Week 45: Batopilas, Divisadero, El Fuerte & Los Mochis. Mexico

The start of the week myself and Israel made the 4 hour journey to the bottom of the canyon to a small village called Batopilas.  I didn’t really know what to expect and just decided to go with the flow upon Israel’s recommendation.

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The  stunning road to Batopilas
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We stopped off en route to do some vulture spotting. There were loads of them!

We were warned the heat was insanely bad and they were right. Even sitting in the shade I was dying. All I could eat for the day was ice pops. We stumbled across Casa Monsay where we stayed. It was just an old woman who rented out dirty rooms full of cockroaches. I’m not exactly fussy so it did the job. Israel  on the other hand wasn’t  too sásta with the set up. We didn’t have any other choice as practically all of the hotels and restaurants were closed.  There was a really strange vibe in the place and felt like a ghost town. We were the only tourists in the small village of 1,800 people. It was absolutely stunning and has been titled as one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magicos. Israel had hay fever so took to the bed for the day.

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The beautiful buildings of Batopilas
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An extremely pretty little town

I went exploring by myself taking photos. A few people asked me was I a journalist and why was I here. It was a bit strange but I didn’t think anything of it. I was just chilling in the plaza when a group of kids almost attacked me. About 10 of them flocked around me with their teacher asking me would I mind answering a few questions in Spanish. This was bizarre as the first question was ‘cual es un cite sexual?’ (what is a sexual date?). A little bit taken a back I still tried to explain this in Spanish. I thought the kids would be giggling but they were full on serious. Quite an uncomfortable yet hilarious encounter.

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The local talent of Batopilas
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Childhood friends. They meet on the same bench everyday for the chats.

Anyway later that day I asked someone why there were so many armed guards and why everything was closed. It transpired that Batopilas is home to loads of Narcos. It is a well established place for drug production because the village is so inaccessible. Apparently they are trying to re vamp the village to attract tourism but people are still too scared to go ( We clearly didn’t get the memo). Obviously a gringo ‘journalist’ is probably not the best title to be carrying around. We both considered staying in Batopilas for the independence day celebrations. There was also an ultra marathon taking place in the canyon which I would have loved to have seen (I was invited to participate!!!). We both decided against it as there was absolutely nothing to do, nothing open and the heat was pretty unbearable. Still such a worthwhile place to see and completely off the beaten path.

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Independence day ready Batopilas
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This photo perfectly sums up Batopilas; a gun, a tarantula and an empty restaurant

The only way out of Batopilas was the 5 am bus. We arrived into Creel in the early am for some delicious coffee and we both parted ways. I decided to take a bus to another part of the canyon called Divisadero. I wasn’t too excited  about this and figured it would be really touristy because its main attraction was this adventure park, home to world’s longest zip-line. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I met Tim a lovely American on the bus who was struggling with the Spanish. We got lapping and he too was en route to Divisadero. We both presumed there would  be a town of some sort but all it has are a few extremely expensive hotels overlooking the canyon (pretty cool). I had decided to camp where we got dropped off. There were a few cabanas which had rooms for a reasonable price. Tim is a semi retired pilot from California backpacking solo around Mexico. He also is an avid motor bike traveler so he was giving me some dangerous ideas. Tim’s room had 3 double beds in it so he offered me a bed in place of the tent. As much as I love camping in my battered/bruised tent I couldn’t resist. Such a sound guy.

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Creel’s burrito buses

Tim had never been zip lining before so he convinced me to join him. I had decided not to do it having done it recently in Peru. I am so glad I did. So when we arrived at the park the place was completely deserted. We had panoramic views of the canyon it was amazing and completely to ourselves. Someone told us during the weekend/ holidays the place is crowded so we were lucky. We did  a circuit of 7 different zip lines and two different suspension bridges. It was incredible and worth every penny.

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Me at Divisadero’s Canyon
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Me and Tim on one of the suspension bridges
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Tim you legend!
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Sensational views from this cable car

I just can’t understand why nobody is here. Locals were saying lots of people still think the north of Mexico is extremely dangerous. Obviously it has its parts but I felt really safe. That evening myself and Tim got a few beers and trekked up to one of the fancy hotels overlooking the canyon and pretended to be guests. We drank our classy cans while watching the sunset into the canyon.

The next day me and Frenchie (another chap in the hotel) were up at the crack of dawn to do this trek to the bottom of the canyon. At dinner the night before a couple recommended we do it that the guide was amazing and it was the best trek they had done in their lives. Huge statements. I was afraid of missing out so decided to go for it. Turned out to be the biggest waste of money and we ended up just strolling along the side of the canyon to different miradors. We definitely could have done this ourselves but I have been warned several times that trekking in the canyon alone is really dangerous and I was asking for it. For once I took the sensible option.  You win some you lose some and definitely not the worse thing have a massive canyon all to yourself at sunrise.

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How the locals live in the Canyon
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Morning Walks in Divisadero
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Sunrise in the Canyon

Later than day we all headed towards the train tracks to catch the Chepe train en route to El Fuerte. This 653 km  train journey is known as one of the most beautiful in the world and it is really easy to see why.  It passes through a series of tunnels that go through the canyon where you pass loads of rivers and waterfalls. It is dolla but completely worth it. I spent most of the 6 hour train ride outside soaking up the views.

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One of the many tunnels
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Friends in the right places. No issues getting mugged on the train while hanging out with these lads
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The massive El Chepe train
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Some of the stunning views
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Views from the back of the train

We were all warned about the heat in El Fuerte but nothing could prepare you for this. It was 100% humidity and unbearable. I could barely take any photos as my camera kept steaming up. Myself and Frenchie stayed in the cheapest hotel we could find. Tim went a little more upscale. Tim not able to hack anymore tacos insisted on treating me and Frenchie to a beautiful fish dinner in an upscale restaurant. One of the kindest guys I’ve met on my trip. When Tim was my age he went backpacking for 2 years and completely understands slumming it. We opted for delicious sangria in an attempt to cool down. Poor Frenchie was staying put for a few days in El Eeurte.  I was delira to be leaving first thing in the am, Tim too. I headed to Los Mochis where my flight was leaving the following day.

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Children in El Fuerte getting ready for Independence day
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The height of what I saw in El Fuerte

Disaster struck in Los Mochis when there was a thunder-storm. The roads starting flooding and there was absolutely no ubers, taxis or buses to make the 20 km journey to the airport. The roads were steadily filling up with water. Afraid of missing my flight I tried to hitch hike. This was useless as the roads were practically empty. After about an hour I started walking and saw a police van and asked them would they bring me to the airport. I had nothing to lose and to my luck the police were bored out of their trees and were delira to help. Once again a very lucky duck making the flight by the skin of my teeth.

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At least one of us was happy about arriving at the airport!

The next stop was Puebla 2 hours away from Mexico city. They are worlds apart and I much preferred Puebla. It is stunning and is known for its culinary delights the most famous being mole. Mole typically contains a mixture of chilis (sometimes up to 7 types), nuts, seeds, tomatoes, raisins and the secret ingredient is chocolate. It contains more than 30 ingredients and it originated in Puebla. It is usually served with raw onions, toasted seasame seeds with shredded chicken in a tortilla or with rice. This with an ice cold corona is heavenly.

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Mole enchiladas

Below is Rosa. She was begging me for 10 pesos for a bottle of water. She was quite demanding and rude and wouldn’t budge until I prouced the goods. Anyway I gave her the money not wanting to deny an elderly woman water.  She emerges seconds later demanding more money saying 10 wouldn’t cover the cost. Feeling generous I gave her more and moments later she produces a bottle of liquor and a beaming smile. She instantly became super friendly and we sat down for for a few drinks together to celebrate Mexico’s independence day.

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Having none of it
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We cracked a smile (post booze)
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Happy independence day Mexico! Spent with the best. The irony of the sign behind! I think Rosa needs this number

My time in Puebla was spent mostly eating and drinking. It is renowned for its culinary delicacies so I was in my element.

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Chalupas: Traditional  tortillas in Puebla fried in tons of beef lard, spicy salsa and pork. SO HEALTHY
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Chili en Negoda: My favourite Mexican dish. Chili stuffed with meat, dried fruit and nuts. It is covered in the most sensational sweet walnut sauce and topped with pomegranate and parsley to represent the Mexican flag. SENSATIONAL

 

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