If you’re taking the El Chepe train and you don’t bother to get off and explore areas along the way then the Divisadero station is your only chance to look down (way down) into a major part of the Copper Canyon system.
Gorditas and gorgeous views in the Copper Canyon
The Copper Canyon train stops at the Divisadero station for 15 minutes which is just long enough for passengers to enjoy the view from a vantage point right across the street from the station.
It’s also long enough to grab some of the best gorditas (lightly fried thick corn cakes stuffed with combinations of meat, cheese, beans, and vegetables) in Mexico along with your gorgeous views.
We grabbed some gorditas and headed into the neighboring town of Areponápuchi for more canyon exploration. Areponápuchi is a funny place. On the one hand it feels like a small town. Skinny dogs hang out in front of the tiny tienda. Dented trucks kick up dust even on the pavement. Laundry is hung out to dry on every available surface.
Off the beaten path in the Oteviachi Canyon
The next day we met up with Gustavo Lozano, a rare combination of expertise, passion, humor, and an excellent grasp on English. Oh, and he doesn’t conduct his tours in an obnoxious Hummer like they do from the Hotel Mirador.
Gus took us and our companion, Dave Hensleigh from Authentic Copper Canyon (who gets more and more excited as our expedition gets further and further off the beaten path), on a day trip out to a section of the Copper Canyon, just off the Urique Canyon, that few visitors ever see.
It happened like this. The previous morning at dinner Gus showed up and asked if we’d ever been to the Oteviachi Canyon which is one of the six canyons in the Copper Canyon system. We all shook our heads and said nope. He said he’d pick us up at nine am the next morning.
None of us, except Gus, really knew where we were headed and that was just fine. We drove through San Rafael but quickly turned off the pavement onto a dirt road that lead to a Tarahumara village called San Alonso. Gus had business here. Namely an SUV full of donated books, toothbrushes, and athletic equipment for the school children.
San Alonso was the last village we saw. From there the terrain became pristine, just trees (including 18 kinds of oak according to Gus), canyons, circling buzzards, wacky rock formations, and the odd, faint footpath to mark the passing of human feet.
There is a road, of sorts, through this area and that’s because a spectacular lodge was built out here. It’s called the Hostal Oteviachi and Gus used to manage it. These days it’s mostly empty and that’s a real shame since the place has a spectacular location that rivals the Hotel Mirador right on the canyon’s edge.