Looking for the Horse
Trip Start Jan 23, 2011
195Trip End Feb 14, 2012
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Creel is a small town made up primarily of hotels (where the Best Western is the best hotel in town!), a few nothing to speak about restaurants, bars and coffee shops, some supermarkets and shops, a pharmacy or two, a cowboy clothing shop that we visited but left empty-handed, a few other local establishments and, of course, the train station
Urban legend has it that so many of the hotels remain empty, often closed up, as they are legitimate fronts to the illegal drug cartels. The other option is that Creel is a popular holiday destination for local Mexican people to escape the extreme heat of summer wherever they live as Creel is at a higher altitude and so cooler. I wonder which is the truth? Or is it a mix of both? :-)
We still decided to spend a few days here just chillin' (literally too :-) and making decisions on where next... We had already decided not to go on to Chihuahua city as the only reasons to go there are to go to the end of the train line, to catch a bus to elsewhere on that side of Mexico, or to say you have visited a city called Chihuahua. As we did not start at the beginning of the line in Los Mochis, had decided to go west, the opposite direction from Chihuahua after our Copper Canyon adventures, and were already in a province called Chihuahua, there was no reason to go to a city of the same name :-)
We spent our time enjoying the nothingness, wandering around and people watching, photographing and smiling at the mean looking but actually friendly army soldiers, catching up on "stuff", and doing nothing :-)
We did find a local eatery that was only big enough for about 6 people, including the cook lady, and served us the most delicious caldo (soup), laden with everything, with potatoes and tortillas on the side, and yummy spicy sauce to add as required
The town was so quiet that the two soft-serve ice-cream machines we found in town were both out of service! We did find a 5 Pesos shop (13 make 1US$) where we had fun buying some nonsense stuff including local choccies for our upcoming train ride.
On our last night we were pleasantly surprised by the two Swiss ladies, a few other travellers we had met and Matheus all returning from their trip to Batopilas, and Dee and Mario arriving on the train from El Fuerte. We all had a lovely reunion and the four of us South Africans chatted until late. It turned out most of us were heading off in different directions the next morning so the timing was perfect.
The weather in Creel had been really mixed up. Our zip-lining day was blue-skied and quite warm at times; most of the rest of the days were pretty chilly or freezing cold with the nights being so cold we all hardly ventured away from our heated rooms; and a couple of days before our train we had gone to see others off and watch the train come in but it was so cold that we were all wearing many layers, including beanies on our heads, that Annie and I gave up on the very late-running train and went and sat in the warmth of a coffee shop; then, while waiting for our train, the sun came out and had us standing around in t-shirts
Then, there it was, THE ONE HORSE of the town! Ridden by a real cowboy, coming along the side of the train tracks and, after doing what he had to, leaving town again. BRILLIANT! :-))
Our train was really late - we had arrived at the station at 11AM for the 11:30AM train, which arrived at 12:30PM. It's amazing how a train can be so late after so short a distance with so few stops from Chihuahua City but it does, almost every day. No-one is willing to risk missing the train so we all, except for a brave few, who we think must get a call from friends further up the line to tell them the train is almost in Creel as they arrived 5 minutes before the train (lucky them :-), stand and wait for as long as we need to. Most people were getting very bored and walking up and down the tracks to pass the time. One little boy had eaten all his train snacks and just sat on one track looking bored. We chatted with travellers and locals, enjoyed the sunshine, and got as tired of waiting as everyone else.
Much excitement - the train was approaching!
OH NO - to everyone's horror there were enormous, burly giant-gun-toting sunglasses-clad guards standing in the open doorways to stop anyone getting into the jam-packed to full "Economica" 2nd Class carriages
Apparently, if the train is full, it just doesn't stop at the next stations. We really wished that, at this important family time of year, they would put on more than just the three "Economica" trains a week that they do.
For a while the atmosphere on the train was really glum as people thought about the extra money they were having to spend but, as they remembered where they were going and the occasion, spirits lifted and the journey, happily, turned jovial.
We would be leaving the train at Bahuichivo where we would catch a "Chicken Bus" down to the town of Urique at the bottom of the deepest of the Copper Canyon's which was named the same as the town and river. We had decided that we would regret it if we passed it by and what's the rush anyway? :-)