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Northern Mexico & the Copper Canyon

Grand Circle Travel

May 8 -  21, 2008

This travel adventure began at the La Posada Lodge in Tucson, Arizona. 

Our travel group was 42 members strong.  Most of the participants

were from the western part of the USA.  We had the usual

orientation meeting in the late afternoon.  Some people were

late arriving due to travel problems. 


The La Posada Lodge was very nice.  The building were in the

southwestern style of architecture.

We boarded our tour bus at 8:00 am and thus began our

adventure in Northern Mexico.

 We drove on a major interstate toward El Paso.  At Deming, New Mexico

we turned south and drive toward the border.  Our last USA town was Columbus, NM.

We crossed the border at Palomas, Mexico.  The customs stop was just a quick

formality and then it was off to our lunch stop at the Pink Restaurant. 

The famous border fence at the crossing.

In the background of this photo is the crossing point at the border.

Lawn figures on sale at the Pink Restaurant.  They had all types of Mexican

products on sale including glassware, pottery and lots of jewelry. 

It was an interesting place to have a good lunch.

Our second night on the road was at the Hotel Hacienda in Casa Grandes. 

We are staying here for two nights.  We had a delicious steak dinner at the

hotel after our long days ride to Casa Grande.

After dinner, I discovered that the local baseball team from Casa Grande had

a home game.  So it was "take me out to the ball game."  The game was

a minor league contest.  Lots of exciting action, baseballs going through

fielders legs, stolen bases, and lots of crowd noise.  The home team won 7-4. 

While I could not understand the game announcements the game was good old baseball. 

On May 10th, our first stop of the morning as at a local craft studio that

made jewelry from native minerals of Mexico.  Above is the shops jewelry

display of items for sale.  The women of the group really likes the

jewelry on sale. Most of the men just hung out in the back of the display area.

Our stop was at the Juarez Mormon community.  We were given a

community tour that was narrated my a member of the Mormon community. 

The Mormon's move to Mexico where they could practice their faith freely

and also contribute to the economic development in the area.

The Juarez Mormon Temple.

After our Juarez stop, it was off to the tiny village of Mati Ortiz where we

visited a local potter's house to view a master artisan at work.  The

demonstration included throwing, turning and firing superb ceramic works. 

The pottery piece they made were mainly pots of various size that

had been decorated with typical Mexican designs.

Watching the potter's demonstration of creating a ceramic piece. 

Ceramic pieces were fired in the yard of the potter's studio.  The pieces were

placed on a fireproof base and a large vessel was placed over the piece.

 Above is the fire burning over the piece to temper it into a hard ceramic piece. 

After the piece is cooled it is hand finished so it can be sold.  The firing

level was not hot enough to allow the ceramics to hold liquids.

After our visit to the local pottery studio we boarded this train to travel

across the village to have lunch at a local home. 

As we rode across the village we were attacked by a local Indian. 

He is pictured with one of our tour group.  Then we had time

to tour the village before heading back to Casa Grande.

This evening we had an optional Mexican dinner at a local restaurant. 

After dinner, we were entertained by a group of local college students

who played traditional Mexican music. 


The next morning we visited the ruins of Paquime that are near Casa Grande. 

This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Below are some of the

ruins that make up this historic site.

This historic site is notable for the diversity is has revealed over the years. 

From approximately 700 to 1500AD, three different peoples- the Pima,

the Concho and the Tolima- inhabited Paquime.  Paquime in it heyday

was an active trading center located between the Pueblo and

Mesoamerican regions. In the museum on the site could be seen

the influences of both north and south in the artifacts on display.  There was

evidence of advanced architectural features, including

indoor plumbing and walls that dissipated the desert heat.

We returned to our hotel for lunch before heading out

to our next stop. Chihuahua.

In the rear of this photo is the Hotel Palacio Del Sol in downtown

Chihuahua.  It was a modern facility which did not

have hot water for my shower on the first morning of our

two night stay.  Ouch!  The hotel was well located for

walking around the downtown area of the city.

The morning of May 11th, we had a early walking tour of the market area. 

Above is a typical open air store selling women's clothing.

While walking around the city market we came upon a

store owner with her real Chihuahua. 

The Chihuahua Cathedral dominates the city's main Plaza.

Our first stop of the next morning was at a city park where a

large statue of Anthony Quinn dominated the skyline.

An ornate park bench near the the Mexican "Cradle of Liberty," where

many prominent names of the nation's history are

connected to this city of one million.

The Palacio de Gobierno.  This is one of the outstanding building of the XIX century. 

There are many historical exhibits in the building.  Many beautiful

murals are painted on the interior walls of the building.

One of the murals undergoing restoration.

Our last stop of the morning was at the home of the Mexican hero

General Francisco "Pancho" Villa.  This museum is filled with Villa's

firearms, cartridge belts, and the bullet riddled car villa

was driving when he was ambushed and killed.

We had a free afternoon.  It was necessary for each of the tour members

to pack an overnight bag for the next portion of the trip. 

We will be staying at our hotel for the next two nights.

The morning of May 13th we began our day long trip to Divisadero.

On the way to Divisadero we stopped for lunch at this restaurant

located in an Apple Orchard.  We had a very tasty Mexican meal.

The Hotel Divisadero Barrancas at the Copper Canyon.

The  front entrance into the Hotel Divisadero Barrancas.

Cooper Canyon

Sunset on the Copper Canyon walls.

Copper Canyon Sunset!

Sunrise at the Copper Canyon

Breath taking views!

On the next morning we toured  to other outlooks along the canyon rim. 

Our first stop was at a building site where we learned about making adobe building

blocks.  A local craftsman is shown above making of a set of adobe blocks. 

On the right is our hard working tour guise Raul Rodriguez who lives in Chihuahua.

We also visited a local church.  Local vendors were present

to sell us Mexican handicraft products.

Barranca del Cobre scenery.

Another rim walk trail view.

Camera shots in every direction.

The cliffs behind the hotel.  Some native Indians live in caves up there.

For the second part of our visit to the Copper Canyon we traveled on the

El Chihuahua Pacifico Railroad to El Fuerte.  It is a seven hour plus trip. 

we were in a carriage with custom seating.  Above our train is pulling

into our local station at Divisadero.  The station area was very interesting as

local vendors sold the usual Mexican handicraft items and others cooked

food for the passengers to buy during the train's twenty minute stop.

All Aboard!

Rounding a canyon curve!

Passing the up bound train.

The train crews trade places for the second part of their run.

Canyon scenery from the train.

The railroad bridge we are headed for as we travel down to the last stop of the trip. 

Our path travels the most scenic portion of the entire Sierra Madre Rail route. 

We will travel over dozens of bridges, thought scores of tunnels. 

We will pass titanic cliffs, remote villages pine forests, and vast canyon lands..

A local station stop as we travel along.

Crossing one of the many bridges.

Tunnel ahead!

Blue sky's and mountains, Perfect!

End of the line at El Fuerte.  It was a great train ride!

The entrance to the El Fuerte Hotel, our stopping place for the next two days. 

The building was originally a very large house and it was later added on to

and became a hotel.  The hotel was furnished with many pieces of art and

native furnishings.  It was museum in one sense of the manner it was decorated. 

Our first morning in El Fuerte was spent visiting the Indian village of Tehuecco. 

We learned about the life of the Mayo people who live in the village. 

There was a demonstration of how to make corn tortillas.  Above are the ruins of one of the

villages older church and the church currently in use.

We also visited the village elementary and middle schools. 

The children were on holiday when we were there.

Some kids were around the school and they became my new friends. 

They were fascinated with the pictures I took on my digital camera.

A Mayo Indian dancer performed for the group.

A father and son perform one of the deer dances. They had

small deer heads attached to their heads for the dance.

The dancer's costume was very highly decorated.

Meanwhile back at the hotel I found a ladder that would

not pass OSHA standards.

El Fuerte city hall.

A church in El Fuerte near the city square.

Our last evening in El Fuerte was a festive celebration with Mexican dancers

on a show before we had delightful buffet of Mexican dishes.  The only down

side to our visit to El Fuerte was the swarms of no-see'ms that stung everyone. 

The dancing was in an open courtyard at the hotel and everyone got chewed on good.

On May 17, found our tour group headed for San Carlos.  It was a day long bus ride,

very boring.  Above is the San Carlos Plaza Hotel which will be our home

for the next three days.  It was very nice with a great beach and sally water to

help cure our bug bites.  We were also given a great deal of free time to allow us a

chance to relax before the day long ride back to Tucson. 

This island is in the San Carlos harbor area.  It is called by some

people the snow island because it is covered with white bird poop.

One morning we visited a cactus garden.

After the cactus garden we visited a pearl farm.  We were given a lecture

on how these pearls are raised and what techniques were used in breeding

pearls.  This shot shows the buoy's used to hold up the pearl farm in the water. 

Lastly there was the usual tourist trap gift show room where one could buy these pearls. 

Next it was back to the hotel for an afternoon of rest.  The last event of the day was

a sunset cruise and dinner at a local restaurant.  The meal was great. 

My last sunset shot!  Tomorrow we drive all day to Tucson.  A Mexican military

inspection turned out to be a 20 minute stop.  Trucks awaiting

this inspection were backed up for miles.  US Customs crossing stop took an hour. 

We had to take all our belongs out of the bus so the could be x-rayed. 

At last, we were in Tucson where we had our good-bye dinner.

It was a enjoyable trip.  For me the highlight was the

Copper Canyon and the Train ride.