Thursday, December 18, 2008

A trip to Copala

Yesterday we took the van and drove up into the Sierra Madre mountains to visit Copala, a little silver mining town at around 2500 feet above sea level that is over 400 years old. It’s very small but picturesque with a lovely central square and an ancient church.

Although it’s 65 km from Mazatlan it’s on the itinerary for the tour bus crowd from the cruise ships. We arrived at around 11:00 just as the big bus was pulling in. We’re not too sure how the bus managed to negotiate the twists and turns to get there, but we assume that the bus drivers are more experienced than we are at driving those narrow shoulderless roads. At the turnoff to Copala the road became cobblestone and very narrow. We weren’t even sure it was a road as it wound up into the hills past an old cemetery and through a creek. But sure enough, it ended in the little village square and we parked beside a huge bus that was unloading a couple of dozen tourists.

The very moment we opened our car door we were besieged by kids selling what looked like brown husks, but they turned out to be very sweet little wood carvings of the village.
Jan bought one for three dollars and here’s a photo of it.

The town itself is very lovely and the church is beautiful.
We went for lunch at a place that was built in the 1950s by an American named Daniel, who saw the potential for this town to attract tourists. He built a huge restaurant with the help of teenagers in the town, who are still working there as waiters and cooks. The restaurant serves very good food and an amazing version of banana cream coconut pie. Delicious. Here’s Jan and me enjoying our lunch.

After a walk around we met a fellow named Myron, who has retired to Copala with his wife and helps to raise money for children to get school uniforms. He was a university professor and they live in a lovely house built along a wall that is over 300 years old. Harry and he chatted for over an hour while Jan and I looked at the leather masks created by an Italian artist. Then Myron showed us his gorgeous house with its authentic Mexican kitchen, its lovely patio with a fireplace and its view over the hills. Very beautiful. We saw that these two have a pleasant life in a beautiful town but wonder how they manage without more than a couple of other English speaking friends. Myron seemed in fact to be quite a lonely fellow. It took a while before we were able to take our leave. It’s fascinating to see how different people from Canada and the US are creating lives for themselves in Mexico.

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