I negotiated a decent discount on a room at a small family owned hostel. Tourism has suffered immensly here. The once thriving and growing tourism industry has taken a rather bad turn possibly due to the drug cartel wars that have plagued Mexico in recent years and the perceived security problems in the area. It is true that tourists have not been targeted but the negative press may have caused tourist numbers to decline. It is a shame. Both for the employment of locals and for the tourists who would love to see such a stunning wonder that is Copper Canyon.
A few adventurous souls still come here, like me, but not as many as there should be. Restaurants are empty, hotels are empty, tours are empty. All rather sad really. It is true that I am here at the very start of the tourist season but locals are a little concerned. According to official Mexican tourist statistics the number of tourists in Mexico in recent years continue to break records, possibly not in Copper Canyon.
First thing I do after getting my room is head to the local store I have a craving that needs satisfying. Breakfast cereal, I need breakfast cereal. I consume two large boxes of Fruit Loops and Special K along with three litres of milk. Craving satisfied and hopefully a bit of body fat will return. Also found a litre bottle of Tequila for 20 pesos ($US1.25) so I decided to give it a try.
My room is rather large so I have a gear explosion in the room and question the need for everything I have. I have a wood fired stove in the room to keep warm and use to cook with if I choose, and I choose. I’ve been slowly lightening my load.
The hills of recent days have motivated me to shed more weight from my kit. Bearing in mind that I live on my bicycle, it is all I own. Some things are luxuries that can be shed, others are not negotiable. I manage to shed some of my spares and some other gear. I contemplate dumping my heavy bike lock in favour of a small padlock but just can’t bring myself to do it just yet.
My days have also seen me repairing and cleaning gear. My clothes have not seen a washing machine since San Diego, normally I wash them while having a shower. I was made busy sewing. There were holes in my fly screen mesh on my tent, holes in my clothing and damaged water bottle holders that I tended to with a needle and thread. I learned that I really can’t sew very well and should probably learn.
In total I have shed about 3kg of weight off my gear, I could shed more but this is all I own. The base weight of my bicycle and gear (minus food and water) is about 35-40 kg. I’d love to find some scales to weight everything. My love for hiking requires me to carry my backpack so I can’t get rid of that. The rest of my hiking gear is used as my camping gear while adventure cycling.
I love Mexican food. I also admit to knowing little about it. I am learning about the food a little more everyday. My favorite breakfast, without doubt is ‘Heuvos Rancheros‘. How it is made varies, depending on the cook, but essentially it is two soft cooked eggs placed on two tortilla (sometimes soft, sometime fried) and covered with a not too spicy but very flavorsome tomato and chili based sauce with a side serving of refried beans. I can’t get enough of them.
I explored little of the town. Most of the exploring involved walking between stores looking for what I need. Rarely am I able to go to one grocery store and buy all that I need. It usually involves visiting one store, buying what I can, visiting the next and then the next until I have all that I need. Sometimes I need to ask if they have items or what other store in town might have them. An example is buying Alcohol for my stove.
The best stuff to get is in Mexico is locally called ‘Alcohol Industrial‘ which can be purchased at a hardware store or ‘Ferretería‘ but very few of them carry it, maybe one 1 of every 20 that I visit.
The second best alcohol for my stove is ‘Alcohol Pura‘ which is sold in a ‘Farmacía‘. It works great also. The last option is rubbing alcohol sold in most stores and ‘Farmacías‘.
It is crap, hard to light but gets the job done. I even tried to burn the cheap tequila that I bought but it didn’t burn! I have tended to stock up when I find the good stuff. I found ‘Alcohol Pura‘ in a ‘farmacía‘ on the main street in town after visiting every hardware store in town. The chores involved in traveling.
I also spent many hours studying Spanish and many more hours talking with the owner of the hotel. Slowly my vocabulary in increasing but it’s far from what I would like. So I’ll dedicate an hour a day to study into the foreseeable future. In several months I should be at a decent level.
The recent days of laziness have completely recharged me. The struggles to get here are a thing of the past and I realise that my frustration at visiting the area was just that ‘my frustration’. I suspect that many days of high energy use and little food intake led not only to quick and dramatic weight loss but to a somewhat negative outlook on the area I was visiting.
When I first arrived in Creel all I wanted to do was eat, sleep, rest and get the hell out of here, as far away as possible. Time has changed my view. I want more. I want to head back into the strange canyon country to explore more back roads, more small villages and maybe get off the bike and do some hiking.
Traveling alone allows me to set my own agenda and my own time frame. So back to the canyon I shall go, renewed and refreshed.