Sometimes, plans don’t work out as planned.
A small confusion with our tour guide who had said he would pick us up at 8:30!! He hadn’t checked the
schedule and I made the mistake of trusting him instead of checking the itinerary. We waited outside after
a chaotic buffet breakfast with what seemed like hundreds of fellow guests lining up for everything from
Chilaquiles tortilla strips in tomato sauce with cheese), to refried beans, omelets and scrambled eggs.
My favorite, of course, is papaya that we always used to eat in Mexico.
While we waited outside, many of the guests came past us loaded down with luggage as they headed
for the train. Luggage dumped into a pick-up and the people piled into a big bus. Now, I finally learn that
the train runs from Los Mochis on the coast to Chihuahua every day, North on Monday, South on Tuesday,
back again on Wednesday, etc. But it is only for the holidays. So people book the train months in advance.
No wonder I could not get tickets at the last minute which meant we got stuck in Divisadero for 7 days!
All to the good, however, since we now have 5 days of tours. Next time, we order tickets well in advance!
While waiting, we watched a young (20ish) Tarahumara girl weaving baskets in a variety of colors, her
hands as quick as humming birds. On a sheet in front of her were laid out a huge variety of jewelry made from local
seeds and wood, big and little baskets, crucifixes, and woven woolen shawls. Michele asked her to make
two sets of small nested baskets in red and white. Working all day long, seated among the pines in the warmer
sunshine, the girl had them all done by afternoon when we got back from our walk.
Once we figured out we were on our own, we unloaded our backpacks in our rooms and set out to explore.
Following a path made of flat stones cemented together, we wound our way down through the pine trees and
around rocky boulders. To our right was the deep canyon, to our left, towering cliffs of basalt rock covered in
bright green lichen. Part way down, we found the cliff-dwellings of five generations of Tarahumara Indians.
They don’t use the caves themselves since they have built little one-room houses out from the cliff face.
There is a tiny seep of water from the rock face that fills a small square concrete catch-basin. This they use for
drinking water, dipping the water out with a bucket. . The larger concrete pond (about 7 feet by 5 feet) that catches
the run-off they use for bathing and laundry washing. Today was laundry day so there were children’s clothes and
the women’s brightly colored skirts. These are expandible since the girls seem to be pregnant much of the time.
As are the many dogs that roam all over everywhere. They are mostly brownish red cur dogs some of whom look
fairly well fed, or at least not skin and bones. Except for the scrawny mother dogs who are obviously giving their lives to
feed their pups. Some of the pups are mangy and covered with sores, while a few are pampered by the natives.
No one seems to worry about the ones killed along the road, or the many who hang around the hotel waiting for
handouts. Of course, one of our party is collecting table scraps to feed to the dogs this morning!
One of the Tarahumara men, dressed in the typical native loose cotton blouse, does tours with explanations of their
lives in the caves. We missed the guided tour but got to talk to one of the young women who was selling
the usual baskets, jewelry spread out on a piece of wood in front of her little adobe house built against the
cave entrance. We couldn’t help but be enticed by the brightly colored skirts sewed into flounces with contrasting
colored edging with small triangular decorations. By the time we were done admiring and buying, the young woman
And her elderly mother and several small children had made a good living from us!
After lunch back at the hotel, we set out again down the mountain toward the little town of Araponapuche. The
Tarahumara have their own language with its own spelling and pronuncation. Fortunately the government now
Encourages the education of the natives in their own languages of which there are 67 accepted tribal dialects.
The little town had, not one, but five hotels scattered along the road from the train station. Some more elegant
And expensive than others. Surprisingly there was a tiny church built of concrete blocks with no decorations
built in 1988! Since the town was founded by Jesuits during the 1700s, and the Franciscans after 1767, I am
surprised there is no church from that early period.
We stopped at one of the slightly more upscale hotels for a beer but were directed up to the Mirador. No beer to be
had anywhere but at the big hotel. And the only hotel with views into the canyon is here at our Mirador Hotel.
The other hotels are on the far side of the canyon rim and have no view of the canyons at all.
By the time we returned from our hike, the little Tarahumara girl had the two sets of nested baskets all done in
lovely red and white. We relaxed out on the terrace with our requisite beers and wine and lemonade until supper
at 7 pm. In the distance, we could see the Teensy tiny bright red dot of the big gondolas criss-crossing the chasm.
We could also hear the whiz and whir of some wacko taking the zip line from one rock outcropping across the
Canyon to the distant stopping point.
That is what we have to look forward to today.