|Subject: Mexico on the cheap! Part 1|
My son-in-law Peter took a two and a half day Greyhound bus ride through the US from Canada to Mexico. Here#s a summary of his e-mails home from Mexico. At various points he met other young people travelling cheaply as well - it sounds a bit like Europe in the sixties and seventies! 100 pesos is about $9USD and $12CAD.
I took a shared taxi from the Presidio bus terminal to Ojinaga's bus terminal ($7USD) instead of just walking the 30 minutes across the border. I also took a 40 peso cab from the bus terminal here in Chihuahua instead of taking the local bus (the guide book I had forgot to mention which of the buses from the main bus terminal went
downtown!)... $138 pesos for a 4 hour trip in the most comfortable bus seats I've had the privilege of sitting in. More like a la-z-boy chair than a bus seat. There is actually a padded foot rest which extends from the seat in front turning the chair into something like a la-z-boy chair when it's extended.
I didn't do so well choosing a hotel though. Although the building is beautiful (built in the 1930's) the room that I have is in the back and doesn't have any windows. Can't complain about the price though $5 USD. Next time I plan to be more particular in choosing the room.
Tomorrow I am heading out to the Mennonite farming village of Cuauhtemoc and from there to Creel in the Copper Canyon to spend New Years.
This time I made a point of figuring out how to take the local bus to the central terminal. So I wandered around town, took in the sights (the cathedral was beautiful - the nativity scene outside was quite unique - as it prominently featured Mary and the baby Jesus in front of a stainless steel windmill!)
After much searching I caught the bus to the main bus terminal (4 pesos) - the local bus was an old school bus and each is decorated by the driver.
I took the 2nd class bus to Cuauhtemoc, an agricultural community. I visited the Mennonite Campos outside of town. It was interesting as they are very successful in a region which is otherwise quite arid. The walled farms (apples, cattle, etc.) have cover set up for shade as well as irrigation. It is quite weird to see the classic Mennonite dress this far south. (Note: Peter lives in Kitchener/Waterloo, Mennonite country in Ontario).
I took the evening bus to Creel - the bus was late and it was dark before I left. I don't think I'll do this sort of night trip in the canyon again as there is no horizon and the bus rolls around quite a bit on the roads. Glad that I had Gravol!
In Creel, Margarita's the place mentioned in all my guidebooks was full - so her son took me to another hotel -- very nice with a propane heater in the room as well as VERY hot water. The propane ran out during the night though so that by morning it was quite cold in the room. I woke up early and went wandering the town in search of coffee. I almost immediately met Bob a strange American who suggested I have coffee at the Hotel Luli where he knew the owner. After hearing Bob's life story (and great cafe latte!) three other people entered the room. I recognized immediately that they were Canadian (from their Mountain Equipment Co-op jackets of course!) and it turns out that they are from Toronto. I booked a shared room where they were staying ($100 pesos.) Much cheaper than the first place.
I spent the morning hiking up to see the statue of Jesus which overlooks town, and the afternoon hiking the canyon around Creel [with his new friends]. It is interesting, as the climate here is very dry and most of the homes are heated with wood.
New Years Eve is an occasion not celebrated by the locals (only the tourists) - but I have been told that the Casa Margarita´s will be open until midnight to allow us Gringos to celebrate. The Best Western Lodge has overpriced rooms (starting at $180USD / night - in comparison, mine is $8.00USD /night) but has an inexpensive bar. I celebrated the New Year with 2 cokes and a shot of tequila!
Tomorrow we have booked a three hour horseback ride to see the valley of the mushrooms, the valley of the turtles, and the valley of the monks. I haven't been horseback riding since I was in grade 6 so I´m not entirely convinced that it will work out. But the guide has assured us (Julian has never ridden before either) that the horses will simply follow the guide's horse and that we can just sit back and relax.
Creel, Batopillias, Copper Canyon
This morning I got up bright and early, had coffee and breakfast, and set off on our horseback riding adventure. It was fun, stunningly beautiful and we saw many sights including the Jesuit mission (about 250 years old) and several indian villages. The trip ended up being close to 5 hours in length and I'm very sore but happy I went. Some of the more traditional indians here still live in the canyon caves and we passed several of these residences built into the canyon wall.
Being the enterprising (or rather economizing) types that we are, we decided to try for a cheaper way of getting there. A public bus (40 pesos) got us to the end of the paved highway with 75km of dirt road remaining to Batopillias. We hitched our way down there in two
segments, walking about 3km before being picked up by a second truck. Hitching is quite common here and the ride down, while harrowing, was far better than could be had by a bus. The views of the canyon were spectacular and the breeze calmed my stomach (there were times when the side of the truck were over the side of the cliff. Our first hitch was actually quite interesting as we shared the ride with two Tamahumara indians - wearing their usual loin cloth and sweater!
I also stayed three nights at the stunning Hacienda there - restored from the 1800's I had a gorgeous large room with a private tiled bathtub and the world's most comfortable bed but it is low season and the owner has had some trouble with the tour companies, so business was slow.
I'm back in Creel after a 8 hour bus ride (slower going uphill) and I´m feeling very carsick. The camera I brought has decided to no longer work so I'm afraid that I have few photos once I got down to
Sent by Frances Toronto, Canada