Journey to the Bottom of the Continent

20 May

Just rolled into Mexico City (after a 20 hour bus ride from Chihuahua), and I wanna get out and explore!   Still, got to get this off my chest before the next adventure—hiking a volcano with my friend Kisiev this Saturday (still don´t know which one) .

So, I spent the last week at the bottom of the deepest canyon system in North America, the Barranca del Cobre (a.k.a ¨ The Copper Canyon¨…apparently Spanish Conquistadors overzealously mistook pale green vegetation for copper lining the canyon´s walls.)  I met Cici and Vincent, a Belgian couple on a month-long tour of Mexico, on the awesome Ferrocarril del Barranca del Cobre…a pretty impressive train that runs along the canyon and stops at a number of tiny villages perched along the rim.


From Bahuichivo (one such village), we took an aging converted American school bus, piloted by our fearless captain Eugenio, down the twisting, narrow road to the canyon floor (see video on upper right). We were all getting over some stomach issues, so the ride was an exercise in, well, self-restraint, so to speak. Luckily, I was scared sh&t-less.

Spent four relaaaaaaxing days at a sorta home-made ecohomestead/hostel in Urique on the canyon floor called Entre Amigos.  Composting toilets (stocked with Mother Earth catalogs from the 70´s), solar-heated hot water, and papaya, mango, and grapefruit trees abounded! Also, right by the river…key for chilling out after day hikes in the hot canyon.

Keith, the owner wasn´t there, but I still got to take tortilla-making lessons from Maruca, a family friend and employee who was watching over the place. A lady in town (who loaned me a bag of flour when the abarrotes were all out) said I learned from the best. They were definitely delicious, and Maruca definitely got a kick out of the lumpy, mishapen tortilla freaks that emerged from my first few attempts (pictured below is one of the less-freaky tortilla freaks).


Some great day hikes to isolated indigenous communities on the canyon floor, and then a less-freaky bus ride back up and a train to Creel.

There, me and the Belgians rented bikes for the day and pedalled through a series of valleys with interesting rock formations (the Valley of the Frogs, the Valley of the Mushrooms, and the Valley of the Monks, which was (no joke) actually originally called Valley of the Erect Penises by its indigenous inhabitants, because…well, you´ll see).

Then, burnt crispy from the all-day bike ride, I said goodbye to the Vincent and Cici and bussed it up to Chihuahua with Daniel, a German army vet, Antonio, a diction and Literature instructor from Mexico City, and Francesca, a French business consultant. Chihuahua was kind of a rough town, although not without its jokes. Me and Daniel were assailed (in a repeat of earlier events in Guadalajara) but camera-phone bearing schoolgirls while taking a tour of a historical mural at the Palacio de Gobierno. We finally escaped and finished our tour, only to be whistled at by the prostitutes (at least one of who sounded, but didn´t look like, a dude) stalking the streets outside the run-down guesthouse where we were staying.

Later, me and Daniel had a great time at a dive cantina populated by two puckered old guys with canes, three surly waitresses, and another prostitute who kept checking out the window for clients. The jukebox was banging out Norteño love ballads for the first few shots of tequila, but then suddenly ran out of credit and went silent.    Seizing the opportunity, I flipped through the catalog of discs and found treasure: Creedence Clearwater Revival´s Greatest Hits. So, I put on Bad Moon Rising, not sure if we´d be kicked out, and went back to my bar stool while the song loaded.

Then the familiar tune burst out of the speakers at full volume, and to everyone´s surprise, one of the seniors put down his cane and started dancing this great unselfconscious kind of salsa dance, arms upraised and fingers snapping, sashaying around the bar floor. We all of course started clapping and yelling ¨EY EY EY EY¨ (like they do here), and I rushed over to the jukebox to keep the tunes flowing. A half-hour later, after great success with more Creedence and some Daddy Yankee (he loved ¨Gasolina¨), we slapped on some Cumbia (good dancin´music) and all got out on the floor.   Good times!

Hostel-bound here in Mexico City for now, due to surprise streetfood poisoning, but stoked for the upcoming volano summiting!

4 Responses to “Journey to the Bottom of the Continent”

  1. Duncan May 20, 2010 at 9:36 PM #

    Sounds great and the photos look amazing! have a good trip man!

    Like this

  2. dylan May 20, 2010 at 11:26 PM #

    thanks dude. how´d everything go at oventic? and you´re setting off again soon, yeah? keep in touch with your adventures bro and enjoy your last few weeks in GDL!

    Like this

  3. isaac May 21, 2010 at 12:14 AM #

    wow… I LOVE reading your blog! Im thoroughly enjoyed my time in Mexico, but I must say that I am jealous of your adventures! Hope you get to feeling better!

    Like this

    • dylbeano May 25, 2010 at 2:54 PM #

      hey man, thanks! definitely starting to feel better…ended up hiking La Malinche, a non-active volcano named after Hernan Cortes´ Aztec wife/lover. super steep ascent, popping pepto bismol the whole time, but awesome views from the top! now in mexico city hanging with kisiev and some of his friends. what´s up in guadalajara?

      Like this

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