A Day in Creel

October 11, 2008

A Day in Creel

There was a warm shower when I awoke, which was nice because the night before it only a thought of it being warm.  Last night while walking to the bar, Alex the hotel manager said he would give me a map of the area and tell me the good places to visit.  After last night, he was still asleep, so I walked up to the high street and a tour operator who was happy to give out free information for me and my motorcycle.
I bought some water and fruit juice and some honey nut bars and had two tacos at the taco stand for breakfast.
I decided to find the waterfall first, and set out on the motorcycle, but after five miles of riding, and not even half way there, I decided to turn around and stop at the lake on the way.  It is a beautiful lake, but I later found out that it is artificial; they build a damn on one end.  As I got off the bike a van pulled up and some tourists got out.  They looked American and in their 60’s and instantly I hated them, I did not to have anything to do with them.  I wanted to get away from them as quickly as possible.  I guess I should not be so judgmental, and that they are probably good people, and then I realized that I was not in a very good mood, too much drinking the night before, and not enough sleep.  I climbed down the boulders that lined the edge of the lake and walked along its shore.
The lake was a deep blue, which reflected the scattered clouds and the reddish brown boulders on the other side.  The rocks are like giant marbles placed along the edge of the lake, with pine trees setting on top.
There was a strange concrete structure, it looked like an outhouse, but why would they build an outhouse on the edge of the lake?  I looked inside the concrete box, and there was nothing inside, except a hole, in the back wall, at the bottom, in the middle.  Exactly where a toilet would let out its contents into the lake.  But I have no idea what it was used for.

Just a few feet away, the dried out remnants of a dog lay on the ground.

I continued to walk around the edge of the lake, but blocking my path was a house, and when I got near a dog began barking.
I retraced my steps back to the bike.

On the road on the way back to Creel was a small village called San Ignacio de Arareko.  The entrance is a dirt road off the highway, with a small white shack and an uplifted border-crossing bar.  I slowly motored past and a man came out of the shack.  He was thing and dark and weathered.  The deep lines in his face described yeas of outdoor work.  He said something I did not understand.  But I understood the meaning.  “Cuantos?”  I asked. (How much?)  ‘Quince’ he answered (Fifteen).   I gave him my only bill, a 200-peso note.  He disappeared into the hut.  He was gone a long time, long enough for me to wonder what had happened to him.
When he finally returned he gave me five 20 peso notes and a 50 peso note, and he looked confused.  And I smiled at him and realized that he really did not know how to deal with money.  I assumed he had lived in a little village all his life, and never really needed money.
He had given me 150 pesos back and was 35 short.   I held the money in my hand and said ‘Un cien ochenta y cinco peos’ (185 pesos) and he looked even more confused.  Again he disappeared into the little white hut.  He reappeared after some time with a 20-peso note.  I opened my mouth to tell him he still owed me 15 pesos, but decided that it was not worth it.  He smiled at me, and I smiled at him and I said gracias and adios and he said something I did not understand and I was on my way.
So I paid 30 pesos to get in, and just to be sure I had not made a mistake, the little ticket he gave me said:  ‘Adultos $15.00 Vale por 1 dia’
(The dollar sign confused me on the first day as well, for some reason Mexico uses the dollar sign as a symbol for pesos.)

Photographs from the village San Ignacio de Arareko.

Pictures of a roadside shrine.

Now maybe I should begin to mention some of my disappointment with Copper Canyon.  I was told that it was bigger than the Grand Canyon and the most wonderful thing to see.  But I was not really impressed.  All I had seen was riding up to Creel and that was beautiful, rolling hills with pine trees.  But nothing astounding.  Nothing that took my breath away.
Like this little valley, it was beautiful, a small dirt road, pockmarked with holes, and on either side small fields of corn.  Interspersed with the fields were small ramshackle houses, some new and concrete but most a collection of tin and wood and whatever else could be found.  Beyond the fields and the houses were the boulders, the dark red boulders which created the hills surrounding the valley.
The problem was that I was told it was more impressive than the Grand Canyon.  It was beautiful, yes, but as majestic, no.
But then again, maybe I was missing the good parts.
There must be beautiful dramatic canyons around here, I am just missing them, and so I decided to take the road down to Divisidaro.  I was not really happy with riding the bike around all day; I had done that yesterday and was going to do that again tomorrow.   Today should be a day for walking.
The road to Divisidaro is beautiful, winding through the soft mountains, with pine trees on each side and slow gentle curves.  Beautiful and soft, but not awe inspiring.  At the ten-mile mark, with twenty more to reach Divisidaro, I stopped at a little dirt patch on the side of the road.  I ate one of the honey nut candies and drank some water and decided that I did not want to ride the bike the whole 20 miles to Divisidaro if it was going to be like this, and then the 30 miles back.
A newish clean while pickup truck, with three mid-thirties gentlemen inside, stopped when they saw me.  They asked, with my faltering English if I needed any help.  I said no and thanked them for stopping and they drove off toward Creel.  I felt a little nervous with someone stopping to check on me in the middle of nowhere, so I climbed back on the bike and rode toward Creel.  Within two minutes, they passed me coming the other direction.  I was instantly paranoid.  Where they turning around to come and talk to me again?  This is an empty road, with no towns and very few turn offs, why would they turn around?  Am I being paranoid?   Nothing bad had happened, and there was no reason to be really worried.
Well, except those 10 mock up coffins that were displayed on the main street of Creel, with a picture of each of the dead, including a child, above each coffin.  And on the wall above the black coffins there was a crudely spray-painted sign, asking where was the justice in the horror of these deaths?  With a date in late August 2008.
I rode back to Creel, curled up in bed and read my book.

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1 Response to A Day in Creel

  1. Plaid says:

    You made it to Creel! I’m sorry it didn’t make the impression on you that it did me… less for it’s beauty than it’s small-town welcome-ing.

    Where did you end up staying? Not Margarita’s, I’m assuming? Cuz it definitely left an impression on me.

    Glad to hear you are doing well… keep reminding us on the list that you’re writing this, it’s been awesome to follow your travels (specially since I know where you are…).



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