Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Copper Canyon Trip Friday

This morning we had another great breakfast and everyone was ecstatic because they were able to connect with the rest of the world from the lobby. Our bus took us to the old Casas Grandes where Paquime the ruins and museum are located. The town site had a square and an old church, but the money was at the museum, so that's where we headed.

Carlos started giving us a very interesting lecture about the ruins, but we who wanted to take pictures took off and did exactly that. One lady from Australia said, "I can Google this!"  

The pictures above are two views of the same thing. The bird (top right) is in both pictures. I think he liked getting his picture taken. Part of the ruins look like mud with vertical lines; that part is original. Any stone work is done to hold the original stuff together and preserve it. I don't know if they have treated the old stuff to keep it from melting in the elements or not.

The last picture is a bit of poetic license. I took the shot from inside the museum through a window. The area was a courtyard. My regrets: I didn't take pictures of any pottery, nor did I buy any. What I saw just didn't grab me.

Back on the bus, we headed for the border and Agua Prieta where we would eat lunch. It was a hair-raising ride through a mountain pass on a two lane road full of semis. Before we entered this stretch, Carlos told us that just six miles away was Flowing Wells, NM. They are building a road that way so traffic would not have to suffer this horrendous bit of highway. Lunch was good, but I tasted the fruit-flavored water and asked immediately for bottled water. I suspect that was my downfall, because Saturday morning I awoke with Montezuma's Revenge or a severe intestinal flu. Back to the trip: crossing the borders, both Mexican and American was relatively easy and we were soon on our way to Tucson via Bisbee and Tombstone. 

Karen picked me up at the hotel, and Marilyn and Maria followed us home so that my two new friends could spend the night, because hotel rooms were scarce. We had fun drinking wine and showing Karen our new treasures. I hadn't seen the pretties that Marilyn and Maria acquired at the museum and was green with envy. The next morning I'd be green for another reason.

Reflections: it was a great trip meeting new people and seeing the sights that I always wanted to. Need to learn more about tours. Thirty-seven people on one bus is probably seventeen too many. More breaks are necessary if you're going to cover long distances. All in all. I'm glad I did it!

Copper Canyon Trip Thursday

So I got bored with the numbering! Our bus down the mountain took us to Creel where we had time to shop and see the square. I always like to take pictures of churches. Instead of having an historic church on the square, they had this very modern one. The first picture is the front of the church and the second is the back. Notice the fancy confessionals and what I'm assuming is a choir loft. On the left front was a side chapel which could be completely closed off, and I figured was for parents with small children (I don't have a picture). Someone in this town must have money. I'll have to Google it to see what fuels their economy. Should have paid closer attention to Carlos's lecture.

As you can tell by now, I love to take pictures of ordinary people, and evidently these people were used to tourists. Some even asked for money; some of my fellow travelers volunteered to pay them. I don't know if they had market day every day on the plaza, but it was full of vendors with not just tourist items, but household items.

In this shop I bought an apron for my friend Karen who loves to cook. It has Indian designs and appliqued Tarahumara Indian dolls on it. Below is our LOSER bus! Not really. The company that Carlos evidently worked for was called A CLOSER LOOK, but the marquee was scrolling and I caught a funny.

This is a picture of my friends Maria and Marilyn. Maria's husband doesn't like to travel, so he's at home taking care of Maria's two horses; Marilyn is a somewhat recent widow with a successful real estate business who travels extensively any chance she gets. The restaurant where the picture was taken is in a town called Guerrero in the heart of Mormon country. Our food was delicious and since they have miles of apple orchards, we had hot apple pie with homemade ice cream for dessert. I did indulge.

Our stop for the evening and our farewell dinner was in Casas Grandes Nuevo. The hotel was like an American one; I had just gotten used to the quaintness of our other ones and was rudely brought back to the real world. The closer one gets to the United States the more they want to mimic American culture; I guess they think that's what Americans want. I preferred absorbing their culture. On the bus that afternoon, we were shown a video explaining how the Indians make and fire their pottery. Before we went into the restaurant for dinner, two local artists demonstrated how they fire their beautiful creations. It's rather primitive, more like lighting a bonfire. After dinner, the gentleman with the pony tail which I think you've seen in at least two pictures volunteered to be the auctioneer for several pieces of pottery. My friend Marilyn got the first, and even though Maria tried, she was outbid in her attempt. Not to worry, we'll be able to buy some at the museum tomorrow. Marilyn had the honor of having her picture taken with the artists and the other winners. Back at the hotel, everyone was trying to connect to the Internet. We were supposed to have service on the bus, but it was so slow as to be non-existent. Tomorrow is going to be another long day of riding and not knowing how long it will take us to get across the border at Nacho.

Copper Canyon Trip Day Six

Several of us hiked to the edge of the canyon rim to see the sunrise this morning. We were not disappointed. The second picture is of the first hotel ever built at the canyon. It is very beautiful, but does not always have water. The owners of the hotel where we are staying have their own access to water as you will see later.

This is one of the Indian dwellings down in the canyon. It is very rocky, but they find a little soil to have a garden. The Tarahumara Indians were supposed to give us a basket weaving demonstration after breakfast, but didn't show up. Carlos said that was normal, so he took us to an elementary school in the village. This was so much fun. The students were first through fifth grade and so well-behaved, but you could tell by their eyes that they were holding back their mischief.

They danced for us probably something similar to our square dancing. One young lady with a wonderful voice sang a solo. Two boys demonstrated how they train for their foot races which the Indians are world famous for. Don't you just love it when I end a sentence with a preposition? The whole group sang the Mexican national anthem. Then Carlos asked us the sing our national anthem. There were only three couples who weren't from the states. I was so proud of our group; we sang our hearts out, and I was misty-eyed at the end.

We had such a wonderful group of generous caring individuals. They purchased items and donated willingly for any cause suggested. We naturally gave to these children who performed for us and made us so welcome. Each of us also received a personal note with a message and sample of their handwriting and art. We were all so touched.

Next we went to visit the granddaughter of a seer. She is evidently learning to take her grandmother's place. Four of my companions volunteered to let her tell them what their physical problems were. She was very entertaining. The rest of the family was there to sell. The shawls below were beautifully woven, but that's not why I shot the picture obviously. That little boy was just too cute!

This is the tram that was supposed to take us to the bottom of the canyon, but it's not completed yet, so they took us to a point somewhat lower and toward the middle. About 15 or 20 of my companions chose to do the zip line and said it was a real blast.

This fellow is playing the fiddle right there on the very edge. Naturally, there were more vendors.

Our next stop was a picnic/barbecue lunch next to the spring-fed lake that our hotel owned. It was very pretty and had a rock formation that reminded us of Stonehenge.

This was how we roughed it for our lunch. Notice the shelter, tablecloths, and large area where they cooked our brisket. Also my two new friends from San Diego, Maria and Marilyn.

After lunch I elected to go on another guided hike of the rim of the canyon and we met some cave dwellers. You can see that their home is built into the side of the canyon wall. It's not that evident in this picture, but the canyon wall is blackened from their outdoor fires.

Another cutie who seems to be in charge of selling those rocks. Does his mother know how close he's sitting to the edge?

Back to the hotel dining room for Happy Hour, a good dinner, and a gent playing the guitar for entertainment. Our last night in the canyon. After breakfast tomorrow, our big bus will meet us at the bottom of the driveway and take us to our next destination.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Copper Canyon Day Five

Taking pictures on the train was difficult, because of the reflection from the window and the movement of the train. The "observation deck" was the area between two cars where the wind and rocking motion were a thrill a minute. No problem, some of these brave people claimed ownership to the choicest spots. I know Byron's DVD will come through to cover this small inconvenience.

I did get this shot of one of the vendors as we were pulling into the train station. It was reminiscent of pictures that my children's father took in Korea. The hotel bus met us plus one other van since we were such a large group. The vendors had taken up position in front of the hotel, and I was over-whelmed. The basket group was in seventh heaven. Carlos took us on a nature hike to the rim of the canyon which turned out to be full of more vendors.

I didn't get any pictures of the vendors, nor was I smart enough to buy what I wanted that first afternoon. I figured it would be the same the following day, but not so; I missed my chance. Luckily, I wasn't a total goof; I got a picture of the canyon.

These people were so photogenic in their bright colors and expressive eyes. The women start having children when they are eleven and twelve; the mortality rate of their babies is less than fifty per cent. They live all over the canyon in very primitive conditions and they seem happy.

A parting shot of the canyon before getting ready for dinner. Our food was always good and plentiful. I'm sure all of us have gained weight.

Copper Canyon Trip Day Four

After breakfast I took as many pictures as I could, because this was by far the most quaint of our lodgings. This is the front door on the inside of my room. The room was brick and stone throughout. Again, I had a strange and antiquated locking system on my door.

This is the window with beautiful white curtains held apart with what looks like beaded jewelry ties. The view from the window is the very last picture.

The blue dresser looks like some I've seen hand-made here in Mexico but with an antiqued kind of finish. All the accents in the room were of that blue color.

My shower had beautiful stone work handsomely done. My sink is made of some kind of stone, very primitive-looking. Notice in the picture below that the sink is sitting on a Singer sewing machine frame. There were many of those frames used in various ways throughout the complex. The decorator had a grand time from what I can tell.

As you can see the patio furniture is incredibly comfortable. While we had our evening libation, they played classical guitar music, and I thought I died and went to heaven.

Columns with nothing to hold up. Great idea for a picture. Below is the view from my room window with yet another idea for using Singer frames.

I wandered toward the square while waiting for everyone to board the bus. It's a fifteen minute ride to the train station and we have to be sure to take everything we want from the bus, because our driver is going to take it to the other side of Copper Canyon.

Copper Canyon Day Three

Pictured below is the hotel where I stayed: Casa de los Tresoros. It took three different hotels to house the group. I was lucky, because I thought mine was the best. It was originally a nunnery as you can tell by the cell like rooms with strange doors and locks. I neglected to take a picture of the locks.

This is a desk with a window opening above. Only one side is open. Below is the door out to the courtyard. It seemed very tropical here in Alamos even though I know we gained in elevation.

There was no heat in the room. If you got cold, there were logs and a bottle of kerosene to light a fire.

We had a local tour guide; Carlos had the morning off. The guide did an excellent job showing us around town. Most of the houses have been bought by snow birds and restored. Some are used for commercial purposes and others just maintained as family homes.We visited a local library and the town hall. Above is a view of the church from the street where my hotel was, and below is a view from directly in front.

The woman on the far right is doing a pottery demonstration, but most of the audience is enthralled with her young daughter. All of the little kids were so cute and animated.

Above is a sandpaper bush. The flowers were outstanding, but the bushes' curly green leaves feel like sandpaper. After lunch we boarded the bus for a long ride through beautiful farming country before climbing to the town of El Fuerte. It was dusk when we arrived, and the hotel greeted us with a traditional margarita, excellent dinner and music on the patio. Later a troupe of Folklorico Dancers performed for us. Perhaps when I get Byron's DVD I can share some of the color of their costumes.