Divisidero to Los Mochis - January 1, 1986
The train did not arrive until around 1 in the afternoon and by this point in the trip we were becoming expert at killing time in the wait for transport. A freight lumbered through in mid morning, the Tarahumara set up their baskets for the train that came, every day, sometime, and we tossed rocks at the bushes on the far side of the tracks and ate lunch from the burrito joint. We boarded the train when it whistled for all to re-board at the close of the 15 minute sight seeing stop at Divisidero. We knew that the best part of the rail trip was the part about to come.
For a train fan, the Chihuahua Pacifico of the mid 80's was railroading like we did it in the USA perhaps 80 years before. The trains were running on written train orders and quite often the train would stop at a siding and the crew would take to the phone to call a far away dispatcher to find out if we were to go to the next siding. There were no signals and if you heard a loud bang, it was torpedo placed on the rail to warn of a track gang working ahead.
The construction of the route took many decades and the Brits finally pulled it off after what we were told was an 80 year multi party effort. The route is just incredible as it wends its way down to the Gulf of California from the heights of Divisadero. The foliage changes from high pines to subtropical greenery. The tracks curve left and right and at one point the route turns back on itself in a spiral tunnel similar to the Yoho tunnels on the Canadian Pacific main above Field, British Columbia. The route goes through a number of Sierra Madre towns, each with a white church and the brown poverty surrounding it. The rivers are wild, the topography even wilder and it is not hard to imagine the illicit industry that makes its home in the lush hills of the state of Sinaloa.
We had dinner in the dining car and hung out the vestibule between trips to the bathroom from too many cold refrescos. I learned from the guy next to me how to efficiently vomit out of the window when the train is moving along at 40 mph. (take off your cowboy hat, hold it to the side of your head to break the wind and vomit with abandon) Not that I had the need but you might as well observe the techniques of others should the need arise. We left the winding course in the hills and the click clack of the rail joints came more quickly as the train picked up speed for the final run into Los Mochis, arriving at about 8 pm and well after dark. We grabbed our packs and caught a cab to the hotel I picked out of the Lonely Planet guide. They had a room, were willing to rap on the door at 6 the next morning and, after we dropped the packs in the room, we went out onto the streets and found something to eat before a good night's sleep.