May 3, 2021
It was another quiet and warm night and both of us had a good night sleep. We left Rancho Lorenzo at 9:00 am with the plan to take the scenic route to Creel. We could of taken the main highway and it would be a 4 hour drive, but we decided to explore a new route that would take us over the mountain and across the canyon to Creel. This route would take 2 days, but we would see the small towns and villages in the canyon.
The drive was another winding drive up and down the mountain peaks, climbing as high as 8800’ in elevation. We passed through many small villages and the scenery was beautiful. Just before noon we arrived at Uruachi, about 35 miles from camp. As we pulled into town, the local police stopped us to discuss why we were in town. We think that someone in a previous town had called ahead to let them know we were coming.
The police officer was very nice and welcomed us to town, but recommended that we not continue on our trip to Creel. He would not stop us, but suggested for our safety we go back to the main highway for our trip to Creel. He said the area we were headed to contained two competing cartels. There was a risk that we could be mistaken for cartel members, given the rigs that we were driving. He also suggested that we be in town and avoid driving at night.
We continued into town and found the only open restaurant for lunch. At the restaurant Tino talked to the ladies and their recommendation mirrored the police officer’s. During lunch we decided to follow the local’s advice and go back to the main highway for our trip to Creel.
As we left town there were two armed cartel members ensuring that we left town. We waved as we drove by and they waved back. We don’t think that they want to harm us, but there is a risk of mistaken identity, especially at night.
We drove back to the main highway and continued towards Creel. It was another beautiful drive through the forests and mountains and we stopped several times for the beautiful views. We arrived in Creel around 4:30 pm and camped at the old KOA campground. It was empty and we were the only ones camped for the night.
May 4, 2021
Today was mostly an off day as we explored Creel and sat on the shady hotel porch, where some of the group was staying. We did take a short trip to the Tarahumara village of Cusarare. We visited the mission and bought a few baskets from the locals.
Eva was like the Pied Piper as she gave some fruit snacks to a few children, then more showed up and followed her back to the van for more snacks.
We also made a stop at an artisian shop near Lake Arareko and bought a few items. The craftsmanship of the baskets look very nice and it’s hard not to buy something from them since tourism has been down for the last year and they really need the money.
On the way back to Creel we took a side trip to the Valley of the Monks. This is a Tarahumara village that is built among various rock formations. It appears the community is trying to make some money by charging $40 pesos/person ($2.13 USD) to drive through the area. There were some beautiful rock formations, but it was sobering to see how poor the people were and how they lived.
It must have been wash day as we saw several groups at the river washing clothes. The river was mostly dry, so they had to dig a hole in a moist area of the riverbed and wait for the water to fill the hole. This water was then used with a rock to clean the clothes. The clothes were then hung on the barbwire fence to dry.