Friday, December 29, 2006

December 29, 2006
Rained most of the night. Very soggy and cool out this morning. Went into the office about nine. Only Carole, Sue, Sylvia and Bethany in. Everyone else either off or out. We're only working half a day today.

Just completed the last page of my fourth sketchbook last night. This makes 2,829 sketches (six a day) without missing. Need to go down to Aaron Brothers at Desert Ridge this afternoon and get two more sketchbooks. Meanwhile, here's two more pages from our Mexico sojourn. The first page is a continuation from yesterday's posting, this one illustrating the deep chasms in the Barranca Del Cobre (Copper Canyon), drawn from the train window. It really is breathtaking scenery. In our 1996 trip we only went from Chihuahua to Divisidero (The Divide, or top of the canyon) and then back, so we didn't traverse the west side of the mountain, so this was all new to me.

Thomas Charles was The Designated Decider on the trip, and he looked at a map and wanted to check out a side town, Cerocahui, which is about fifteen miles south of the railroad and accessible by dirt road from the train station at Bauchivo. We got off at Bauchivo at about two in the afternoon and found out the next bus for Cerocahui was in two hours but the bus driver pointed to a loaded down F-150 pick-up and said we might hitch a ride with them. Tomas ran to the truck and the driver told us to climb in. The four of us ran and jumped in and survived a bumpy, cold ride up the mountain and down the pass, into the beautiful little valley where Cerocahui lies nestled beside a classic red-rocked, ancient Spanish Church. We tipped the driver $10 (he didn't want to take it but we insisted), then checked out the fancy, anglo run hotel (Inn By The Mission I think it was), but they wanted $250, so The Decider walked down to the plaza and found a little hotel tucked behind a small store, where Maria sold us a clean little room with two Queen sized beds for $76, which included breakfast in her dining room (the bottom two illustrations, on right, were done in that dining room. The left view is of the fireplace and the second is looking into her kitchen and the store beyond).

In the morning we hired a local vaquero, Juan, to guide us, via horseback, up to a nearby waterfall ($60 for four horses, Kathy walked and ran beside us, except for a short stretch where I let her ride my horse, on the steepest part of the trail. She quickly gave me back "my" horse). That was fun and scary (the horses traversed steep switchbacks, jumping over rocks and sliding down rocky slopes). After we checked out we waited for the bus to take us back to the Bauchivo train station. As we sat waiting on the sunny square, I sketched the store across the street from us (right, top).

The "bus" was actually a mini-Nissan van that held eight seats and we felt lucky to get the last four seats. But we were in for Mexican Economy Lesson Numero Quatro . As we barely cleared the square, the driver stopped for more passengers! Where were they going to sit? The driver got out, and started whistling as he walked around and opened up the rear baggage compartment and shoved in the bags of the newcomers, who got in and doubled up in the forward seats, with one guy lying along the door space. We drove another half mile and he stopped again. "No Way!" I thought to myself. Way. As he whistled and walked around the back, the next four people doubled up in the front area (two captain chairs now had five people sitting in them). I think we made three more stops and I stopped counting at 21 passengers. We were packed in like cord wood and by the time we arrived in Bauchivo it was Sardine City and I must say I got to know several citizens of Mexico really, really well. All the way in, I couldn't help thinking of the politically incorrect joke: "Why were there only 5,000 Mexicans at the Alamo? They only had three cars."

Next stop, Creel at 7,000 feet. Those sketches tomorrow.

"Donald Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Visit to Wife's Vagina."
—Onion Day-by-Day 2007 Calendar (gift from Deena)

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