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November 8, 2005 09:22 PM

The Copper Canyon

La Paz and our beloved Baja are worlds away from us now. I'd intended to put something up a couple days ago, when the pristine waters of Balandra Beach were still fresh in my mind. I'd planned to paint a complete picture of the Utopian beach from the blue sky straight down to the sandy Ocean floor. I wasn't quite sure how to put it; what words could I use to describe the sharpness and utter blueness of the sky? There's gotta be a better word than 'blueness'; just a little longer and I'm sure I'll think of one. How was I to describe the impossible contrast that existed between the rocky desert mountains, that had the bay surrounded, and the color and diversity in the life that teamed below the surface of the water? I didn't have the words to illustrate the beauty inherent in the thin white band of beach that separated the two extremes. We were all alone in our paradise save two devastating spanish girls who remained always just out of conversations reach and eventually disappeared in a beat-up old jalopy; forever. I wanted to somehow describe the scene I saw as I moved my mask from the stark, above-water environment into an impossible, alien world teaming with schools of strange fish of every colour swimming amongst stingrays, manta rays and plain old sun-rays, then back up to the blistering desert above. The diving gear was our own (bought earlier in the day). This was no guided tour. We were discovering this strange world on our own. Yes, I've spent the last couple days contemplating how I would write it and have missed my chance.... The world wouldn't wait; the red arrow marking our position simply couldn't hold still. The moment has passed.

Two full days of travel have brought us out of the tropics more than 2 km above sea level to Creel, deep in the Sierra Madres. The first order of business on this leg of the journey was to get over to mainland Mexico. We were whisked across the Sea of Cortez aboard a giant ferry to Toplobampo escorted by a few curious dolphins and whales spouting their approval in the distance. After one night in Los Mochis on the coast it was time for something completely different.

The Copper Canyon Railway gets it's name from the the Barranca Del Cobre (Copper Canyon), the largest of 20 spectacular canyons. Nine of these canyons are actually deeper than Arizona's Grand Canyon. How anybody could build a railway through this terrific wilderness is beyond me. From Los Mochis it was a 12-hour roller coaster ride for little more than $30 USD aboard the economica class train. Half the price and, as far as I'm concerned, far better than the stuffy first class trains as much of our time was spent actually between the rail cars with our heads hanging out always peering around the next corner.

Our little-engine-that-could started like a pussy cat through sprawling farmland but finished like a lion as she spit and sputtered her way upward through infinite tunnels and over impossible spans. She bravely hugged the canyon walls paying no heed to discarded rail ties and wrecked rail cars crumbled below.

It may have something to do with the euphoria we both experienced as the train reached it's climax. I have no proof that it happened but Brian and I both swear that we saw the sun set multiple times from both sides of the train as she spiralled forever upward. Was she racing the sun? Was she winning? In any case, it did set and we arrived in the mountain town of Creel in the dark. It's early in the morning and if you'll excuse me, we've got some exploring to do...


Andy McLean said:

I'm pretty sure the word you're looking for is periwinkle.

November 10, 2005 07:58 AM