Barranca del Cobre: Batopilas


One of the highlights of Copper Canyon is the road down to Batopilas, a spaghetti of hairpin turns made all the more dangerous by the intrusion of livestock and landfall.  Tribes of goats, stray donkeys, stubborn cattle, and brazen dogs colonize the asphalt with equal claim.  Huge landslides appear around blind corners.  Rubble from minor rockfalls cover the road's surface like marbles in some doomed Wile E. Coyote plot to catch the Roadrunner.  Meanwhile, the magnificent views seduce and distract riders from the keen focus needed to make it safely down to the valley.


But just as in a Greek myth: the more challenging the quest, the greater the reward, and at the end of that asphalt crucible is a small riverside village of intense color and warmth.  Batopilas is one of Mexico's Pueblos Magicos, a series of villages dubbed culturally important by the government.  All day long residents orbit the central plaza, speaking to neighbors and tourists with equal ease.  Its buildings, none more than three stories high, are painted every hue of unearthly color---neon pinks, toxic greens, celestial blues, candied yellows---as if to offset the drab umbers and ochres of the surrounding mountains.  Aging trees create a canopy over the village, providing plentiful shade in the heat trapped valley.  


The local hotel owners are well versed in the needs and pampering of motorcyclists, permitting them to lug their muddy machines through the delicate foyers and into the courtyards, the bulk and excess of those modern monstrosities standing in direct offense to a villa's old world charm.  But the owners take all this in good stride, as they do the intense summer heat, the swarms of evening mosquitos, the road closures, the spring floods, the fall droughts, and all other small nuisances that ebb and flow like the river.

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