May 7, 2021
Today we drove to Batopilas, a small town at the bottom of Copper Canyon. It was 140 km, or about 88 miles, but it took almost 5 hours to make the drive. We drove through many small Tarahumara villages. These villages had a mixture of old and new. We saw farmers using a horse or mule to plow their fields. There were also women filling buckets of water and carrying it on their head up the hill to their home. However, there were some dwellings with nice vehicles parked out front, and many homes had satellite dishes on the roofs.
We were able to see cave dwellings, high on the cliffs, that are still used during the summer months by the Tarahumara people. We stopped at a small tiende (store), situated high on a cliff overlooking the river valley. We stopped for a view of the valley, but a young girl, maybe 12-13 years old, scrambled up and opened the store. It appeared that she lived at the store by herself. She had a small garden and an outhouse perched on the edge of the cliff that overlooked the switchbacks below. We bought a couple of baskets and snacks from her and Eva gave her a couple of fruit snacks.
I had seen pictures of the road that descend from the top of the mountain to the river just outside of Batopilas, and was looking forward to the drive. The road was paved, but it has over 100 switchbacks to get you down the steep mountain. It was a beautiful drive that took us from over 6000’ to 3000’ in just a few miles. The views of the surrounding mountains were beautiful, but you had to keep your eyes on the road as you twisted your way down the steep cliff.
The drive into Batopilas was more challenging than the switchbacks. The roads are small and narrow, and driving a large van kept me looking in the mirrors and stretching my neck to make sure we didn’t hit anything. While coming down the switch backs, a man stopped us and told us about his restaurant in town. He was glad to see tourist and it sounded like a good place to eat. The biggest problem was finding a place to park. We circled through the small streets. Everyone else found a place to park, but with our big van, we finally ended up parking under a bridge, in the dry wash that ran through town. It was close to the restaurant, so we just had to climb our of the wash and walk down the road. Restaurant Carolina was just part of Carolina’s home, but the food was very good.
After eating we continued down the dirt road next to the river to Satevo. This was a small town of 500, but was the home to the “Lost Mission”, a catholic church built in the 1600’s. As we parked a man came up with the key and for a small fee, allowed us to enter the church for pictures. It is still an active church, even with the cows that wandered through the grounds.
While in Satevo, we met a young lady that Frenchie has know for over 20 years. He met her when she was about 6 years old. She has epilepsy, and he has been able to help her with her medication and even gave her father a ride to get more medication a few years ago. We all donated a little money and she was very grateful. She rode with us in the van to see a potential camping spot and Eva was able to talk to her for a while.
We decided to camp along the river in Batopilas. There was a nice flat sandy spot at the edge of town where the kids were swimming in the river. We all set up and enjoyed the evening. It had become very hot when we descended into the canyon, about 95 degrees, but as the sun went down, it cooled to 85 degrees.
This was the hottest night we have ever spent in the van. We opened all the windows and used the fan to blow on us throughout the night. By morning it had cooled to about 70 degrees. It was also the noisiest night we have had. All night long there were noisy cars, music, frogs, roosters, dogs, people yelling and other noises we could not identify. But once it cooled down, I was able to get some sleep.