12 Mar From Copper Canyon to El Fuerte
El Fuerte means “the strong”.
John had made enquiries at the Barrancas train station to discover whether we could pay by credit card and the conductor told him no, followed by a very theatrical “show me the caaaash!!!!)
Given our remaining Mexican currency, and the fact there were no ATMs in Barrancas, this meant taking economica (614 pesos each) rather than primera, which was around 70% more. We gave the conductor 1250 and because he carried no change he gave us 50 back. Bargain.
We left a little late from Barrancas train station but still arrived half an hour early in El Fuerte, to get a cab to our hotel, the Rio Vista (120 pesos cab ride, sharing with others.)
First the train trip. OMG. The photos here attempt to show some of the amazing grandeur and diversity of our magnificent views of the Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre). This train is a “must experience”.
To travel in this direction, the very best views are from seats on the left, which we were lucky to get. We took the “economica” option and found there is very little difference between first and second class. In first class the seats have been reupholstered with quality fabric and the floor is carpeted. In second class it’s the same seats but with old fabric and the floor is vinyl.
Rather than eat the crap served up, we bought some coated peanuts and enjoyed those with our water. We’d been eating so much good food that our stomachs were pleased of the break.
The Rio Vista hotel felt like authentic Mexican. Really nice people welcoming us and helping with bags. It was rough but in a really charming way that the photos of course don’t do justice to. The view from our balcony of the river was lovely. Internet next to impossible, but at least I was able to sit in a rocking chair outside the office door to be able to check news from home and hear hopeful news from my sister about my dear Mum.
The room was very basic, bathroom small and no hairdryer. Beds (2 small doubles) with rather awful mattresses. However if I didn’t need Internet I’d happily stay there for weeks just enjoying the ambience, reading, exploring, and definitely learning more Spanish. It’d make a really great bolt hole. (This is Christine speaking, not John.)
We were warned about a horrendous mosquito and fly problem but weren’t ourselves bothered. We’d got out our insect repellant expecting the worst but really no problem at least at that time. Since so many people warned us, we figure it’s still good advice for future.
We had dinner down the road at Don Raphael, beer and a marguerita and some delicious Mexican food and a great red. John meant to order steak, but accidentally ordered fish, using Google Translate to specify “medium rare”. I nearly snorted my wine.
I didn’t really know what I ordered, except it was some kind of meat (carne) and recognised words for refried beans, guacamole, mushrooms, and coriander, so I figured it would be great. It was.
We were the only diners. Service was excellent.
The centre of El Fuerte is quite beautiful and very neat and tidy with a large central garden/park and very interesting buildings and houses, traversed by stone-paved streets. If we’d had more time we would have liked to really explore.
The night life was rocking, with probably a kind of disco, and an open-style lit-up party bus driving around the centre park fairly continuously.
Must hit the Spanish study. Accents must be improving as more of our attempts are being at least partially understood. What I mean by that is that they’re picking up enough of our gibberish that they are working out what we are trying to say.