One thing you should never
Eat at the dinner table
Is your words.
Eat at the dinner table
Is your words.
|Old cobble stone street. When it rains here it comes in torrents so good grade and drainage is essential|
Although the charm of this small town of 500 people is undeniable, it was our hosts who made all the difference. Gary and Lois are ex-cruisers (can you ever truly be an ex-cruiser?) and they had a lot of great information to share about the Sea of Cortez and the Gold Coast of Mexico, etc. They were certainly very helpful and gracious to let us ask them many questions about sailing and the town they now call home.
Copala was established in 1565 as a silver mining town; it is located in the Sierra Madre Mountains at 2,000 feet, and about 40 miles East of Mazatlán. It is a fairly well preserved Colonial Town full of cobblestone streets, numerous historic buildings and a small central plaza. Well worth a day visit.
The choices to get there are numerous and mostly low cost: taxis, arregas, pulmonias, bus, or tours. We all know what taxis are but here in Mazatlán, they are not necessarily your most expensive choice – there is room to bargain. We hailed a green taxi to the bus terminal after haggling over price, which you always do before getting a ride in this country. Once the price was confirmed and we hopped in with puppy in tow, another taxi came to park parallel to the one we were in. At that point the drivers exchanged some words then our driver asked us to move into this other red taxi. I later read that taxis are yellow (when they come from the airport), red or green (depending on the zone they cover and/or the company they work for). In the end, it doesn’t matter which way you go, you will usually have the chance to listen to local music once on the road.
|Great colorful buses - slowly becoming extinct however|
Most of these buses are refurbished old school buses and the drivers seem to delight in the sound of grinding gears. Their favorite gear for downhill is neutral and the trick seems to be to shift in the highest possible gear as soon as possible so you can lug the motor at very low RPMs when the hill ends. Two partners, the driver and the helper (ayudante) seem to work on the bus. The helper loudly announces the destination, collects fares, and at times, helps with luggage. Road signs don’t seem to mean much to Mexican drivers – they often pass on solid double lines – this also applies to bus drivers. When we arrived back in Mazatlán, we saw a drab yellow school bus from Grand Prairie, Alberta…. They hadn’t had a chance to repaint it to the local colors yet…
|Typical arrega from www.mazatlantoday.net|
|Pulmonia - not a colorful one in the case|
One the way back, we took an early bus (7am) back to Mazatlán. It was packed with school children and workers. Arregas and buses are a great way to be with the locals whereas taxis and pulmonias tend to be used by tourists. Copala only has schools up to grade 9 so if kids want to further their education, which unfortunately they seldom do, they need to take the bus to Concordia. Even the driver’s kids were in the bus. At one point, the bus stalled and a lady in the right front seat quickly jumped in the driver’s seat as the driver went outside to do something to the motor. She helped restart it and it seemed she had helped him do that a few times before. She went back to her seat when the driver came back in and off again we went. These drivers, as private owners, seem to have certain connections to various small businesses along their routes. You often see exchange of money for newspapers, food, coffee, etc. Since they spend long hours each day on their particular route, they get to know what to get where and when and all these interactions are very quick.
Everything went well on this first inland foray. We even had the good luck of sitting next to a third generation resident from Copala, who was able to continue the conversation we started with him when we met him in the small town (More on that in Copala, a Charming Colonial Town).