Since Palenque we have spent a lot of time on buses, travelling to the northern part of Mexico. We spent a couple of nights in Chihuahua, quite a nice city despite being pretty big. This was our gateway to the Copper Canyon, actually a series of over thirty canyons which together are bigger than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Having made our way to Areponapuchi (I never did manage to pronounce it right), we found the house of Gustavo Lozano and his family. We had been given an introduction to him by people we met in Chihuahua, and what a great introduction that was. He was happy for us to camp in his garden, took us to the rim of the canyon for some fantastic views and then, the following morning, took us to the trail head for our hike down into the canyon. This was after we had let the tent thaw out – temperatures at night here drop to zero and there was frost on the outside of our tent when we woke up!
The trail down to the bottom of the canyon was appalling – mostly covered in loose rocks, shale and scree, so every step had to be taken very cautiously. Backpacks alter your centre of gravity quite significantly and every slight loss of balance is exaggerated. We are also a lot less fit than we were, after nearly four months of odd eating and exercise patterns. So we took most of the day getting down there (3000ft), camped by the river near the bottom in a place called Los Naranjos (the orange trees) – bizarrely that's exactly what was there, regrettably with no fruit on though. We were pleased to find temperatures not so chilly at the bottom, and spent a pleasant evening cooking over an open fire and gazing at the amazing stars.
The following day we climbed back up – in many ways it was easier than going down, because of the poor quality of the trail, but again we took our time, and camped again nearer the top. Another great night of star gazing. There is no ambient light here at all – just the moon and the stars, quite beautiful.
The following morning we made our way back to Gustavo's to collect the rest of our stuff, said a grateful farewell to Gustavo and then hopped on the CheP, the Chichuaua – Pacific railway, which travels through some of the other canyons towards the coast. That was a magnificent train journey with fantastic scenery most of the way.
After an overnight stop in El Fuerte, another bus ride took us to Los Mochis and then one more to Topolobampo for the overnight ferry to La Paz in southern Baja California. La Paz is a fairly laid back, sunny coastal town, quite americanised in many ways (not least the Kentucky Fried Chicken, the AppleBees and the Burger King!). From here we will make our way north up through Baja to find those whales!!