Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Copper Canyon, Part Three

After our hike, we retreated to the Mirador to enjoy the view as we lunched on quesadillas and read our books. In conversation with our favorite waiter, Lupe, we learned that he was from El Fuerte and he told us about all kinds of things we had missed while we were there, including a set of petroglyphs by the river. So we decided to return to El Fuerte for a day on our way back to La Paz.

Dinner that night at Cabanas Diaz started with a small bowl of aromatic lentil soup with onions and garlic, followed by a large bowl of chicken soup with carrots and zucchini, accompanied by rice. The meal concluded with a bowl of sliced banana floating in a soupy sweet yogurt for dessert. Small Diaz children ran around the living room and peeked over our shoulders as we ate.

In the morning there was frost on the ground and our breath steamed in front of our faces. After another half day of hiking we went to the train station to catch El Chepe back to El Fuerte. This train had come from Chihuahua and was packed with local people traveling for work or to see their families, carrying their belongings in handled mesh bags. We were told there’d be no seats for the first three hours so John rolled out his yoga mat and we sat on the floor in the snack car.

Upon our nighttime arrival in El Fuerte a car met us to take us to our hotel with a sign that said “Jhon.” Hotel Rio Vista was a creatively decorated building that sat on the hill overlooking the El Fuerte River. In the morning we had breakfast on the veranda surrounded by bougainvillea and hummingbirds.

This crazy mural was painted outside our room.

We then explored the rest of the town that we had missed the first time around. We visited the fort (el fuerte) of El Fuerte, which is now a museum.

A whole wing of the fort was devoted to “Miss El Fuerte,” and featured photos of women wearing extravagant gowns and posing in odd places (like a barren cornfield) and with weird props like this lovely gem:

Check out this guy's hat. I have no idea what's going on in this photo.

A hike to see the petroglyphs took us down the hill to the river, across a suspension bridge, up a walkway on the other side, and up another hill on a dirt road covered in cow patties. There were cows standing and lying around everywhere. One big bull with an intimidating set of horns stood near the path and bellowed threateningly, but he ultimately let us pass unharmed. We never found the petroglyphs, but it was a nice hike all the same - except for the biting flies we ran into by the river. They swarmed us and left angry red welts on our arms and legs that itched for days.

When we got back to town we ran into the owner of our hotel and asked him where we could find a good pizza. He showed us where to find the better of two options, a tiny restaurant that served only one kind of pizza: a la Mexicana. We would have to wait for our pizza to find out what that meant. Because they didn’t serve beer, the lady of the house told John to just go buy some and bring it back. He asked a guy on the street where he could find beer and the guy offered to drive him the six blocks to the liquor store. He refused to accept payment or tip for his helpfulness. So we enjoyed our pizza a la Mexicana (topped with slices of hot dog and salsa) with icy Negra Modelos.

Later, we took a taxi to the ferry station in Topolobampo where we had to wait until 11PM for the ferry to leave. Luke had the bright idea of getting a cabin on the ferry and it was a godsend. Much like a cruise ship cabin, it had four cozy bunks, a bathroom with shower, and a little desk with bottles of water. We promptly fell asleep and only woke up when the ferry docked in Pichilingue at 6AM. Visiting the Copper Canyon was quite a journey, but well worth the effort.

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