More from Copper Canyon…

Next morning at the motel outside of Divisadero was bright and clear, did require a long sleeved shirt early on but by 10AM it was short sleeve weather.

Here’s my room.

My room.

My room.

True, it’s kind of plain, but spent most of my time here sleeping anyway.

Shower.

Shower.

Nice, clean shower with plenty of hot water. But, hardly any room between the shower, stool, and the sink. So had to contort myself to be able to shave.

Room is too small for all this stuff.

Room is too small for all this stuff.

Wandered back over to the lounge for a visit and a nice breakfast.

The lounge.

The lounge.

I didn’t get any pictures of them but there were several old timey photographs of the owner’s family going back to the 1890′s. Very interesting stories of how the family fared here over the years.

Here’s another look at this motel’s “Canyon view”:

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The “Canyon”…sure, that’s a canyon all right.

We guests all sat at the big family table and enjoyed a traditional Mexican breakfast, eggs, refried beans, chopped vegis, etc. Good food, coffee and conversation. Around 11AM the owner drove me back over to the RR station…I was still thinking that there would be an ATM somewhere in Divisadero but the owner let’s me know that, “No ATMs at all until you get to Creel”. I was shocked. Bummer. I didn’t have enough pesos to tide me over if there were some problem or other. I knew I could stay at the Divisadero Hotel using my CC…at over $100 USD per night, but I didn’t want to take the chance of something going wrong. Like a storm taking out the delicate infrastructure and the hotel loosing the ability to use my CC up here on the mountaintop. I know that sounds farfetched but there have been several times in Mexico where I really had to hunt around for a way to get cash or somewhere to use my CC. In large cities, or small villages. Several times finding broken ATMs or businesses with out-of-order CC machines. Much more often then in the states.

I could just continue on to Creel, but really the only need to go to Creel was that ATM (and I heard there was only one there). Seemed like a waste of time as visiting old churches doesn’t appeal to me, and that’s all Creel seemed to have going for it. I had just enough pesos to buy a return train ticket to El Fuerte, and for the taxi to my RV in El Fuerte. And not much cushion beyond that. I thought long and hard about staying at the hotel, but there the only attraction was WiFi in the restaurant, and a great view. The reviews I’d read about the food left a lot to be desired.

Anyway, I wandered around Divisadero for an hour, and visited the hotel to use their WiFi.

Here’s a couple shots of how nice this hotel is. Really nice. If I hadn’t been shown that flyer about the motel I’d stayed at, I would have stayed here.

The view from my table.

The view from my table.

This is in the upstairs restaurant. Downstairs has an even nicer vista.

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Nice.

As you can see, the place is big enough for lots of tourists but they just aren’t coming these days.

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Dining room.

Yes, I was the only one there. Had a fruit cup while I surfed. It wasn’t that good. Some past-it’s-prime local fruit mixed with some canned fruit. Not impressed. The coffee was rather poor as well. OK, that made up my mind for me. I’d just head back to El Fuerte. Should have planned my trip better. Lesson learned. Really though, I had no idea there weren’t any ATMs on the train route except for in Creel and at both ends of the route. That just wasn’t a question I’d normally have to ask in Mexico. There were a couple of interesting places, like the historic inn at Bauichivo, which is way out in the boondocks miles from a small village, I would have enjoyed staying at if I’d had enough cash.

While I was waiting, (it was around noon), and gazing out at the scenery, I see some TV crew setting up lots of fancy TV production equipment out in front of the hotel. Seems that a popular Mexican TV show was doing a shoot there. I don’t know what I was thinking but I didn’t get a single shot of the entire shoot. Actors, extras, all sorts of cameras, the director and staff, grips, cables snaking everywhere, boom camera hanging out over the canyon. All interesting stuff. Saw them coaching the young actors with their lines, the director shouting instructions, a bunch of pretty gals waiting for their big scenes, taking the shots, yelling ‘Action and Cut’ (in Spanish of course), all that stuff. You’ll just have to imagine it. The big payoff was the scene they shot with a kid and the star on the RR tracks while the train was coming into town. I got to watch the actors rehearsing over and over. I asked some locals what show it was and they filled me in on who was who, and the name of the show, but I can’t remember. The train was late arriving, and was held up just for this production shoot. Must be a popular show as everyone was very accommodating to the production crew. Including the train people. I could understand the value of the shoot as a commercial for the area too.

Here’s some shots of the market:

Local girl helping her mom set up for the trains arrival.

Local girl helping her mom set up for the trains arrival.

Ahh.

Ahh. What a cutie.

A few minutes later and mom’s table is all set up waiting for tourists.

Playing with a dog.

Playing with a hiding dog.

Random shot.

Random shot that includes the TV production crew.

They kept everyone back from the tracks during the shoot but as soon as the train got there, and they had their scene in the bank, it all soon went back to normal. Vendors feeding the train passengers and selling them stuff. The train stops here long enough for everyone to be able to eat, shop, and still have time to go look at the canyon for a bit. Because of the shoot, everyone had extra time this day.

I went ahead and jumped on the train for the trip back to El Fuerte. Darnit. Kind of wanted to stay another day or two but felt I didn’t have much choice without cash. Not much you can do in these small Mexican towns with only a CC. And only one place that takes them.

We left Divisadero around 3:30pm and arrived in El Fuerte after dark. There were several taxis waiting and I negotiated an $80 peso ride, shared the ride with another rider who spoke English. After paying the driver, I had around $100 pesos (around $8 USD) left. Damn.

Next day, I ask the RV park owner about ATMs and it turned out that El Fuerte only had ONE ATM attached to a bank. Not sure there were any others at all, but probably free standing if any. Don’t like using those as there’s several fraudulent scams going on with those.

So I take a taxi downtown, tell the taxi driver to come back and get me in 3 hours, stopped at that nice old hotel again and had a meal, browsed the internet for a while. Wandered about for a while. Nice little town. When the taxi driver came back and took me to the bank, I was a little taken aback at the place. Old style machines that suck your card inside the machine while it’s working on your transaction. I hate those damn things. Old facility too. I’m thinking, “Oh, oh, here’s a prime place to have something go wrong and lose my card”.

But everything went well, and I finally had $2000 pesos back in my pocket. I’d already paid for my RV space so I was feeling good. I hung around town until the 6th and the morning I left, I asked the owner how the road was after you got by the huge pot holes I’d run into just out of town on that alternate route. He tells me it’s a great road. So, I took the road less traveled back to the freeway, Mex-15d. The Northern route. It’s the road that takes you to Chihuahuita, right on Mex-15d. Any good mapping program should find that town. RV’ers have been using the northern route for years to get to El Fuerte.

Turned out that the road was fairly poor most of the way. Huge pot holes that you could see far enough away that you could dodge them. Some though, spanned both lanes so I’d have to slow down to a crawl. Wouldn’t suggest traveling on this road at night. Eventually got to a reasonably good section so I was feeling good about the route until I see off in the distance that the road is blocked! (No, not by a drug gang, but by a road crew). I get up to the road block and the guy tells me that they’re rebuilding the entire road and that I’ll have to take a detour. There’s a guy standing over near the road block that the road worker motions over to my RV.  “This guy will guide you”, he tells me in broken English.

Boy was I glad to have a guide. Almost the entire detour was along irrigation ditches. Graded road, but dirt only. Steep drops into water on one side, steep graded hillsides on the other. UNMARKED ROUTE. Usually just wide enough for my RV. Jogs from one ditch to another in a couple places. At one spot, I had to pull over as far as possible to let a car coming the other direction pass. Scraped my paint on a big bush. Damn. The detour went like 8KM or so, at around 10KPH. Dropped off the guide just before a several mile section of brand new road. Nice. Once the entire road is done it’ll be a very nice trip into and out of El Fuerte, using either the North or South routes. Might be a couple years before the North route is worth taking though. RV’ers are probably better off heading down to Los Mochis and taking the Southern route up there. After a few miles on the new road, bumped into Mex-15d, and headed north, arrived in San Carlos without incidence late that afternoon.

Mexico is always surprising me during my travels.

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One Response to More from Copper Canyon…

  1. Suzanne says:

    Hi, Jim — thanks for the link over from the Facebook Mexico site! This was VERY good info, and will be very helpful to me! I will make sure to have plenty of pesos tucked away. Nice pictures and nice blog! Going to explore a bit more…

    Thanks for visiting, Suzanne. Hope you find some of my ramblings helpful.

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