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May 14, 2010

Baranca De Cobre (Copper Canyon)



With much anticipation we arrived in Topolabampo a bay we visited ten years ago aboard the Baja Ferry. This time we were on Meshach. This trip was a highlight for Thor and I years ago, and had been talked about on many occasions with our children. We love trains and we love sailing so this would be a a great package trip.

We arrived in the large bay after a very rough passage from Altata and headed straight to the new marina to clean the boat up and find a dentist before the weekend.  Nothing like biting into a popcorn kernel, and chipping a tooth. With the help of Alberto the marina agent we were on a bus to Los Mochis within an hour to visit the english speaking dentist.

Alberto Areola is a great source of information about the area, a one man chamber of commerce. Topolobampo itself is a sleepy little fishing port with a huge fleet of shrimpers, sadly most are in disrepair. But there is an obvious atempt by the town to spruce it up and make it more of a destination than a pit stop.

Los Mochis is a large city of 250,00O that has a small town feel combined with a modern flare.  Los Mochis is where most people start the rail trip through the Copper Canyon. We along with our friends
Eyoni piled all seven of us into the taxi  at 5:30 in the morning and headed to the Mochis station where we e boarded the Chepe at 7:00 am economy class. There are different classes of service , but the economy class was a great way to experience the local culture. Being that it was Sunday we were on the train with many of the local Raramuri returning to the canyons with their bags of potatoes and other staples they bought in the big city.

Copper Canyon is a a series of 20 amazing canyons that altogether comprise an area four times larger than the Grand Canyon. The trip starts in the arid flat lands of the state of Sinaloa and winds its way though farmlands, cacti and into the the mountains and canyons to elevations as high as 8.000 feet. The rail itself is a remarkable feat of engineering, as the train traverses 37 bridges and 86 tunnels along 653 km of track.

Our stop on the train would be in the town of Creel. We arrived in the afternoon and made our way to Casa Margaritas the same place we stayed in 2000. We were excited to run into other cruising friends who we last spoke to in Mazatlan. The family on journey have two boys ages 7 and 9 making Tristan a very happy camper and Sienna has had her partner Zada.

The cool mountain air was a bit of a shock to the system , but pleasant one. The days were warm and as the sun set we all bundled up in our cozies as Sienna calls it. Our Creel adventure included hiking to some of the inhabited cave dwellings of the Raramuri Indians, lots of purchases of the local art, a long hike to the bottom of the canyon to visit the hot springs and lots of exploring.

Our last night in the canyon was spent at Posada Barranca, the only village along the rail system that sits on the rim of the canyon.  We enjoyed more hiking, horseback riding and basket purchasing.. The beautiful pine needle baskets woven by the local Raramuri are so special. 

Our trip back to Los Mochis was another spectacular train ride.  We arrived in Los Mochis close to 10 pm and by the time we got back to Meshach the kids were zonked.  We were all happy to be home.  We had a fabulous adventure and look forward to when we visit this magical place again.