Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Uno Lodge

Our departure from the train at San Rafael was a process of rapid getting off, passing luggage down, and looking for our local travel agent representative. After we found him and loaded our luggage into his van, off we went. Two women travel companions also got off the train and joined us.

I find it difficult to really adequately describe the road we took but went up and down one mountain side and up another on terrain that might be described as dangerous enough to demand the utmost attention and care. Indeed, is many places brake failure would have meant death. We found out later that the van has new tires every 3 months, and new shocks and brakes every month as preventive maintenance. Being in the rainy season, every rain made deeper ruts which added to the excitement.
After 1 ½ hours we arrive just as it started to rain at the Uno Lodge. It sits on the rim of a large promontory and offers breathtaking ever changing vistas. The visible rock is limestone whose erosion by the river has made deep canyons. The first photo below came from the Internet.

Our room is in back of the tree on the right, giving us views from 3 sides.
The lodge is owned by the Tatahumara Indians. The Tarahumara or Raramuri, as they call themselves, inhabit the Copper Canyon. The Spanish originally encountered the Tarahumara throughout Chihuahua upon arrival in the 1500's, but as the Spanish encroached on their civilization the shy and private Tarahumara retreated for the nearly inaccessible canyons of the Sierra Tarahumara. Only the Jesuit missionaries followed at first and with only scattered success.

After mineral wealth was discovered in the mountains, many areas where Tarahumara Indians lived became desirable lands to the miners & mining companies forcing the Tarahumara once again to head farther into the remote canyons. Today, the Tarahumara are Mexico's second largest native Indian group with between 50,000 & 70,000 people.

Today the Tarahumara live in caves, under cliffs and in small wood and stone cabins in remote areas. They live a simple life undisturbed by modern technologies.

They are known as a quiet and considerate people who are expert farmers and runners.

Once we arrive we receive a few rules. Solar energy provides electricity and we are allotted 4 hours per day, which we really didn’t need as there were no outlets only two florescent lights. No paper in the flush toilets but 24 hour hot water if needed,

We have a very good dinner that night, with one of the workers providing some entertainment with his guitar and song. One of the persons at dinner was a young man working for saveourplanet.org essentially doing Peace Corps type work with the Tarahumara. We ask a lot of questions and gain a better understanding of the way of life for the Tarahumara. We have become adjusted to eat late, as the Mexicans do, so after dinner there is little to do except read until sleep time.

When I rise in the morning, it’s a perfect time to take some photos while above the clouds.
Later that day, we take a hike near the top of a waterfall which is in the center of the photo below.
This is a look at the terrain and flora found in the hiking trails. I am not much of a hiker and I spent a lot of time just looking at the rain clouds come and go.
After two nights, we left the next morning early and were slightly more relaxed on the way back. After we got back to San Rafael we were driven on to Divisadero, another mountain village where the Tarahumara Indians have a market along the train station.
Here is another great vista here. We bought a few pieces of jewelry for gifts.

We were driven back to San Rafael and we ate our box lunch as we waited for the train. The train was over an hour late. It was Sunday, as many Mexicans were on the train with children who made a lot of noise and ran up and down the aisle. Most were headed to Chihuahua like us.
This was not a pleasant part of the journey, especially after they closed the diner and the bar.
We got in very late and no one was there to meet us. We were able to contact the people responsible to meet us and they came ASAP. They had not been advised we were coming. So it seems obvious the coppercanyon.com is having trouble taking care of details since their key agent quit. Any Spanish speakers want a job?

Our original itinerary included a visit to the Pancho Villa’s museum and a city tour of Chihuahua, but we had an early flight and missed really seeing some interesting things, except as our driver pointed out on the way to the airport. We drove past a new baseball stadium and our driver said baseball is the most popular sport in Chihuahua is baseball. And it was Monday and all museums are closed on Monday.

As a result of this trip I have grown a great respect for the country and its people. It is a big country with a big variety of climates and people. It’s nearby and no time zone problems to deal with. It is not just a place to visit during the winter.


GETkristiLOVE said...

What was your altitude above the clouds there?

Those photos are amazing.

Dad E said...

I think we were at 7700 feet. A few times the photo would do justice to the visual experience, but sometimes no.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Wow! Gorgeous. Amazing. So jealous.