Friday, December 6, 2019

El Fuerte to Areponapuchi, el seis de Deciembre, 2019

Sandy, my friend from Hong Kong and I took a cab to the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico or El Chepe train station and it arrived almost on time at 8:19-

There were about 10 passenger cars so room for everyone to have a right side window seat.  We were told to sit in specific cars based on where we were going.  It cost $42 for the regional train compared to $73 for the tourist class and the difference?  They have access to the dining car-

I sat in many different seats as I moved to avoid all the chatter and then eventually forward to be in the right car for my exit at Pasado Barrancas.  The trip travels through the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range.  The canyon system is larger and in some places deeper than the Grand Canyon. The majority of the landscape is inaccessible but in the mid-1960s, after nearly 60 years of on and off construction, the painstaking process of laying railway tracks through the canyons was completed.  The route is 653 km of track, a journey that takes anywhere from 9 to 16 hours.  It crosses over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels. It climbs to an elevation of 2400 m (7900 ft) and descends to sea level.
Along the way-

One of the 86 tunnels-

When we left El Fuerte, we were at around 490 meters altitude but we got as high as 2100 meters.  The track we have just come on can be seen below-

And then poof, we were in pretty flat land-

The route is quite amazing.  Just thinking of the human power it would have taken to build such a track is mind boggling.  So many tunnels, up, down - it’s quite a feat and for so few people living in the area.  It was probably built to haul the copper and silver out of the canyons so worth every penny.

The villages are pretty rubby and the train I was on stops at 13 of them-

 People sell what they can-

I have no idea what este hombre would do with that gigantic pumpkin/gourd.  The black bag on the right had to have been filled with rocks because the first man who tried to pick it up couldn’t lift it.  He found a ride, threw his stuff in the back of the pickup and was gone.  No luggage restrictions on El Chepe-

The owner of the Esmeralda in Posada Barrancas met me at the station and we drove the 400 meters to the hotel.  I had lupper: enchiladas and fries. They wanted to serve it with frijoles and arroz but-

My room is nice-

I went walking in the tiny pueblo-

and found the church-

but no cerveza.  I climbed 150 steps up to a fancy looking hotel with a view over the village and had my first margarita of the trip-

Tomorrow I’ll walk up to the top of the canyon and go to the adventure park.  One nice thing about travelling this time of year is there are few tourists.  There are 15 rooms at the Esmeralda and I’m the only huesped.  The hotel up the hill has 80 rooms and only 4 are occupied.  I shouldn’t have to fight crowds!  

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