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  • Peggy Simonsen

Exploring Copper canyon, Mexico


I have long wanted to get to a part of Mexico I have not been to. Copper Canyon runs from the southwest Texas border toward the Gulf of California. The El Chepe train is an engineering feat, completed 60 years ago (90 years under construction) to run through the canyon from the rim to the bottom, over 390 miles. It is considered one of the five most spectacular train rides in the world. 

 

A few years ago, the US State Department recommended not going there because of danger with drug activities in the area. So we waited until this year, now that the warnings have been lifted. My brother and sister-in-law live in southern New Mexico and know a local guide from Palomas, just over the border. Luis drove us through the Chihuahua Desert to Divisidero, on the edge of the canyon. We stayed in the hotel that is perched right on the edge of the canyon, with spectacular views from our rooms. We hiked a trail along the edge of the canyon, followed by Margaritas at the bar overlooking the amazing view.

 

The next morning we caught the train that winds through the wooded canyons, over 39 high bridges, and through 86 tunnels, for six hours. I was surprised that Copper Canyon does not have sheer rock walls like the Grand Canyon, with a huge river at the bottom, but is made up of several canyons and streams converging. We got off the train in El Fuerte, a historical town with a fort built by the Spaniards to protect from the Mayan rebellions.

 

The following day we boarded the train for the return trip, sitting on the opposite side for new spectacular views. Back in Divisidero, us three women adventured to the Parque Aventura Barrancas del Cobre zipline that whips across the canyon to a landing on a peak thousands of feet away. (See stone outcrop in distance in first photo.) It is called the longest zipline in the world! The men chose the timid way, taking the gondola across! Hardest part of the adventure was climbing from the landing of the zipline up hundreds of feet to the top of the promontory to take the gondola back.

 

Most of the people who take the El Chepe train are Mexicans on vacation. We chatted with some in my poor Spanish and their spotty English, but of course Luis translated for us along the way. The local women weave baskets out of Ponderosa pine needles, and at each train stop they set up stalls to sell their crafts. On the way back to Palomas in Luis’ van, we stopped at Matta Ortiz, a unique town of potters.  We were able to see one artist painting her large pot with intricate designs, and visited a studio where two potters were making pots from lumps of clay- not thrown on a wheel, but exquisitely made and decorated by hand. Of course I bought two pots for my collection!

 

A great opportunity for a new adventure with family members!



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