He said, “We have two seasons: hot and dry, and hot and humid. The rainy season is June
It's a lonely road from Creel to Batopilas, a 5800-foot descent from Creel to the bottom of
Copper Canyon, three times the size of the Grand Canyon. It is home to 60,000 Tarahu-
mara (Raramuri people) and a trip back in time to the 19th century where treasure in gold
and silver was gouged from Mother Earth. The few trucks and worn-out cars on the road
were filled with passengers. A hitchhiker would rarely find a lift.
The paved road from Creel to the junction was 75 km (47 miles). Then the bus turned west
onto a dirt road for 65 km (37 miles) to Batopilas. Travel time was five hours. If the entire
road were paved and flat, I could bike the route in less time.
At the junction, our driver shifted into low and ground the gears. We were in a pine forest
following a ridge. The road was cliffhanger narrow, made of twists and mountain switch-
backs. Then a canyon, one of seven, came into view. Majestic cliffs rose like guardi-
ans painted in multicolored red, white, brown layers and streaked with green. Here was
nature's chronology of time. Sedimentary stone, slate, rockslides, volcanic lava flows,
white tufa and igneous rock were present.
I didn't notice the bus swerve, but our driver did. He stopped and checked the tires. He
got down and on his belly crawled under the rear axle, poked a tire with a wrench handle
and said, “The inside tire is flat.” He squiggled back out from under the bus, dusty as if
a baker had powdered him. He set the brake, placed a rock under the front tire and went
to release the spare tire that looked like a donut hanging under the bus. He loosened the
lug nuts then jacked up the bus. The change was quick, and it gave us a moment to see the
canyon, stretch and talk.
Back on the bus, we passed by old mines, peered down at the river and crossed an iron
trestle bridge that was supported by mammoth stone piers. We were coming into Batopilas.
As we crossed the bridge we could see cows along the riverbank and Tarahumara women
washing their clothes in the river.
Batopilas was a linear town forced to stretch two miles along the river because steep
canyon walls hemmed it in. We drove down the narrow road toward the center. We en-
countered a truck that backed up and pulled over to let us pass. A minor increase in the
number of vehicles would be a major problem for Batopilas.