Thursday, March 20, 2008

Copper Canyon and Creel

Sorry again for the delay. I had this pretty much written but needed to add the pictures and I've been a little sick.

10 - 11 March, 2008

After leaving Puerto Vallarta we had to change buses in Tepic and we got to Los Mochis around 5:30am. There was a 1 hour time change between Puerto Vallarta and Los Mochis and Alaine got mixed up and set her watch forward instead of back. She woke up and thought was 4:30 and she asked when we would get there and they said 3 hours. Since the train leaves at 7 she was pretty worried but they finally set here straight. I slept through all this because Alaine had moved to an empty seat a few rows back.

After asking a lot of people we finally found where to catch the buses to the train station, which our guide book unhelpfully proclaims "depart for the train station from outside the main bus station." No, they pass by the main bus station.

Alaine waiting to board the train
In any case, we did make it to the train station and got through the metal detector, which is a ridiculous thing. Everyone goes through it with their luggage and sets it off, then the one security guy will look through a bag at random for maybe thirty seconds. He didn't look in any of our bags.

I waited in line to buy tickets, but when I finally got near the head of the line, they said we should all board the train and buy tickets on board. The conductor assigned us seats as we boarded and we just put our big suitcases in the large open area at the front of the car. There were three passenger cars and a sort of dining car at the front, right behind the engine. We were in the second passenger car. The one behind us said first class and was occupied only by a guard who would tell you that you can look out the back but not go outside of the car. I couldn't see much difference in the quality of the accommodation except that the upholstery looked newer. The actual first class service is supposed to be on a different train so i assume that they were just transporting the car somewhere else.

Basket sellers
We got moving pretty soon after boarding--moving at about 5-10 mph that is. I guess because of going through populated areas they were going slowly. We also made made stops to pick up more people.

The first part of the journey is on flat agricultural land, but eventually we started moving up, and moving faster and the views got more exciting. The 650 km (390 mile) rail line has 86 tunnels and 39 bridges. There is one point where the track actually crosses over itself.

When we got to Divisadero there was a 15 minu;te break and we walked down to an overlook with a spectacular view. We also bought some delicious burritos.

View from Divisadero
We got to Creel at around 6:30 pm and there were a lot of people trying to get guests for their hotels. We went with a guy who offered us a $19 for the two of us including breakfast. He took us in a little bus to a hotel a little outside of town called Hotel St. Cruz. It was a nice looking place and seemed great for the price. We were so tired that we didn't really want to look for another hotel. After we checked in we got him to give us a ride back into town and we looked around a little and then had dinner in a nice little restaurant.

When we left it was getting a little cold; Creel is at 2330 meters (7644 feet) and we were well above the Tropic of Cancer now. We picked up some beer at the store and walked back to our hotel. There was a gas heater in the room and I got it lit. We watched some old Daily Shows on the computer. There were lots of warnings on the heater about not using it while sleeping so I shut it off, though it was still pretty cold in the room. I woke up later and it was very cold so I lit the heater again, but it went off almost immediately. I gave up and got back under the covers. In the morning I tried unsuccessfully to light it again and Alaine went and got someone to light it for us. It took him about five minutes to get it going. He said the gas was frozen.

I had a headache, I think from altitude sickness. Alaine volunteered to go and get me some Gatorade to try to rehydrate. It took a while because she was getting conflicting stories from people on where she could find an open store. She also checked about coffee and breakfast but they said not until 9. The guy said he would bring us up a pitcher of coffee. We went back to sleep for a while and woke up around 10:30 and still no coffee. We went downstairs and did manage to get coffee but we never did get any breakfast. The whole thing was very weird and I'm pretty sure we were the only guests in this 30 room hotel.

After checking out we got them to give us a ride back to town and left our luggage at the bus station and bought tickets for the 3 o'clock bus to Chihuahua. We went and ate lunch and I got online for a little while. Then it was almost time for the bus so off we went to Chihuahua.

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