A Big Game Photo Safari in Mexico.

A number of years ago, I took an incredible train ride through what’s called The Copper Canyon in Mexico. Actually, it’s a series of several canyons which, together, are larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The train is operated by the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad and runs daily in both directions between Chihuahua in central Mexico and Los Moches, the consist including both first class and second class coaches. There is a dining car for first class passengers. The whole trip takes more than 15 hours, but I stopped for a couple of days in the little town of Creel, about halfway through the route.

The Mexican tourism officials had arranged for me to be taken on a tour of the area and at the appointed hour, a battered van pulled into the dusty parking area in front of my little hotel. A smiling man of about 40 jumped out, introduced himself as Polo, and assured me we would be seeing some spectacular sights on our tour of the environs.

Minutes later we were on a gravel road cutting through a terrain of rocks and boulders, some the size of SUVs, strewn haphazardly among tall pine trees. After about fifteen minutes, Polo slammed his foot on the brake and the van slid to a stop at the side of the road. “Bring your camera,” he said, opening the van door and clambering out.

I got out and stood beside him in front of the van. Polo pointed across the road. “There!”, he said triumphantly. I looked … and saw nothing. Trees. Rocks. Boulders. Lots of both. Polo stared at me, an expression of concern beginning to creep across his face. “Look,” he insisted. “It’s a rock, but it’s also an elephant!”

And sure enough. On the other side of the road, about 100 feet away, was a huge mass of rock that, as I stared at it, did indeed resemble an elephant. I dutifully photographed the stone beast, Polo beaming his approval.

For the next hour or so we saw other boulders eroded over millennia by wind and rain that had assumed other semi-familiar shapes, including more than a few mushrooms. To be fair, there were also stops overlooking the spectacular canyon.

Finally, to my delight, Polo suggested we conclude our tour by stopping by a friend’s house for a beer. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a local beverage made from corn and served at room temperature from a bucket. That’s another story for another time. But, speaking of buckets, put the Copper Canyon train on your bucket list!