Chihuahua to Creel – Day 2 in Mexico

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By Jonathan H

As I pulled out of the Holiday Inn express of Chihuahua, Mexico (yes, I actually stayed at an evil American conglomerate – and, I might add, overpriced at 900 pesos). The extra cost did, however, pay off in that the managers were the only people I met in Mexico who spoke fluent English – this proved invaluable in finding the Plaza Central de Chihuahua.

Plaza Central de Chihuahua

Plaza Central de Chihuahua

What I’ve seen today rivals what I saw in San Francisco, the first time I had seen a city. The U.S. calls itself a melting pot, but they can’t lay claim to what Mexico can be proud of. In the space of one block, I saw middle-class Mexican mestizos, upper-class criollos (pure-bred Spanish), Tarahumara (Chihuahua’s native indeginous people who wear colorful dresses and still live in caves – the men wear loin cloths, believe it or not). I saw Mennonites (they’re not only in Pennsylvania, apparently)

Colorful Boots in Chihuahua

These colorful boots in Chihuahua are a reflection of Mexican culture as a whole. America doesn’t even compare to the melting pot of Mexico.

And the cattleman – they put American cattlemen to shame. They actually use their horses for utilitarian reasons around here. I was just driving down the road about an hour ago and I saw a kid who didn’t look older than nine who was riding as if he was on Seabiscuit, jumping fences and canyons, putting my truck to shame.

Dust Storm in Mexico

Everything in Mexico has to dazzle the eyes – even this dust devil the size of a tornado.

Talking Over Tecate in Creel

I rolled into Creel about 5 p.m. to encounter Americans. This made me sad. I thought it would become my special Mexican town that nobody else knew about. Creel is a tiny little pueblo. There are a few banks and restaurants. I think it boasts a population of about 6,000. As I changed my money in a casa de cambio, I crossed the street and found a little restaurant/bar.

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A unique view of mountain biking in Creel, Mexico

Nobody was in there, but I asked for Tecate, and it was readily produced. The woman who I met was very talkative and easygoing. She had a small daughter with her who was nine years of age. I told her where I was from. Funny, every Mexican I’ve talked to so far always talk about the bridge. Even in the small pueblo of Creel, 300 miles south of the border, this woman knew about the Golden Gate Bridge.

We exchanged the normal conversation starters – thank god I can understand and somewhat respond to most of them. Her daughter was a bit shy at first, but she opened up to me and brought out her textbook from school. She wanted me to show her on the map where San Francisco was. She told me she spoke English and sang to me “Frere Jacques” in English. I helped teach her the word for “honga” in English (hongas are mushrooms and the woman said that there were many in the surrouding hills). I’m now sitting at the top of the Sierra Madres.

The Espactaculo in Creel

The people here are friendly, and I’ve never felt safer anywhere. It’s odd. Even though they are poor, they never ask for anything directly – they are always open to chatting. At my camping spot, I heard music playing from a tent down the block. The circus, or “espactaculo” was in town. There are only two actors in the troupe. It’s not a freak show. The best way to describe it is to say it’s a lot like the talent shows we had as kids in Elementary School. There is a magic show, lip syncing of popular songs, and the ever-so-popular ass jiggling (I’m not joking). There were to main actors and one assistant. the two actors played all of the parts. The kids in the audience loved the show, and there was the occassional young couple, old couple, random cowboy with wranglers and cowboy hat in the tent.

What struck me were the overtly sexual jokes when the majority of the audience were children.The kids seemed to laugh the most at them, too. For twenty pesos, it was a steal. I watched the people watching the circus, more than I watched the circus itself.

There are ravenous dogs around my campground. I had to barricade myself in the back of the pickup truck. Otherwise, I still feel safe, and the crescent moon is low in the horizon, a chilly breeze with a tinge of pine scent carried from the mountains sweeps by, and the sound of Ranchera music in the background. There was no feeling lonely in the company of stars at 6,000 feet in the Sierra Madre.

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