Since we had booked an all day tour of the area, our first order of business was to find some kind of grocery store/shop and purchase some food for our lunch. Meals were not provided in the tour and we would be nowhere near any restaurants or food stands. I hate tunafish and that was all that was on offer in cans. I settled for cheese sandwiches and chips. Any port in the storm!
Creel is built in layers coming down the gentle slopes that surround it. Our first stop was to a "true" Tarahumara home. It is not uncommon for the Tarahumaras to take over a cave and make it their home. They live everywhere in the mountains so why not avail themselves of the shelter Mother Nature has provided. This home, punched into the highest slope above Creel as no exception. A family had taken over a small, dark cave as their habitat.
Inside the low ceilinged room were several beds and one table with a few homemade chairs. All cooking was done outside over an open fire. The yard was basically packed dirt with the remains of rough living strewn everywhere. No garbage pickup here. Just toss it onto a pile. Maybe. At least in that general direction. There were a couple of pigs in a makeshift corral/pen and chickens were kept in cages, not allowed to free range. The reason for this, we were told, is because the coyotes are not afraid of people and will come into the yard and eat the chickens if they are free.
I did not take any pictures of this home. I just felt like it was too much of an invasion. As we left, I realized that maybe I should not have felt that way. The man of the house was waiting at the gate and it was required to give him a tip before he would open the gate to allow you to leave. For some reason, that really pissed me off. A request for an offering I would have gladly given, but I didn't like the extortion feel of the way it was done. He got one peso put in his basket. My little protest.
Our van, consisting of the guide, the three of us, a very disgusting Mexican couple who made fun of everything they saw and a lovely Swiss girl, next pulled up to the gate marking the entrance to Indian land. Not a reservation mind you. But true Indian land that had been occupied by the Tarahumara Indians for centuries. There we were charged an additional 15 pesos each to enter.
Our first stop was to this Jesuit Mission Church. Our guide could not tell us if it was widely used, a relic of a time gone by or even if the Indians were Catholic, Protestant and heathen. I think he needed to do a bit more research before leading tours. At any rate, it was a fascinating piece of architecture standing out like a sore thumb in this desolate landscape.
The view from the church parking lot. It was a very depressing landscape. Dusty hardly fairly describes it.
Another overview of the land. These are community structures, not homes. Including the schoolhouse on the far left.
A closer look at the school shows it to be of similar construction to most rural school houses in Mexico.
This is a typical home on the land. Nothing fancy, for sure. While we were there, a little boy, maybe 8 years old, came running out of the house, waving something at us. When he got to us, he was offering handbraided friendship bracelets for sale. Five pesos each! A great bargain. B bought one but only had a ten peso coin. The sad little boy reported that he could not sell it then because he had no change. He could hardly believe his good luck when B told him to just keep the extra 5 pesos for himself! He tied the bracelet on B's arm and turned and high tailed it back to the house. His bracelets held high and peeling laughter. As I write this, that was 3 years ago. Still a strong memory and guess what? B is still wearing that bracelet! Guess it was worth all of the 10 pesos he paid.
The main tourist attraction, and the primary reason we had taken this tour, was to see the rock formations that litter the landscape here. Each one with a name. Can you guess the names?
If you guessed frog rock, you were right. This one is called balancing rock. With good reason!
What appears to be snow in this next picture is actually ground up stone dust. The local kids used pieces of cardboard as sleds and gleefully slid down again and again. Just like their Northern neighbors do in snow.
With the viewing of the rocks over, we piled back in the van and headed down the road to our next stop, Lake Arareko.