Where on Earth? Week 45 – Batopilas, Mexico

You were close, so close. It’s in mainland Mexico, not Baja.

I took this picture just before New Year’s 2004 near Batopilas, which is a little tiny village at the very bottom of the Copper Canyon. It is one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited, following possibly the scariest bus ride of my life: 7 hours down dirt road switchbacks. The driver had an annoying habit of taking his hands off the wheel and praying every time he saw a shrine for those “departed down the cliff.”

The church is the Satevo mission built four centuries ago with a mysterious past.

Photo of the Day (11/27/06)

Christmas time at an abandoned church in a ghost town at the bottom of Copper Canyon, Mexico, a hike away from Batopilas (a five-hour bus ride down from the Copper Canyon train stop at Creel).

Across Mexico via Train

One of the most scenic train rides I have ever taken is the Chihuahua al Pacifico (or ChePe). We boarded the train in the coastal town of Los Mochis in the morning and traveled eastbound toward Chihuahua, stopping in Creel in order to explore the Copper Canyon area. The train ride takes around 10 hours, depending on how many stops (and breakdowns) you’ll encounter along the way.

And the entire time, the one thing you can’t get out of your mind while watching the Sierra Madre pass by is: “Badges? We ain’t got no stinking badges!”

It is best to travel from west to east because you see the best views during daytime. The scenery is stunning. From the low coastal areas, the train makes its way to the elevation of some 8000 feet. Make sure to pack appropriately. We went in December: it was steaming hot on the coast and below freezing in Creel. Needless to say, we were not prepared. Fortunately, as we descended into the Copper Canyon town of Batopilas, inhabited by the Tarahumara Indians, it was nice and warm again.