500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Spot the dog!

One of the local dogs has taken a liking to us, and so when we went for a 4 hour hike into the canyon yesterday, we had some company. We nicknamed him Spot, because of the large black spot he has on the left side his back. Spot was a great hiking companion.

We do sometimes miss having a dog with us, but we're still quite happy to enjoy other people's dogs for the time being.

We set off just after 11:00am. Ruth packed lunch, and a couple of bottles of water, and off we went.

Some would say that the people living here are poor!

Ruth and Spot, looking up at a very expensive hotel!

The trail leads fairly close to a couple of the houses of the Tarahumara Indians who live in the canyon. We saw one girl who was making a basket like the ones they sell to the tourists and we asked if we could look. We sat and had a little conversation with her. She was 14 years old, and she began learning how to make these baskets when she 8 years old. Now, with lots of practice, she can make a small basket in two hours.

She said it was okay to take her picture, but she wouldn't look at the camera! She was a bit shy.

How do you turn all of this...

...into something like this?! Amazing! Cost of this basket was 30 pesos ($2.40).

As with the Grand Canyon in the United States, less than 1% of people who view the canyon actually make the effort to go below the rim. We hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon back in 2006, and while it was spectacular I think the Copper Canyon is more interesting because of the Tarahumara Indians who still live in the canyon. Getting below the rim gives you some insight into their lifestyle. Even though they would be considered "poor" by most western standards, they don't seem poor to me. Simply a different culture, and they have been living this way for hundreds of years. Something like when we visited the Himba people in Namibia and learned that they consider themselves to be "the richest people in Africa"!

Ruth and Spot, hiking into the canyon.

Spot the dog!

Ruth, on the trail into the canyon.

An hour and a half into the hike, what do we come across but a little schoolhouse. In the middle of nowhere. There's obviously a story here, because it's fairly new but it's not in use. When we got back, we asked the guy we're staying with about this. He didn't seem to know for sure, but he said they use the schoolhouse on top of the hill. Personally, I think that somebody in the government had a grand plan thinking about how they would educate the Tarahumara, but they never asked the Tarahumara what they thought about this plan, and the school simply didn't have any (or enough) attendance. Like I said before, you can't change a culture with money.

Little white elephant schoolhouse.

The interior, taken through one of the broken windows.

We are headed down towards that little settlement.

Ruth, and Spot the dog.

A typical house in the canyon. Notice the solar panel! I expect this (along with a battery) is used to power lights in the evening. And maybe to recharge any electronics. Yes, there is a pretty good cell signal in this part of the canyon!

Kevin, with Spot the dog. 

The pic above is as far as we went. You can hike right to the bottom of the canyon, but we've been told it's a four hour hike down and a six hour hike back up, so unless you're in spectacular shape you need to bring overnight equipment and food. Yes, we will do this next time we're here...and you can count on the fact that we'll be back to explore some more. It is simply gorgeous! Can't believe how few people do this. The only people we met on the entire hike were the Tarahumara Indians who live in the canyon.

Ruth, and Spot the dog, looking back at where we had been.

Today, we're driving back to Creel (55 kms) for one night, and then tomorrow we're heading a little further northwest (126 kms) to Basaseachic Falls National Park.



28 comments:

  1. Wow, how cool was your day. What language did they speak there? In the first picture is that power lines I see? Loved those little baskets!

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    1. The Tarahumara or the Rarámuri (their native name) speak a Mexican indigenous language of the Uto-Aztecan language but some can speak and/or understand Spanish. We were able to converse with this girl in Spanish.

      No those are not hydro lines that you see they are a set of zip lines form the 7 zip lines and 3 suspension bridges adventure course that can be done at the canyon. If you notice in the same picture the little house actually has a solar panel attached to it. Looks like most of the houses that we saw below the rim all have solar power.

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  2. Those baskets are amazing, I wouldn't have the patience to make one.

    I love other people's dogs, too. We decided we wouldn't have a pet as we travel, it would be too hard on it and us the way we're gone from the MH for hours and hours.

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    1. I am not sure I would have the patience either and I like doing crafts.

      We loved having Whiskey when we were traveling but it certainly did restrict us in many ways and because of that we decided not to get another dog. It seems that wherever we travel we always come in contact with dogs so we do get our doggie fix!

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  3. You had a great day. Wonder with whom Spot the dog hangs out when there's nobody around.
    A quick internet search tells me they speak Tarahumara. Not much of a stretch there. Their word for is is Rarámuri/Ralámuli.
    Have a safe drive today.

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    1. Spot belonged to the family that lived in the house behind where we were staying along with his playmate, Ramon ( a small wired haired terrier, I think!).

      Their language is a Mexican indigenous language.

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  4. I just had this conversation with a friend of mine, not 20 minutes ago. I love my dogs but I think this is it on dogs. We take them with us on all our camping trips but we are limited what we can do because of them. We haven't left them in the camper or tied up at our site when we leave. We don't want them disturbing others. So if we go in town, we all go. Looks like you have a great hiking buddy. Enjoy Spot while you are there.

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    1. It was the same with us when we had our dog, Whiskey. Whenever and wherever she could come with us, she did but there were a few times when we had to leave her behind in the motorhome. We were lucky and knew that she would just go to sleep while we were away and not bother anyone but you were always limited to how long you could stay away and it was always dependent on the weather. Yes, dogs definitely limit you.

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  5. I think Spot is working on gaining a permanent arrangement with you:)

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    1. It's not going to happen, we love our freedom more that we want to have another dog at the moment. Plus, Spot already has a home.

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  6. What a fantastic hike. Your pictures are really gorgeous. What a beautiful place. That spot is a good looker. The basket is amazing. I so agree with you that we westerners need to stop exporting our life style as if it is the best thing ever for everyone. I think a lot of people we consider poor live much happier lives than many many others.

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    1. Thanks Sherry! Spot was a great companion on our hike. He stuck to us like glue and was such a happy, go lucky dog.

      We have said along that just because people don't live to the standards that we are used to seeing doesn't necessarily make them poor. Since Kevin and I have started motorhoming we live a very simple life and feel richer for it.

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  7. You hit the nail on the head. The Mexican government, missionaries, and the infamous NGOs of the world, have been in Chihuahua working with the Tarahumara for more than 60 years. In the last four years, the Mexican government started a new housing program building two-room houses. They sit idle or are used for storage because the Tarahumara prefer living in their caves. Different religions have established churches that in reality, over the years, have provided more services for their own people than the locals. Poverty is when you take native people out of their environment and try to fit them into ours. Leave well enough alone. They are strong hearty people. Very good pictures. I'm glad you guys are enjoying the trip. We need to go back.

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  8. Just great! My idea of a perfect day...and the cherry on top is getting a companion for the hike :-)

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    1. Yep, that is our idea of a perfect day too!

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  9. What a beautiful hike and how fun to have a four-footed friend to accompany you! I thought it was interesting that you hiked into the Grand Canyon in 2006, because we did too! We started on the South Rim (Kaibab Trail), hiked to the river and back up the Bright Angel Trail in one day -- something like 16 miles. We had trained well for it, but it was still a tough day. Cold at the start and very hot at the river. We hiked on May 1st -- how about you?

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    1. We did our hike near the beginning of January and almost weren't able to do it because a big storm came through the area and dumped a pile of snow on the rim but further down it turned to rain and caused lots of damage to the trails. So much so that they closed both trails for several days and then opened up the Kaibab Trail towards the end of the week so we had to switch our agenda around as we were only there for one week. We hiked down the Kaibab Trail and spent the night at Phantom Ranch and then had to hike back out on the Kaibab Trail because the Bright Angel Trail was still closed and wasn't going to open for at least a couple of months because of a bad landslide on the trail. You did really well to have been able to do the full hike all in one day. My feet were just about dead by the end of the first day and we were both happy to enjoy the night at the ranch before hiking out the next day.

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  10. the basket was beautiful! did you buy one?
    as for the hike, looks like it was a great day..thanks for sharing the photo..hope that Spot will become a regular addition to your blog!

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    1. We had bought an basket the day before but unfortunately it wasn't from her. She actually wasn't selling any, she was just sitting outside of her house which was on the trail below the rim so it was just a chance encounter.

      No Spot won't be a regular addition to our blog or our family, he already has a house and a family but he decided that he wanted to tag along with us when we left for our hike.

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  11. A wonderful hike and great scenery.
    Suzie loves dogs and gets "doggie fixes" very frequently. And we are not tied down at all.

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    1. Yep, we get to enjoy many other dogs on our travels that that fills the void of not having another dog, at least at the moment.

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  12. That was a beautiful and very interesting hike. So, did you buy the beautiful basket? I am glad to hear that Spot had a home and was cared for. We have cats which are much easier to leave than dogs, so we do like you do and enjoy other peoples doggies.

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    1. We definitely want to come back to this area again and actually hike all the way to the bottom of the canyon but that means at least staying over night somewhere down there for one night or more.

      We did buy the basket in the picture that Kevin included but it wasn't from her. She was just making that one when we were hiking by and she didn't have any that she was selling. We bought this one at one of the stops on the train route from another young girl.

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  13. I did not go down into the canyon last year when I did the train ride, and I regret it. But I just didn't feel comfortable doing so as a woman traveling solo, with my limited Spanish. When you go back to explore, please let us know if you welcome fellow hikers. ;-)

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    1. I can understand your reasoning behind not wanting to hike down by yourself, although I am pretty sure you would have been safe, you could also have hired a local guide to take you on a hike.

      When we go back you are more than welcome to join us if you are in the area at the same time, we don't mind having company.

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  14. I find all that is written in your blog to be very accurate! We have been working in the area with the tarahumara in resent and past years!
    They are beautiful people !
    Aren't you amazed how the women can keep their colourful clothing so clean ; living outdoor !
    Your trip mKes me want to be there ; thank you for the blog and pictures !
    Remember don't travel at night !
    Play safe ! There are certain rules to play by !
    Enjoy your trip !

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    1. Happy to hear that our information is correct, we try to collect as much as we can form the locals and also get their perspective of things.

      Yes, the Tarahumara are very friendly people and we never felt unwelcomed when we saw them in town or on the trail.

      We too are always amazed at how bright and clean their clothes are and this was the same with the Mayans further south and they wear lots of white coloured clothing!

      We never travel at night in Mexico and even in Canada and the States. You would miss all the great scenery otherwise. :-)

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