Norberto and his partner have a ranch in the town of Creel which is situated right on the edge of the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon). There is a cabin on the property that will house around 15 people and we had it all to ourselves! What a blessing this was for our boys. They were able to be outside throughout our entire visit. They hiked in the mountains behind the cabin, rode their bikes, and built bonfires every night. It was like being back home in NC!!
We planned to go on a 4-5 hour horseback ride to the Canyon on our first day there. The boys' excitement rivaled Christmas! We headed over to the barn at 9am to saddle up and Jackson kept saying he wanted to ride his "own horse". Norberto didn't think this would be any problem for him, but Brad and I were biting our lips. Jackson mounted his horse and it took about two steps before Jackson was saying, in a panicked voice, "I want to ride with my Mom!" After switching horses and trying to ride tandem, Brad and I decided it would be best for Jackson and I to stay behind. We were both so disappointed! When Brad and the boys left we went back to the cabin and cried on eachothers' shoulders for about an hour. Then we got over it and made the best of a beautiful day in beautiful surroundings. When the guys returned they were beat and had great stories and great pictures from their trip. Brad also informed me that he had arranged for me to go on another trail ride with Brandon and Miller the next day.
At this point, I need to interject an important piece of information. I know this will come as a shocker to many of you, but I really am quite prissy! I know, I know, I hide it well. That said, a trip to a canyon is a stretch for me. A horseback ride through the canyon is taking me completely out of my box! But a trip to the Canyon, a five hour horseback ride, and a hike into the Canyon...I think you get the point! I was more than a little apprehensive about the day, but I had prayed about it and I didn't want to go back home knowing I had missed this opportunity that I may never have again. So around 9am we set out.
My biggest fear was that I would fall off the horse. So when Norberto asked me if I liked to gallop, I was honest and said "I'm fine with slow!". The boys have still not stopped reminding me that the ride took longer because "Mom wouldn't gallop!" Sorry!! As we headed out that morning I felt like I was in a cowboy movie riding through the old west. To say it was beautiful would be a pitiful understatement. Living in Reynosa, we don't see much grass or trees. We often talk of how much we miss the NC landscape, with its rolling hills, green grass, and tall trees. Well, there were times in the Copper Canyon when we felt like we were back in NC. Although the Canyon is said to be four times the size of the Grand Canyon it doesn't look anything like it. Picture the Grand Canyon with green river valleys and Pine covered mountaintops.
As we rode through the valley,we were crossing property belonging to the Tarahumara Indians. These people have lived in this area for hundreds of years. They dress traditionally and many of them live without electricity or water in the valley or in caves within the mountains. They come into town a lot to sell hand-made traditional crafts. They reminded us of Eskimos in their look. It was fascinating to see them and quite humbling to see how they live. Brad and I agreed that in some ways we envied their simple life and in others we did not.
After riding throught the fertile valley , dotted with Tarahumara cabins, wild horses, cows wearing bells, and herds of sheep tended by children, we gradually climbed into the mountains on our way to the canyon. It was awesome when we arrived at the edge! The sounds, scenery, everything changed. Norberto tied up our horses and led us to the drop-off. Then he started walking down!! Brandon followed right behind him and out of sight. Miller and I looked at eachother. Miller just said, "No way!! I'm not going down there." I encouraged him as much as a chicken hearted priss can.
I will not bore you with the details of the hike down, but I will give you the highlights. First of all, Norberto literally walked down the mountain without so much as holding on. If he were an Indian his name would definitely be "Sure Footed One "! Miller and I stayed very close together and I just kept saying "Don't look down!" As scary as it was, the view was indescribable. At one point we stopped so that I could get my camera out of the backpack and we nearly lost the backpack down the mountainside. Fortunately Sure Footed One grabbed it just in time.
The reason for our hike was to explore some cave drawings that are hundreds of years old. At each cave along the route we stopped so Norberto could point them out and give us the details on them. Our last cave was the largest. It was obvious that someone had lived there. We sat here and rested a while and enjoyed some get-to-know-you conversation before heading back to our horses and the ride back.
Before we began our hike, Norberto warned us that he had seen more snakes in this area than anywhere. He told us to be careful. I just started praying! On our trek back up the mountain, he stopped us to tell us another bit of interesting info. Miller was just about to sit down on a rock when he said "Snake!" Sure enough, right where Miller was about to put his hand a rattle snake was coiled up. It was a very small snake. We thought it was a baby, but Norberto told us this particular rattler is small. He deftly, picked it up with a stick and sent it down the mountain. At the same time I sent up a prayer thanking our Protector! Norberto said he didn't know how Miller had seen it....but I knew. After much huffing and puffing on my part, we made it back to the horses and started home.
On the way back Norberto asked me how I was doing and I said "Wonderful!" He said, " I hope you still say that tomorrow!" We met Brad and Jackson at the cabin and shared our adventure with them. I told Brad I was very proud that I had taken this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, but I also shared that I already had the title for the next blogpost...."Me No Likey Hikey!!!" This has become my "tagline",if you will. Anytime I feel it appropriate I remind my family of it.
We've been blessed as a family to take many wonderful vacations and trips, but we all agree this was our first "Adventure". We made memories that will last a lifetime, we saw parts of God's creation that amazed us anew, we stepped out of our comfort zones, and we had the privilege of meeting the Rodriguez family. Norberto is a superb guide and a pleasure to be around. Our trip would not have been the same without the help of him and his family. Gracias a Familia Rodriguez!
I'm going to post some of the pictures from our trip here and the rest are on my facebook. I also wanted to just catch everyone up with what is going on here in Reynosa. The boys are keeping busy with their schoolwork and helping Brad at the the home. Brad has been continuing to paint the inside of each of the "casas" where the children live. What an improvement it is! Only 2 casas left and the job will be complete. I have been busy with school and with some English tutoring. Two different children have asked for help with their language skills. One is a 12-year-old boy from the home, Jonathon. Please pray for Jonathon. He is not able to go to school because he is so far behind. He just came to CHI about two months ago. Before that his grandmother was raising him. His mother has passed away. He is a very sweet young man with great potential. He just needs someone to teach him. Pray for me that I will be the influence he needs and that I can help him to catch up even a little. My other student is a nine-year-old girl whose aunt lives across the street from us. Her name is Ivana. She has been over a few times to play with Jackson. A couple of weeks ago she came over and asked me if I would help her with her English. Ironically, I had been praying that the Lord would help me with my Spanish comprehension. As usual, He answered my prayer...in His way!! Jonathon and Ivana have helped my comprehension so much! Thank you God!
We have been here six months now. Sometimes it feels like six weeks and sometimes six years! We thought we knew what God had in store for us here, what He had for us to do. We are realizing more and more everyday that it isn't so much about what we are doing for others, but what God is doing in us. He has changed us tremendously in the last six months and we know he will change us even more. Please continue to pray for us that we seek His will and His glory above all else.
As you know, we are supported here completely through donations from friends and family. God has moved in the hearts of many of you to give what you can and we are very thankful. At this time we are still short of what we need to cover our yearly expenses. If the Lord leads you to help out in any way you can send a donation to our church (address is listed at right) or directly to us (address also at right). We thank you for your prayers and your donations on our behalf. Please know that you are all in our constant prayers. May God bless you ...
Sure Footed One!!