After two weeks in Mexico, one thing is readily apparent – I will have to watch what I eat or the locals are going to start calling me “El Gordo.” Mexican food in America, or Tex Mex, has a reputation for being fattening. Real Mexican food is very similar, but even fattier, oilier and more delicious. Even Mexican classics that ought to be healthy, like juevos rancheros, is somehow covered in oil. They say you aren’t supposed to swim within an hour of eating due to cramps. Here, I am afraid to swim after eating for fear of sinking to the bottom!
In many ways, I don’t feel like I left the USA. I know enough language to get around, we only flew three hours to get here, and although the Sierra Madre had Tarahumara people and cowboys everywhere, it doesn’t seem that foreign. Moreover, we have been traveling with a couple of friends, we rented a car and got an apartment in La Paz, so it feels very American. Next week when we fly to Mexico City and our friends fly to the States, I am sure the pollution, chaos and energy of the megalopolis will jolt me into full travel mode. Until then, I am going to enjoy the beaches and chill life of the Baja, the “spring break” portion of our trip.
Day 7 – The Copper Canyon, Divisadero and the Adventure Park
The major highlight of the week was visiting the Copper Canyon, one of the world’s deepest and largest network of canyons. I came to Creel 12 years ago and was within 30 miles of the great canyon, but due to being very sick I didn’t bother to go look at it. It is hard to believe I skipped it, because the canyon is every bit as spectacular as the Grand Ganyon in Arizona, but without the crowds. We enjoyed the sweeping views of the Copper Canyon literally by ourselves. Here is some photographic evidence:
My wife and friends rode the longest zip line world, measuring 2545 meters, or 8350 feet, in length. From the top of the zip line, it was impossible to see the end. The rope seemingly dropped the riders into an abyss of no return.
Naturally, being of sound mind, I did not do the zip line because the cable would have snapped and I’d have fallen thousands of feet to my death, so I took the cable car instead.
Day 8, The Copper Canyon Railroad – El Chepe
The train from Divisadero to La Fuerte is no doubt one of the most spectacular train rides on the planet. We boarded the train in Divisadero, near the best views from the canyon rim, and rode it into the lowlands to the colorful colonial town of La Fuerte. The first hour or so on the train, the tracks pass upland villages and farms, but eventually it enters the canyonland and descends into dramatic gorges, at one point going in a tunnel and turning a full circle in order to gain/drop elevation.
The Chihuahua-Pacific Railroad, known as El Chepe, is an engineering feet, traversing 418 miles, rising as high as 7900 feet and dropping down to sea level. It passes through 86 tunnels and over 37 bridges. And there is dining car that serves cold beer.
Day 9/10, A Very Late Baja Ferry, Mucho Seguridad and Spring Break Party
We went to the ferry terminal in Topolobampo to get on the boat to La Paz, but due to a storm, the ferry was delayed. We were supposed to depart at midnight; we didn’t leave until about 4 am.
Security at the ferry terminal was very interesting; they divided us up by gender and had drug dogs sniff all our gear. I was in a line with about 50 people – 48 Mexicans, my friend Chris and I. The drug dog was enamored with my bags. He sniffed it with enthusiasm, as if I was smuggling a giant sack of doggie treats. Everyone was staring at me as the dog slobbered and sniffed all over the bags, so I did the only reasonable thing – I just started laughing. I knew I had no drugs in my bag (I mailed them to the Baja) so it was funny, but just a tiny bit scary.
Upon arrival in the Baja, they made us all line up again, but for whatever reason they waved us four gringos right past the inspection.
Day 11, Swimming with Whale Sharks and Sea Lions
After all that adventure in the high sierra, we made our way to La Paz for a quintesential Mexican experience of swimming, snorkeling and visiting spectacular beaches. We did not, however, have drinks with little umbrellas in them. That will have to wait for days 68-70 at the very end.
Off the coast of La Paz, we snorkeled with the world’s largest fish – whale sharks. The massive fish reach a size of 50 feet long, about the size of a bus, and eat by filter feeding in the murky, plankton rich waters. It was necessary to get within about 10 feet of them to see them, which was slightly terrifying in a way, but it also felt somewhat aquariam-like with a mask on.
From there, we snorkeled with sea lions on a small outcropping. We see sea lions all the time in Alaska, but never dream of swimming with them. The females and pups would approach us and check us out, but once a large male swam by, barking at us underwater. The guide said this was a sign we should go.
From there, we stopped at one of the countless spectacular beaches on the uninhabited island of Espiritu Santo. This island is something to behold; sprinkled with saguaro and organ pipe cactus, adorned with beaches in every cove, and encircled in clear turquiose water, it is one of the most starkly beautiful islands you will ever see, and a big reason we made the trek out to Baja.
(Click any photo for a slideshow view)
I would like to cordially invite you to follow our adventures on Facebook. All the classy people are doing it.