Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians, Chapter 5

Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…

The town of Creel has a population of about 5,000. It’s a pretty small place. The gunshots were coming from somewhere at the edge of town which wasn’t that far away. I suppose I should’ve been more disturbed, but honestly I wasn’t.

I live in a rural part of Central Texas and I hear gunshots almost every day. In fact, on some days, the shots I hear are mine.


Anthony is such a good camera man he even makes drying clothes look interesting.

The co-op was on a small backstreet and many buildings surrounded us. The shots sounded far enough away I thought there wouldn’t be any danger of ricochets or stray bullets hitting us. Or, I hoped so.

I looked at the rest of our group. Pedro had settled in sitting quietly on the step in front of the store. His face unreadable in that placid way that Indians around the world seem to have. Anthony was alert, but calm. “Sounds like a typical day in Fresno,” Anthony said when he saw I was checking in on him. Dave was busy talking to people to see if he could find out what was going on.


Anthony had the heaviest pack.




Impulse Shopping in Creel, Mexico

So I did the safest thing I could think of and entered the store and went shopping. It was inside a concrete building – surely no bullets would get in there? (Note to my husband: see how shopping is a good thing and can actually save your life at times?).

I’m not any great expert on conflict, but one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that any fight – be it with fists, knives, or guns – is usually over very quickly. And sure enough the shots died down within minutes.

A small crowd had gathered in the street in front of the store. The co-op had turned into an impromptu community center. Everyone was looking for information on what had happened and no one knew. Since milling about there wasn’t doing us any good, Pedro suggested that we head off to the bus station and wait there. Pedro told us the buses fill up and if we wanted a seat we should get there early.




Catching the Bus to Tarahumara Country

I expected the bus to be a refurbished old school bus, and I was mildly surprised to see it was a slightly newer model touring coach. A few years ago I visited Cuba and every day brought a new miracle as the bus sputtered its way safely to and from where we were going. If its old inspection sticker was to be believed, that Cuban school bus had been in Louisiana in 1987 at one point in its history. We all took turns sitting in this one seat where you had to use your feet to hold down a piece of cardboard that covered a giant hole in the floorboard. If you didn’t keep the hole covered, then everyone riding inside the bus would get to breathe toxic exhaust.

The big red coach in front of us now looked in much better shape. Compared to that old Cuban bus, this looked downright deluxe. “Don’t get too excited,” Dave said, “these coaches might be newer, but they have cloth seats.”


The vomit comet, also known as the bus to Batopilas, Mexico



“Why are cloth seats a problem?” I asked, surprised.


“Well,” said Dave, “with those old school buses you could go inside and hose them down. These new ones with cloth seats you can never wash out the smell of vomit.”

Within my first few steps on to the bus I knew exactly what he meant.

And we would soon to find out why people riding this bus would be compelled to vomit. In fact, I would nickname the bus “the vomit comet.”


This article is Chapter 5 in the series “Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarhumara Indians.” You can read the rest of the series here:

Chapter 1: Extreme Agri-Tourism
Chapter 2: Hard Traveling
Chapter 3: The Tarhumara Girls School
Chapter 4: How To Lose 30 Pounds In 10 Seconds
Chapter 5: Gunfights Don’t Usually Last That Long…
Chapter 6: The Vomit Comet Through Tarahumara Country
Chapter 7: Don’t Ever Do This When Traveling In Strange Territory
Chapter 8: Nice Legs Really Scare Tarahumara Men
Chapter 9: Living Sustainably Is An Everyday Thing Here
Chapter 10: The Biggest Surprise of the Trip
Chapter 11: Another Tarahumara Myth Busted
Chapter 12: Sleeping with Rats is Better than Freezing
• Chapter 13: COMING SOON

(Visited 200 times, 1 visits today)

Categorised in: , , ,

This post was written by Marjory


  • Margo;) says:

    Marjory; Enjoying your story immensely! I have been to Mexico. ALWAYS grateful to be home in the USA! Thank you for sharing~

  • Ramona says:

    Marjory, I am thoroughly enjoying these articles! Can’t wait for the next one…

  • Natalie says:

    Ditto. I’m hooked!!!

  • Pogo says:

    For some reason I started with #6. When I looked at the list, I thought to myself, “I am not reading all of these.” Sure enough I read them all in one sitting. I even went to mapquest to see if I could find Creel. I could not. I did pick up a prep idea or two. The idea of having water tanks on the roof or up high when you have power to fill them and gravity fed water when you don’t. Your list of gifts are also great barter items.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.