Society for the History of Discoveries

Mexico Post-Trip

For Post-meeting trip photos, please click here.

Jan Holzheimer, a travel agent and the wife of Art Holzheimer, outgoing member of the SHD Council, arranged a post-symposium tour to the Copper Canyon. Over a dozen SHD members and spouses were among the participants. Mexico’s Copper Canyon is a rugged mountainous area of over 25,000 square miles with several canyons exceeding a depth of 5700 feet (in comparison, the Grand Canyon has a depth of 4674 feet and covers an area ¼ the size of the Copper Canyon). Living in the remote recesses of the Copper Canyon are approximately 50,000 Tarahumara Indians, and a slightly larger population of Mestizos or mix-blooded individuals. Tourist traffic into the region was not possible until 1961 when, after 90 years of construction, the Chihuahua al Pacifico [Chihuahua to the Pacific] Railroad was completed.

We flew from Guadalajara to Los Mochis for an overnight stay, and boarded the train the next morning. Almost immediately, the train began climbing from an elevation of 100 feet to one of 6000 feet. Along the way, we saw beautiful mountain peaks, valleys, and canyons. We started out in a region of Desert-Thorn Forest, passed through Chaparral growth, and then into a mixed Evergreen Forest. A four-hour train ride and a 30-minute bumpy bus ride on a rugged mountainous one-lane dirt road brought us to the village of Cerocahui with its 600 inhabitants. Electricity reached this town only seven months prior to our visit; and at night, through open home windows and doors, we could see the occupants huddled around a television set. Telephone wires were in the process of being strung throughout the town, and there was only one operating telephone in the town at the time of our visit (available for use between 9 AM and 4 PM). It was interesting to contemplate how the lives of the inhabitants of Cerocahui will change between 2002 and 2003 with the arrival of electricity and telephone. Will there soon be an internet café adjacent to the town square? We took several hikes and a bus trip during our two-day stay in Cerocahui, and explored the waterfalls and gorges of the Copper Canyon. We also visited a 1556 mission church and a church boarding school for girls of elementary age.

We returned to the railroad for a one-hour ride further east along the canyon to the small village of Posada Barrancas. Our hotel was built on the rim of the canyon with the rooms facing east towards the canyon. We awoke in the morning seeing from our beds the sun rising over the canyon wall. Again, we had an opportunity to explore the canyon from different vistas, and encountered numerous Tarahumara Indians. Leaving the Copper Canyon after lunch, we boarded the train and returned to Los Mochis and our hotel. The next morning, with fond memories, numerous pictures in our cameras and Indian handicrafts in our bags, we boarded airplanes back to the United States.

-- Summary by John Docktor

For Post-meeting trip photos, please click here.

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