Saturday, August 07, 2004

Week 6 - San Cristobal de las Casas to Isla Mujures, Mexico

July 10-16, 2004

Turkey Springs, New Mexico to Mazatlan, Sinoloa


Today, Kiko and I walked to Mexico...literally.

Thank goodness we walked instead of taking a bus because the immigration portion was a bit of a hassle for Kiko and his Brazilian documents.  They all thought he was Mexican...very confusing.

When we arrived by foot to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, we were pleasantly surprised. It was very sad to hear negative talk about the city from the United States side in El Paso, Texas. We found the city to be nice...


Made it by bus from Ciudad Juarez to Chihuahua (another site). The 4-1/2 hour ride was nice and smooth...nice bus, air conditioning.

We arrived, looked at many places to stay and finally settled on one for MP$110 (Mexican Pesos) a night (about US$10).  After all of the hiking we did in New Mexico, we decided that we needed a bit of down time to rest and restore...and so, we spent two nights in Chihuahua. It is a very nice city with a beautiful cathedral in the center where families spend a lot of time together in the evenings.

Ended our first night in Mexico having a few beers at a bar near our hotel. Kiko and I danced polka style to a fun song - and were about to dance a second - but were stopped by the manager...I guess you cannot dance in bars (unless you have a license for dancing). By the end of the night, two guys from Mexico City (Samuel and Daniel) joined us at our table as Kiko and I attempted to converse in Spanish.


It is all about western wear here. People dress very nicely - the men mostly have tucked in western shirts, very nice cowboy boots, nice leather belts, big ol´belt buckles, and a cowboy hat. Just to give you an idea, while walking down a street in the shopping area, there were five cowboy boot stores all in a row!


The most amazing thing ever!!  This train ride. 

It made a train ride through the Grand Canyon or Rockies look like nothing.  For real!  

We went from desert, to farm land, to height desert, to evergreen alp-like somp´n somp´n, greener, greener, lush tropical like with banana trees...rode over 37 major bridges and went through 86 tunnels.  Rained all afternoon.  The service and train (the "economico" one) were GREAT!  Amazing views.  

Saw three cows stranded on a small island due to all of the rain (Kiko says they will be ok because they can swim - whew).  Saw a zebra (for real) on a ranch.  Waved to many local people as we went past - and they waved back with smiles.  Saw many colors of the native Tarahumaras (more Tarahumara sites).  Saw them hike up into the hills back to their pueblos after departing from the train. 
Made a few friends (Claudia and Janet).  Both returning from a University in Chihuahua. 
Slept the last 6 hours of the train ride as it was too dark to see anything anyway.
Oh ya, and the BEST part...we even got to stick our heads out of the windows on the train!!  :)  


The train got into Los Mochis at 2am.  Kiko and I hooked up with four other travelers to take a taxi into town.  It was perfect to have met up with them after the train ride because we did not really know what we were going to do at 2am.  Next we knew...we found ourselves sitting on an airconditioned bus - watching a movie, waiting to depart for Culiacan (where we had to switch busses).  PERFECT!

The bus ride from Los Mochis to Culiacan was great...slept mostly.  The bus ride from Culiacan to Mazatlan, however, was very very stinky...bad toilet.  The problem was finally fixed by the end of our ride.  Too late for us to enjoy the benefits, but better late than never for sure.
Made it to Mazatlan, found a super great, friendly, clean, cute hotel room (Lerma Hotel) for MP$100 (about $10 US).  And it even had a great cross breeze as it is very hot in Mazatlan this time of year. 
Oh ya, and in case you are wondering, my tummy is getting better...a bit rough for a while.  Thank goodness for Pepto-Bismol!


Very luckily enough, our hotel, Hotel Lerma, was far enough from the tourist driven industry that part of Mazatlan (two other sites) has become - yet we are only two blocks from the ocean.  Even cooler yet, we are just north of the old center (historic downtown).  We have yet to see any American tourists in this area, yet we did meet two folks from England.
I attended a catholic mass in a gorgeous old church.  The church is crooked.  Rumor has it that its "crookedness" was noticed soon after construction started - but they kept going anyway.
On the way to and from the old center, there were some youths very dangerously cliff diving - even at the pitch darkness of night - with torches and flares.  Amazing.   

The next day, Kiko and I took a five hour round trip walk north into the "Zona Dorado" (golden zone) - the hot spot for hotel/tourist spring-break type development.  It is 100% catered to American tourists (Subway, McDonald´s, Blockbuster, etc.).  So far - that is the only place we have seen American Tourists on our entire trip.  It is really sad that the whole area is catered to Americans - who fail to wander outside the "Zona Dorada" safe area, to see how wonderful real Mazatlan is.
Tomorrow - we think we are going to head inland.  This beach stuff is way too hot and humid.  But we will see....


Kiko - being from Brasil, where carnival is king, found it quite strange that there would be a pre-carnival parade at least six months before the actual celebration.  Regardless, this promotional parade for carnival in Mazatlan was very fun and colorful as many locals gathered to watch it.  The parade went along the ocean side.  It began just before sundown and went into the evening.  Very cool. 

<< Home
Previous >>
Next >>