Today we are in Batopilas on a Sunday morning. We woke up at 0530 a.m. to go on a hike to a nearby silver mine before the day got too hot. Today will be a See, Touch, Smell, Taste day. All senses will be on overdrive.
The hike started up an arroyo canyon towards the hillside behind Batopilas. Humberto guided us. Along the way he pointed to trees and shrubs that served his people, the Tarahumara. While he shared the story of their uses I translated to the others.
We continue making conversation about anything and everything, nothing is off limits. At one time he shares with me that he is married and 52 years old. In 1989 he was nearly killed in a flood. He lost half his family and the only home their family ever knew. The community helped the family recover. Five of his siblings disappeared that day, never to be seen again. Humberto was instrumental in working as a contractor, guided by Martin, to rebuild, over a period of three years the historic nearby hotel.
Our trail now zig zags up a hillside as it gets rockier and also steeper. We are hiking at a Tarahumara pace and some are now winded. Humberto uses a hooked machete to clear the path of some thorny bushes. We stop for pictures, we see the same donkey twice and generally continue to take in the amazing scenery.
We are on a Tarahumara trail to the mine entrance. By hand and by chisel plus some explosives the Tarahumara workers burrowed their way into this mountain. Miles and miles of tunnels. PThey were after the gold and silver veins containing in these mountains.
We finally come upon a crumbling wall and then a cave opening. This is a silver and gold mine that also contains copper and lead. The tunnels are immense and there’s so many opportunities to lose your life that I totally lost count in my head. If at anytime something would’ve happened to Humberto the rest of our party of five would not be coming out. We made that many turns. Also if our lights from a headlamp and iPhones would’ve failed then we would also be screwed. There’s complete drop offs and narrow paths to maneuver through and around. We walked around three miles in the tunnels before exiting.
Mike walked by and commented that I looked like a guy totally content with life. He couldn’t have said it better. Here’s the secret. Beautiful surroundings and exercise from a great hike with guys I’m riding with, plus flavorful Mexican cuisine and a short nap. I make every effort to be totally awareness of the conscious state of my mind.
I sit on a well made authentic leather double chair, a few steps away from a Mexican courtyard. The traditional fountain, the greenery, loud orange, yellow and green colors are calming to me. Every sound is perfectly received. I can decipher a donkey baying, a rooster crowing to yet another rooster, who responds from a distance. as Mexican music rounds out the medley of sounds from where I know not. This is a magical place in more ways than you might guess. Outside the hotel wall is a circular five ring painting that signifies the Pueblo Magico spirit.
The Gastronomica (cuisine) is equally as important as the Artesanias (Artisisans) the Culture and the Traditional, combined with the People and the Environment. This is what the religious would refer to as God’s county. Now take three deep breaths and relax. Let the words sink in.
The cell call from Ray came just as our seated ride group of eleven started to enjoy their evening dinner meal, at nearby Carolinas Restaurant. Earlier I purchased from Martin a bottle of locally made tequila and rounds of shots, guacamole and chips went all around.
Roberto now answered Ray’s call and put him on speaker phone.
Ray is our one missing rider from around the second day of our riding Mexican toughest roads. Today is day seven of our two week ride adventure and most of us, me included had given Ray up as lost.
Ray’s shock blew, earlier on, on his 1990, BMW Dakar to Paris badged motorcycle. He had no choice but, to return to Phoenix, a distance of over 600 miles to get the bikes single rear shock fixed.
Ray was now asking Yoda Roberto in a mind meld sort of way to transfer his infinite knowledge of riding across the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua to him. It cannot be done we all said. Yoda Robertos mind is just too expansive and intermixed with Mexican Spanish.
Should I now make the return trip to catch up to you guys in one or two days, asked Ray? He’s still coming? Everyone now asked? You know that song, Counting Stars, by OneRepublic? “Everything that kills me, makes me feel alive “.
I now ask you; is Ray now on an endless roller coaster, bounced about by twists and turns of life or is he just being dragged downstream kicking and screaming?
All bets initially were against Ray returning to the ride. Some are now even betting against him that he won’t arrive to make the ferry at Topolobambo. Others are not now sure! There’s a saying in Spanish that goes like this;
“Hombres De Poca Fe“ Ray is of that caliber of men who cannot be deterred. He will succeed said Yoda Roberto.
You and I started this ride across the Tecate border a week ago. My ride stories have been daily. Today we are in Batopilas; literally the bottom of a canyon where the Tarahumara live all around the area.
The name of this ride is the Copper Canyon ride and poor old Ray from Nuevo Jersey USA unfortunately won’t get a chance to see or ride any of it.
Perhaps he’ll get a chance to find his groove and be in the zone on the nearly 1,000 miles ride down; when the ride becomes both therapeutic and relaxing. I say that because the act of riding gives me an opportunity to use the left side of my brain. It always needs something to do. This way the right side of my brain can do something else like, I don’t know; daydream about the next ride, my dog and spouse back home or even the next motorcycle.
Today we went on a local mine tour with Humberto. Humberto is built like a bull. He wears a cowboy hat and tire sandals for shoes. You will never see him without a bowie type knife on his right belt hip. Today he also carried a machete when leading us up a mountain to a mine entrance. What we did today is too dangerous for most people but, not a problem for experienced motorcycle riders. Today was in essence what separates the men from the boys on a red route.
At the end we tipped Humberto well. Some like Larry from Alberta went to mass, others like Todd and Dal caught up on much needed sleep. Still others like Paul and Frank just needed even more riding time to stay connected to their motorcycles that got them here.
This is the kind of day that you cannot easily repeat or easily put together. It just happened. The rest of us paid our dues and now all qualify as “Hombres De Poca Fe”………Oh you of little faith.