Waterfalls and Lakes and Monks, Oh My!

Shortly after our healings, we jumped back into the van and continued our visit to sites in and around Creel.  We were first headed to Cascada Cusárare, where the Cusárare River plummets 100 feet over a rock ledge as it begins its journey to join the Urique River.  Cusarare means “place of the eagles” in Rarámuri; however, the once plentiful golden eagles who lived in this area are now found only in a few isolated spots.  This area is very important to the Rarámuri as it is home to thermal springs which they believe hold curative powers.  Had I known about this prior to my healing by shaman, I just might have opted for the thermal springs instead.

The waterfall is located in a the Cusárare Canyon, and due to a drought that has affected the Sierra Madre region for many years now, our van was able to drop us off right at the beginning of the trailhead.  A young, Rarámuri boy guided us to the top of the falls.  Our path was not too difficult, and there was no fear of getting lost even if we somehow managed to lose our guide. The trail was lined with stalls manned by Rarámuri women selling their baskets, jewelry, and carvings.  We were able to watch several women weave as we hiked through.  And if we happened to wear ourselves out on the trek, checking out the goods provided us with a great excuse to rest for a minute.


On our way to Creel for lunch, we stopped by Lago de Arareko, a u-shaped lake, surrounded by fragrant pine forests and interesting rock formations.  We saw eagles soaring over a wide open meadow to one side of the lake.  Coming from Indiana, lakes were certainly nothing new to me.  But kind of like the waterfall, it was an unexpected surprise.  I am also the kind of person who can get pretty excited by just about anything.  And a never seen before high altitude lake in the Sierra Madre definitely qualifies.

We did not have a lot of time to explore Creel after lunch.  It reminded me of a frontier style town and was definitely more touristy than anything I had seen since our trip to Cabo San Lucas in December.  Steve and I did have the opportunity to visit the basket store where the Rarámuri women could trade their handicrafts for supplies.  Everything in the store was absolutely gorgeous, and the potential was definitely there for a frenzy.  But Steve had actually done a little shopping of his own that day, and garbage bags aside, I did not want us to be too overwhelmed with packages for our return trip.  I selected one item and was pleased to know the proceeds from my purchase would help support the Clinica Santa Teresa.

On our way to the Valley of the Monks, our final stop, we passed rock formations that resembled elephants, mushrooms, and frogs.  The Valley of the Monks had, of course, been renamed by the Spanish.  The Rarámuri had a name more in line with the fertility rituals practiced here.  And once we saw the rock formations, their name made perfect sense.  I suppose if I closed one eye and squinted, I could kind of, sort of see where the Spanish might have seen monks instead.  The rocks were formed from wind and rain and rise some 15 to 20 meters high.  It was amazing to walk among the giant figures.  

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It was very serene, in spite of the Rarámuri children who appeared out of nowhere hoping to sell bracelets and wooden figurines.  We knew before coming the many hardships faced by the Rarámuri and how much they depended on the tourists to supplement their subsistence lifestyle.   And I happily swapped 10 peso coins for small carvings of Rarámuri Indian women in colorful skirts and kerchiefs.  


The Rarámuri are very supportive of one another.  Earnings and other goods are often shared among families.  In fact, on our way to the Valley of the Monks, we passed the only Rarámuri home in the area with a television.  We were not at all surprised to learn that the owner regularly hosted viewing parties and invited all of his neighbors.

From start to finish, this was one of those days that will remain forever in my heart as one of the best.  Body, soul, and spirit were all “healed” by the human and natural wonders in what can only be described as a magical place.