Copper Canyon

Trip Start Apr 05, 2008
Trip End Mar 20, 2009

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Where I stayed
Uno Lodge

Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, June 20, 2008

All aboard el chepe (the copper canyon train) just before 9am and it's kind of a relief to be in the cool of air-conditioning for a few hours. The scenery is spectacular along the way and more lush than we had been expecting. After five and a half hours we reached San Rafael and it's a hot dusty welcome awaiting us, nothing else. Having to ring the tour office yet again to find out where our transfer is our guide finally arrives 30 minutes later, need to relax more we're in Mexico now. It soon all becomes apparently clear why our guide was delayed when we see the road which leads to Uno Lodge. It's only a 6mile road but it's should be on the thrill seekers list of top ten things to do in your lifetime. It takes us over an hour to get to the lodge and Adrian our host sums it up perfectly when he explains that the brakes on the truck are replaced every month and the tires every three months. We breath a sigh of a relief to have arrived in one piece although I am acting like such a girl (yet again) only moments later when Adrian explains about the scorpions. Gareth you are in so much trouble, you never mentioned anything about scorpions! So now back in the room I'm on constant scorpion vigil, we're going to have to work out a night shift rotation. I wish we had internet out here, I need to use Google to find out if they can climb. Adrian thought I was joking when I asked about if in emergency how would we get a helicopter in. I love you so much Becz for our headlight torches, they are going to get a serious work out over the next two nights. A thunderstorm sets in and the rain is a welcome relief as it cools everything down to a comfortable temperature. The views here are simply incredible, we're 2240m above sea level over looking the incredible Urique canyon. The land is owned by the local Tamaraumani tribe, between about 25 families. This tribe are renowned for running over astounding distances, we're told that some of the children walk over 2 hours just to get to school. We take a short walk before dinner to check out where Lola, one of the Tamarumana tribe who works at Uno Lodge, lives with her family. We're shown the goat house which for 18 years was where Lola and her family lived, there are 11 of them and the space is no bigger than the average bathroom that we are used to. It's simply a brick shell around a dirt floor. We're back in time for Happy Hour not that there's too much fear the bar will run dry, given that there's only Gareth and I here and two American ladies we met at the Rio Vista Lodge (who don't drink) so it's kind of funny. We're kept entertained by a local guy who is best described as a Mexican jumping bean with a guitar. He sure knows how to sing and is great fun. So there's no power out here, no cell phone coverage and definitely no internet. We're back to not flushing anything down the loo and have about 4 hours of light powered by solar energy so it's an early night all round. I've tried to drink as many margaritas as possible, I think if I pass out at least I'll get some sleep. I'm not the least bit worried about the mountain lions or pumas, the kids take turns during the night guarding the goats and we're told their aim with rocks is pretty hot.

Day 2:
We survived the night! Daylight arrived about 5am and it's never looked so good! I gladly watched the sunrise and it was beautiful. After breakfast we set out on our hike to enjoy unsurpassed views over the Urique Canyon although you wouldn't think it could get any better than the view from the lodge. We hiked for about 4 hours and the views were incredible. We also went into a cave consisting of three stories with original drawings from when the Spanish conquistadors were here. After lunch and a much needed siesta we set out again for an evening stroll before 'happy hour' commenced. It was much cooler and a very easy walk. Adrian was telling us about a local guy he knows. The story goes, Adrian was heading into San Rafael to get some groceries and passed his neighbour. Adrian asked the man if he wanted a ride into town who then accepted and off they went. On the way back home Adrian passed this man also on his way home with his groceries and offered him a ride home. The man's response sums up the Taraumani succinctly "no thanks, I'm in a hurry". It gives you an idea as to how fast these people can walk or maybe how challenging the road to the Uno Lodge truly is. Apparently each year each Taraumani village has a running race of 40km and it's now an international event. They run at night with torches and even villagers as old as 70 years compete. Such a different way of life. It's 'happy hour' and Gareth was offered a beer and after a one day fast of no beer he was more than happy to accept Tecate (a local brew that is not one of there finest, worse than Tui). It was cold and it was beer so Gareth was happy. The jumping Mexican bean was back for a second night running. He had also heard that 'beer' would be featuring tonight and obviously thought it in his best interest to stay a bit longer. To explain further, the Taraumani love their alcohol and it's not easy to come by round these parts but given they are able to make their own liquor from local plants and it's reputedly much stronger I'm not sure which is better for them. It was also agreed that 'Gareth' is too hard to pronounce in Spanish so let me please introduce to you all, Pepe! We had a great night and I would recommend if you're ever at the Uno Lodge and have the pleasure of the Mexican Jumping Bean then please request 'Viva Chihuahua', the song rocks the house! A great way to finish a superb day. And yes, yet again I'm tanked on Margaritas so I don't have to worry the Scorpions, snakes or spiders and my headlight is firmly attached!

Day 3:
We survived our final night and funnily enough now it's time to leave we're feeling reluctant to go. It's so peaceful out here and the hikes have been fantastic. Our hosts have shown us such a good time too. We decide to walk out (okay I decide we should walk out, Gareth is dragging his heels a bit) and we set off after breakfast along the road where the truck will meet us at some point along the way. We are almost at the bottom when the truck arrives and we continue our journey into Divisidero, 20 minutes away. The views from the canyon rim in Divisidero are spectacular and you can clearly see all three canyons, but it's not a patch on the views we were afforded at Uno Lodge. We're feeling pretty happy about our tour choice so far. We wander round the small market with wares made by the Taraumana. They are truly amazing people, each day they climb up a ladder from the bottom of the canyon carrying children and all their market goods to sell. The photos will not do it justice. These woman are so strong and resilient. We head back to San Rafael to catch our train and it's running on Mexican time today. It arrives an hour behind schedule so it will be a late arrival into Chihuahua tonight. The train trip this side is nothing astounding, the first half is definitely where the scenery is as you make the ascent to the Canyon. We arrive into Chihuahua just before 10pm and are not surprised to find that there is no transfer awaiting to take us to our hotel. No waiting round we jump in a taxi to the hotel only to find that they have no record of our reservation (mmm, thought the idea of doing a tour was to take out the hassle factor). They have a room and we check in and will get it all sorted in the morning.
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