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Trains, Trucks & Pickups through the Barrancas del Cobre

Written on: Thursday July 2nd, 2009

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= UPDATED=
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Im back! In Mazatlan, after a week north and east of here travelling to Copper Canyon.
Now I'm here until the parts arrive... send me good vibes and hopefully they will be here soon.
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Ive travelled from the coast through the mountains by lots of different types of transport and not always in the relative safety of a seat. Heading north I left Mazatlan last Tuesday and was on a bus for six hours then another two hours inland to El Fuerte to take the "Daily" train to Copper Canyon, but three months ago they changed the schedule to ever other day. So two nights in a small but nice town of El Fuerte. I stayed in the only cheap place in town where I added my own scrawl to the wall covered with the scrawlings of past travellers. The owner was a lovable grandad figure, his old face always smiling and his eyes beamed contentedly.
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The next day after walking around the town I spent the rest of the hot afternoon reading and sipping a beer. That evening there was a thunderstorm and lots of rain. After the soaking Mexico gave me on the bike I decided to revel in the heavy rain, walking to the "Offo" to get another beer in only my sandals and swim-shorts. That evening I watched the lightening and was again awed by the deafening booms of the thunder, the upside to rainy season.
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Although I hadn't asked for it, I got a wake up call just to make sure I was up. Grandad knew I was off to the train. As I was leaving I was told that there are many buses and that I must ask the bus driver does he go to the train station. But as each bus approached and I began to get up from across the road Gramps wagged his finger until the right one came and he nodded giddishly and smiled. Off I went.
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The train to Copper Canyon is something special. It snakes its way through valleys and canyons and climbs and climbs into the mountains. I was at the window taking photos when I met Trevor a train nut, I mean enthusiast.. I learned lots of interesting things about trains and all of a sudden he was invited up to the engine cab, having showed the train driver his train drivers ID before the train set off. I tagged along and soon we were at the very front of the train. The very front. We were there for about an hour, going through countless tunnels and getting the greatest views. It made an enjoyable train trip unforgettable.
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Full Screen :
 
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When I arrived in Creel and checked into the hostel the organising of "tours" began. Sometimes the tours are little more than transport to a from the attraction. I wanted to go to one place more than anywhere else, Candamena canyon. In the photos Id seen it seemed to me to be the most beautiful Canyon and it has the largest waterfall in North America, 246 meters. It was three hours away by pickup going directly, and the minimum number of people for this full day tour was eight. This just wasn't going to happen. The guide then told me there was no water at the falls at the moment. Why did he say that?, cos he is a Fupping liar, thats why! He wanted to sell me the same tour that he already had people signed up for. Salespeople! A while later I was reading some info outside a different tour operator, it said: "blah blah blah.., well worth the effort, ..blah blah blah, ..don't listen to anyone when they tells you there is no water". I was set straight. I suddenly thought of course theres water, its rainy season. My new plan, No tour, just get the 630am bus to San Pedro and then wait for another bus there to Basasetchi. See the falls and canyon and maybe even make it back in the same day.
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I got the bus at 630, and when I got to the crossroads of San Pedro waited for the next bus, with my thumb out. Gilberto the trucker stopped and with the heavy cargo we made the hour and half trip to Basasetchi in just two & half hours and in all that time no bus passed us.
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FULL SCREEN :
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He left me at the main road, and two more pickups later I was at the park, though one of the guys who picked me up though Id like to hear about God a bit before he let me off. He was the kind of guy who Id Imagined had found God after leading a pretty bad life and wanted everybody else to listen to him now. He told me it´d take me too long to walk to the falls and get back to Creel and that I could sleep in the back of his truck tonight, I guess the fact that I was hitching he thought I couldn't afford a room somewhere. At 12:30 after six hours travelling I spent two hours walking around the rim of the canyon. I wanted to make it back to the main road by three as Gilberto was going back in the direction I came from. I walked out of the park in with all my luggage in the hot sun and after a few minutes I was in the back of another pickup to the main road. There I waited for another hour. Gilberto never turned up, I was starting to realise that a big problem with hitching is trying to avoid the other people standing around looking for a lift, drunkards and wierdos.
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A while later I got a lift and in stages I moved back towards where I started that morning. In total I was in seven pickups, two buses and a truck that day. The last pickup of the day was speeding through a dark night intermittently illuminated by the electric flashs of an approaching storm... Haven´t I been in this scenario before?
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Again I managed to just get back into town before the heavens opened. I only spent 135 pesos that day, the tour would have been 400, and due to lack of people it wouldn´t have gone anyway. Over twelve hours travelling for two hours in the canyon, but totally worth it.  Self-tour Success.
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The following day I went to another town, two hours away and walked about two hours down into Copper Canyon with some American folks I´d met, I would have loved more time there but you got to work with what you´ve got.
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I spent Monday morning looking down from the top of the Canyon and photographing Hummingbirds, then back on the train back to Gramps hostel. I met a Canadian looking for a cheap place in El fuerte. I knew exactly the place. Once checked in it was off for Taco´s and beer. There had been a Alcohol sales ban for the previous two days because of an election, So that beer went especially well. The next day we travelled on to Mazatlan and again I showed him where to stay and brought him to the best Taco place, Desert Storm taco´s, mmm!.. DE-LISH, I had the backed potato mashed with cheese and butter and taco meat on top ....WOW !
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Today he headed off to Mexico city and I'm about to drain the oil out of the bike and take the Lower RHS cover off and prep the bike for the arrival of the parts that Linden has kindly sent over to me. Fingers crossed the next blog shall come from the good Ol´ U. S. of A.
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Tonights entertainment, Cinema Mexicano
...Michael Mann´s Public Enemies (not dubbed) - OH YEAH!
Ive now got 3 pages of videos on youtube, should you be bored at work and want to get more bored:
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= UPDATE =
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I arrived back from the mountains on wednesday, updated the blog (yes that took up most of the day), watched Public Enemies wed night (average)
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Thursday I was back to work. I work in a garage!
I spent most of the afternoon prep-ing the bike for the arrival of parts, draining oil/changing oil filter, removing L-RHS cover and crash bars and topping up battery. 
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Friday morning there were no parts ...Grrrrrr.. I though to myself...
Id have to wait till monday for the parts, So friday I got to work taking off the tank and taking out the carbs to clean them, and "The boss" even gave me a part for the busted choke cable, it was not the BMW part but it will work. Then with a simple comment ... "Man this bolt is hard to get off", Marcelino spung into action and ended up doing most of the cleaning on the carbs as I looked on.. Well, If he is so insistent on helping, Who am I to stop him ; )
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Friday evening I called into the hotel where the parts were being delivered to and thank holy Jesus, Allah, Buddha they were there !! Today I called into the garage early, time was of the essence, they close at 2 on saturdays... but I forgot the parts, how ridiculous... They leant me a bike to go back to my hotel.. she was a beaut !!
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(can you spot the beginnings of my handlebar moustache)
Once back at "work"
I put the carbs back in, cleaned the air filer and radiator. I whipped off the magneto and sanded down the worn bits that needed sanding & whipped in the new sprag clutch..
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Then I began putting all the many...many ...many bits back on the bike ...for ages.
Once she was looking whole again and had some new oil in her I started her up... I let out a sigh of relief! Lots of pieces had been taken off and I was happy that It seemed Id put them back correctly. Next! off comes the front wheel and I tried to put the new speedo cable in but the old one was stuck, stuck real Good! In what looked to me like someone butchering the hell out of something the boss pulled at the rusted cable and after a lot of time, effort and WD40 the old cable was out and I could put the new speedo cable in. Finally the tyres were topped up, chain greased, the tank topped up with Premium. I went home, showered and returned to the garage for beers with the lads before I said goodbye. It has been a great experience working with the guys in the garage. They were more helpful and hospitable than one could imagine possible.
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The bike is more ready than ever and I am gunning to go.. to head north to sadly leave tacos behind for hotdogs....

 

From Mark P on Jul 9th, 2009

You were right, I was bored in work and went onto your YouTube pages and became even more bored...

From Mark P on Jul 9th, 2009

Must say the photographs are very impressive on the blog - well done, although now I'm bored with them, just like your videos...

From Argentina2Alaska on Jul 13th, 2009

LIVE from a U. S. of A library! ..Its Stephen Bray! Doesn't seem to ba any netcafes anymore seen as everybody in america got a free laptop from Obama.....I just deleted those bullshit comments..

From Phil on Jul 16th, 2009

Chains magneto what age is your BMW sounds stone age to me

From ste on Jul 17th, 2009

does anyone know a Phil?, Is there a phil in the house... these random comments either say alot about how many people Im meeting or how bad my memory is...

From Ed on Jul 17th, 2009

Yea, I knew Phil from way back when, he is a stand up type of guy, a real straight shooter if ya know what I mean.

From Trevor on Jul 18th, 2009

Stephen, Good job on the Blog and the story of riding up the Chepe on the front of the train. Yes....I know a Phil too, my Dad in England. I sent him the link and he read about your bike and did not realise that there are modern BMW's with chain drive... Anyway the offer to stay here in Port Orchard, (Seattle). on your way through is still there. Regards Trevor

From Pete on Jul 19th, 2009

Ste I think the one word which captures the moment of that 60cc bike and your handlebar moustace is .... SNAZZY!!!