

This is the second in our series of Images of the World taken over the course of the last twenty-five years since the founding of The California Native.

In Mexico’s Copper Canyon, a Tarahumara girl carries her baby sister on her back. In Mexico's Copper Canyon, a Tarahumara girl carries her baby sister on her back.
In Chilean Patagonia youngsters demonstrate traditional dances. In Chilean Patagonia youngsters demonstate traditional dances.
In a remote Laotian village, near the Mekong River, villagers wear traditonal clothing. A young student in a remote Laotian village wears traditonal clothing.
Young monks eating their once-a-day meal in a monastery in Myanmar (Burma). Young monks eating at monastery in Myanmar (Burma)
Boys from a small Laotian village have fun swimming in a tributary of the Mekong River. Boys swimming in tributary of Mekong River.
A mother selling produce in a market stall keeps her baby safe in a cardboard box, in China’s Yunan Province. Lady with baby in a cardboard box in Yunan, China.
In Laos, a boy carries his little brother while his friend balances a ball. In Laos, a boy carries his little brother while his friend balances a ball.
Three young boys, in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, pose for us on their way home from school. In Bhutan, three young boys on their way to school.