El Fuerte, in the northern part of our state of Sinaloa. El Fuerte is a beautiful little town with a large fort rising over it; thus, the name. The fort was originally built in 1610 by the Spaniards to ward off the natives. It has cobblestone streets, gorgeous mansions from the gold and silver mining days, and a central Plaza de Armas. The plaza is home to a beautiful church, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, built 1760-1804, as well as Los Portales and the Casa de las Culturas. We enjoyed walking around town, and there is a lovely lagoon as well. We stayed in a very spacious, comfortable and affordable room at Hotel El Fuerte, a gorgeous 300 year old hacienda. We ate dinner (comida or lunch) in a small family-owned restaurant, and had cocktails during “El Zorro Happy Hour” at the Posada del Hidalgo. It is supposedly where Don Diego de la Vega, or El Zorro, was born. The pool area was beautiful, but the event was too campy for our tastes. We did enjoy domino time at our poolside table afterwards, margaritas at hand.
Any trip through Barranca del Cobre involves a ride on the incredible Chihuahua al Pacífico steam train, nicknamed “El Chepe.” The railroadpasses through 86 tunnels and 37 bridges in its 408 mile (650 km) journeyto Chihuahua City. We bought first class tickets, because we wanted to be sure we would be comfortable, and it included the dining car. For the price it seemed well worth it, but we never really saw what economy class looked like, so we can’t comment on it. The train had comfortable seating, a terrific dining car, and a bar area with tables on which to play cards or games. Standing between the cars to better look up at the mountains and down into the canyons was pretty exciting, too.