Valle De Las Ranas y Los Hongos
Located a few kilometers outside Creel in the central state of Chjhuahua deep in the heart of Mexico is this lovely little valley. Its name translates into ‘Valley of the Frogs and Mushrooms’ and is home to the Tarahumara Indians. I spent a day biking around this beautiful valley with a couple of fellow backpackers I met while traveling through Creel on my way to the Copper Canyon. If you’re planning a visit to the area, you can read about tours, rental equipment, park price, and my trips to and from the region in my Mexico Chapter entries of ‘Valle De Los Monjes‘ and ‘Overland: Alamos to Creel’.
The name of the valley derives from the curious rock formations which resemble toadstools. Located along the main dirt road which connects this valley with Valle de los Monjes is the San Ignacio Mission. The Jesuit church was build during the 18th century and continues to serve as a cultural hub for the Tarahumara. My travel companions and I were quite fortunate when we arrived on the day we did and discovered the church was open and provided us with a few good photo ops; most travelers are usually met with closed doors.
San Ignacio Mission
Inside the Mission
Situated next to the Mission is an elementary and middle school for the local kids. As you can see in the photos, this portion of Mexico is very isolated and not very populated. With the exception of the occasional ranch, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of industry or jobs for locals in the area. As a result, because the kids must make very long journeys from their homes to school, all of the kids stay at the school for the entire school week and only return to their families on the weekends. All their meals, education, entertainment, and socialization take place at this place place for five days every week. I wasn’t able to find out who installed the solar powering for the school but found the fact that they even have it be quite curious.
Some Tarahumara people and the school in the background with the solar panels
The school kids during a class break
Just like Valle De Los Monjes, this place is definitely off the beaten tourist path so you won’t have much luck finding out much information about it. One day is sufficient time to take in both the Valley of Frogs and Mushrooms and the Valley of the Monks. If you wake up earlier than I did on this day, you’ll also be able to fit in Cascada de Casarare.
If you go, be sure and bring a bit of pocket change with you; the Tarahumara Indians are extremely poor and supplement their existence by selling small handcrafts. The items are very cheap and very colorful. The Tarahumara selling the items are very timid so you’ll have to approach them to make your purchases.
One of my travel companions with the Indians
As always - me representing Northface products all over the globe!
Wall painting inside the Mission
The Alter inside the Mission