Sunday, 10 August 2003

Last Day In Creel

My days in Creel are now pretty much at an end, and I'm now just killing time till my bus departs. Yesterday was very much a day of rest, and a much needed one at that. Exercised my gob instead and had a good waffle to anyone who would listen, which can be done sitting down. So I was happy with that! Creel has been one of the nicest stays of Mexico so far, and that often has as much to do with who you meet as to where you are. Another bunch of friends made.....and then promptly left never to be seen again. Ce la vie.

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Friday, 8 August 2003

Copper Canyon

I am just the most tired soul in the Northern Hemisphere I can tell you! I have just spent two days tramping up and down huge canyons all over the place, sometimes on foot, sometimes on bike, and regularly on arse....there are some steep and sandy bits which can get you if you're not looking! The first full day in Creel was spent on a tour to a waterfall which I later found out was the highest fall in North America, several metres more than Niagara. Three hours in a van to get there, three hours climbing up and down, and then the same return bus trip.

Bloody knackering it was! But todays efforts made that seem like a piece of cake. I got it into my head that there was no need to join the Hostel tour to the hot springs. Why drive when you can go by mountain bike. Other than to avoid a seriously painful ordeal of cycling, walking and a bit of climbing for at least 50kms. I know 50kms sounds quite far but not exactly life threatening, but I can assure you that when you throw in stone covered trails, a few of the worlds largest canyons and a water supply that was exhausted less than half way into the jaunt (I know its hot over in the UK, but rest assured its burningly so here too!), then you have the perfect recipe for a really seriously hard days work! On the plus side, the scenery has been absolutely spectacular! And of course, there will be the traditional photo showings at some stage!
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Wednesday, 6 August 2003

El Tren

I just had a day from hell! I didn't get any sleep last night, having chosen Hotel 'Cockroach Infested and 100 degrees F' Hidalgo as my resting spot. Satisfying as it is to crunch a dozen foot long (well, maybe thats a little exaggerated, but they were darned big anyway!) roachs, it doesn't do much for one's sleep prospects I can tell you. And I know you are having a heatwave in Blighty but last night's temperatures here were just silly. My sheets felt like they had just come out of a tumble dryer after 2 hours on full blast, and I physically couldn't stand on the tiled floor for more than a few moments without burning me toes! And this was at 3am....not funny at all!

Still, I managed to drag my weary corpse down the train station and had my 7 hour train ride through the Copper Canyon, which turned out to be 13 hours long! Still the train seats were comfy, leg room plentiful, and there was a whole carriage set apart as a cafe. You could also go stick your head out of the windows in the end sections where the carriages join together and have a smoke. So that kept me happy! And of course, there was the scenery! Which was fantastic!

The immensity of the canyon is hard to put into words, so I won't bother. You'll have to ask to see the photos if you are interested. If not, rest assured the canyon is big x the power of 2000! Anyway, have found me a cheery little hostel, and have booked my first couple of hiking excursions through the canyon, to see waterfalls, hot springs and the like. See ya later!

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Tuesday, 5 August 2003

Still In San Blas

Well it had to come to an end at some stage, sadly. I have finally dragged myself away from the lazy life of San Blas, two days later than originally planned. It really would have been easy to stay another week or twenty. My only regret was arriving a day too late to see the Miss Gay Universe parade....a fine spectacle I'm sure, although I still can't quite see how that show arrived in sleepy San Blas! Oh well, I had a jolly good time anyway, and made a few more friends who have now been left behind.

Although the two English girls left the day before me on their way to Creel, which is also my next stop. I may catch them up yet. Creel is roughly at the half way point of the Copper Canyon train line, where I will spend a few days taking in the enormity of the ravines. It may not be as famous as the US's Grand Canyon, but it is four times the size, deeper, has a greater diversity in scenery (mile upon mile of evergreen forest) and has local indiginous tribe type people to boot. I just hope they are a little more authentic than the lot I bumped into during my excrutiating horse ride in San Cristobal. I'll let you know....
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Saturday, 2 August 2003

Crocodile Attack!

Would any holiday be really complete without a tall tale of death and danger to tell? Last time was 'Snakebite in Sri Lanka', but this one is far meatier! I went on a boat trip up a river through the jungle yesterday with a couple of American guys and two English girls to see the wildlife and visit a freshwater spring for a swim. It was one of the highlights of my holiday so far, and at times the scenery was like something from an Indiana Jones movie, with the jungle canopy closing over the river, insects and other animals performing their orchestral duties and murky shapes moving just beneath the surface of the brown water.

There were no visible river banks, just metres of mangrove roots instead, providing the crocs with their hiding places. As far as wildlife goes there were sleeping owls, herons, birds of other names either unknown to me or just unpronouncable, a few little crocodiles, catfish, and countless river turtles. Our first stop was the crocodile farm to have a peek at some big old residents safely behind bars. It was pretty cool, but we only stayed fifteen minutes before heading off again to the spring itself. It took about an hour to get there, perhaps a little longer, but was well worth it. The water had become a lot clearer and there were now turtles everywhere. Mostly posing for photos it seemed....I was half expecting one to hold out a hat to demand "una peso!". Anyway, we had lunch at the restaurant, and then everyone went off to swim while I finished my cigarette. There is a swing attached to a tree branch on one side of the spring, which most people use to grab hold of and leap into the water, and then swim to the other side of the spring where there are some concrete steps to climb out. I put out my cig, grabbed hold of the swing and took my leap of faith. The water was cool which was nice (another very hot day surprisingly enough!), but what wasnt so nice was the shouting from the other side of the spring, most of which I couldnt hear or understand, except for the word 'crocodile'.

I thought they were taking the piss, but it did suddenly occur to me I was the only person now in the water when it had been full of people just a moment ago. And they were all looking either at me, or just behind me. Thought Id have a peek over my shoulder, and would you Adam and Eve there was. A bloody great crocodile a good 10 feet long not more than 15 metres away and closing! Im not a particularly quick swimmer, but I suspect Duncan Goodhew would have been a bit proud of the time I set in getting to the steps and out.

And fear not, first thing I did was grab my camera and photograph the monster, and the can all look forward to a digitally enhanced reconstruction of the entire event a some stage! I should end the story there really, while it still sounds dramatic but i guess I should mention that this crocodile has been residing in the stretch of river around the mouth of the spring since it was a baby, and comes up at least once a day for a big hunk of meat from the restaurants. I don't think you can call any crocodile tame as such, but this one apparantly hasnt eaten anyone for ages (!), and settles for the meat it is given each day instead. Still, no one went swimming till it went away again.....I suppose whilst there is the unwritten agreement between the croc and the locals regarding its feeding, no one is entirely sure how much of the small print the croc understands.

Anyways, the rest of the day (and this goes for the rest of today....and tomorrow...and the day after etc!) was pretty much taken up with more swimming in the sea (the waves are pretty cool here...get hit by one breaking on top of you, and you will somersault underwater a half dozen times. I now know what it feels like to be in a washing machine!), more gluttony, and more sleeping and lazy stuff. I could easily stay here for a year!

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