Sunday, October 30, 2011


Greetings from Creel! After writing our last blog post Sarah and I decided to spend some time at the local bar. It's amazing how friendly and interested the locals are. It doesn't hurt that Sarah is a pretty girl with a bald head :-). We had another lost in translation type moment where I interpreted the bartender as saying they were out of beer and then watching him give beer to everybody else. I figured out my mistake pretty quickly. We had un Indio, which comes in a 40 ozs style bottle. We met many people, a girl named Carla who had actually lived in Denver for a few years, and a young man named Huberto who said to let him know if anybody gave us trouble, yet he assured me we were not in a "barrio peligroso." The man sitting next to me, Alejandro, regaled me with the wonders of the landscapes that can be seen on El Chepe, the train that goes from Chihuahua city to Los Mochis on the coast of Sinaloa. We had originally planned to take a bus from Chihuahua to Mazatlán, but we decided based on his advice, that we should take the train instead. Sarah met a couple from Veracruz, they seemed to have an endless thirst for tequila...and were going to a "monster fiesta" later that night. Despite it being a monster party, we were tired and decided to call it a night.
The next morning we decided to go to Grutas de Nombre de Dios, or the Grottoes of the name of God. Getting there was quite an adventure. We took a bus, which we thought would take us there, but apparently the Grutas are in a neighborhood called Nombre de Dios which is quite large. After we had driven for a while, passing schools, and a lot of industry, I asked the student sitting in front of us where we should get off to go to the Grutas. He gave us a quizzical look and said that we could walk but it's very far east. So we yelled "baja" as is typical to make the bus stop and started heading east. After walking for about an hour and a half, asking several people for directions, and possibly going in a circle, we stopped at a local Inn and asked the concierge for help. Turns out the concierge used to work in Woodland Hills. He explained to us that we could walk to the Grutas, but it was at least 7 or 8 kilometers, so we took a quick taxi. The Grutas were really spectacular. Inside the caves it is very humid, and all the rock formations have funny names like Eagle, or Tyrannosaurus Rex. Originally they had found silver, but it turns out there wasn't very much. After exploring the caves and going up and down hill underground for a while, we decided it was time to relax, but it turns out that really the only way to get back to the downtown area of Chihuahua is by car. Our tour guide was nice enough to offer to take us back to town in his truck, and wouldn't accept any gas money. Very nice employees, and the tour of the Grutas is definitely worth it, just be sure to review some Spanish as the tour is not offered in English. We had a very economical lunch which consisted of a dozen tacos for about three dollars at Taqueria Anita, delicious! Also a guitarist came by and played Sarah's favorite mariachi song (using the word favorite rather lightly). We took a quick siesta at the hotel and then headed back to downtown to catch a ride on the Trolley Turistico.
Althouh the Trolley was 100 pesos per person, which seemed a little steep given our budget, it was a lot of fun. The driver/tour guide obviously had a lot of pride in Chihuahua, and was very knowledgeable. We got to see the house where Pancho Villa lived with his second of 25 wives, as well as many colonial, and 19th century buildings. In addition, they even had the car that Pancho Villa was assassinated in, a specially made Dodge from the early twentieth century. The tour guide also gave us some info about the train we took today, El Chepe.
El Chepe runs through the Sierras from Chihuahua to Los Mochis. The paisajes(landscapes) are really beautiful with the tres, mountains and the Copper Canyon, allegedly bigger than he Grand Canyon. El Chepe leaves at six every morning and so we got up early and grabbed a cab, in our haste I had forgotten to get small change from the hotel, and when we arrived at the train station, the cabbie was not pleased when I tried to give him 200 pesos for a 50 peso fare. Since it was Sunday, banks were closed, eventually we settled on ten American dollars, or roughly 125 pesos, so I guess he got a pretty good tip for my early morning forgetfulness. Finally we walk into the train station, only to find that the taquila(ticket window) is closed on Sunday! After speaking with the conductor, he said that we can buy tickets on board, but we must pay in cash. I explained our situation, how we had planned to pay with credit card, didn't have thousands of pesos in our pockets, he called over one of the military police and had him escort us into another locked building that had an ATM. Luckily we asked the soldier how much the fare was as he informed us that on Sundays only the primers class is available and it's twice as much as we had expected, oops. The ATM worked and we finally got on our way.
On the bus the conductor recommended that we stay at Plaza Margarita in Creel. We arrived to find that rooms there were about 700 pesos/Night. After some discussion they explained that there is another branch of the hotel with slightly less amenities and we were able to negotiate the price down to 200 pesos/night. On the bus we met a Frenchman, Bruno, doing a round the world tour. He said that he was in a few cities in the states, and has come to Mexico a few days ago and knew no English or Spanish before his trip. We tried to help him as he too was about to spent 700 pesos/night. So here we are, relaxing after a glorious train ride, it appears that the first class ride really caters to wealthy Mexicans, and there are many resturants here in Creel that do the same. We have been approached several times to go on tours and the prices seem a bit outrageous, so we will have to do some negotiating. Also, there is a holiday going on, a celebration for Cristo Rey, we will have to check out the festivities tonight. The internet is extremely slow here, so we may not be able to post pictures, but check Facebook just in case.

1 comment:

  1. Shappy,
    Mr. Tolle informed me of your Latin American journey so thought I'd chime in. First off, I commend you for having the cojones to do this, you're in for an amazing experience of a lifetime and will definitely be a changed man after this! I've traveled in many of the areas you're visiting (South of Mexico, that is), so I'd be happy to give you some travel tips. Areas I've been include much of Costa Rica, all over Colombia (my wife and I got married in her home town of Cartagena and have traveled throughout her beautiful country), Peru (Trujillo, Lima, Cusco, Machu Piccu), and Iguazu Falls. (my sister also honeymooned in Florianopolis, Brazil so I know a little about that area as well.
    I wish you and your wifey the best of luck man, be safe and let me know if I can help once you get to Costa Rica. My email is
    - J