#3.5EN ❥ Mexico. North. My lovely Creel

December 30, 2017

I fell in love with Mexico from the first moment. Here I spent about 7 wonderful months.


I came to Chihuahua, Chihuahua state (yes, the little dogs and the popular song came from here) Here, at the north of country, there are big cartels. Just few years ago people were shooting everywhere and it was possible to see a cut off head right on the streets. But last years it’s getting better. After I became close with this country and people I can say that this country is very contrast: love and pure nature just near violence and drugs.


My Mexican friends told me to go directly to south of country, its very dangerous on the north and there is not much to see. But Couchsurfers from the north had changed my mind. They told me about a canyon which is located near. 

To this area better do not hitchhike, people told me. So the mother of my CS host, now my good friend Ale, called to her friend to help me with ride. And she found Norberto which has a little business near Canyon. They were studying together about 10 years ago in university. He picked me up in the city, luckily he was going to airport for an English tourist and it was on the way (it takes 5 hours driving to get from city to the village). He was ready to host me for few days in Creel. 


Norberto has a small ranch, beautiful wife Monica and 3 sweet children: Paloma (13 yo), Norberto (10 yo) and Alondra (7 yo). Creel is a magic place. In Mexico there are several “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magic villages) and Creel is one of them.


La sierra – thats how the locals call this mountains region at the north of Mexico, where I felt welcome from the first day. I came here to visit Canyon Barrancas del Cobre, people like to compare it with Grand Canyon: huge, even deeper and very beautiful. So I just didn't want to leave this place that quickly!​
So I asked family if I could stay a little longer, help them with something and learn about their life. Norberto told me they had a few volunteers before. And they said: "Yes!" That how I became a part of this beautiful family. First days Norberto laughed on me and called me "City-girl" 😂 But I learned fast and started to work very good. We never knew how long I'll stay, but we enjoyed every day all together. This family is a part of me forever.



It is Taraumara’s (or Raramuri’s) land. Here in mountains living this Indians. They are walking a lot in the mountains with their especial sandals. There are many programs for support native people, volunteers from all Mexico and from other countries are coming to work with them. Raramuri women cultivating corn for tortillas, yellow and blue colors. Also they are making accessories from beads and threads. But men have a big problem with alcoholism. They drinking very cheap dangerous alcohol. They were contaminated by civilization.



Here I learned a lot about horses and other animals. How to communicate with nature. I understood Spanish language and even started to speak a little. Here I had an accident with scooter and 3 months with crutches. Here we opened a cinema under the sky and it was rainy 😂 Also we opened an art studio, hope it will work good, Monica has a real talent to work with children. Here I found love. Here my little rabbit die and the horse kicked a cat while she was running as a crazy scared of something, cat immediately died. Here I visited The most beautiful natural places at the north part of Mexico: Cooper canyon, walked through until Batopilas on the bottom; Bassaseachi waterfall, Valle de los Monches (unique forms of stones, locals called this place “Valley of erectile phallus” 😄 

Yeah, this is Mexico!)

My day looked like this:

6.45 Wake up

7.00 Preparing food for horses outside (they eat oats, which are stored in rectangular large blocks, it needs to be scattered across the field by little part for each horse)

7.10 Taking out horses, we have 9. I’m pushing them out into the field, specially fenced to protect them from escape. Dogs are alweys helping me, they are 3 lovely dogs

7.20 Going to feed chickens, they are many. Later going to put outside old chickens, they almost not making eggs anymore, just walking everywhere around and eating whatever they can find (my beautiful family never killing them)

7.30 Going to feed 3 dogs and 6+ cats (there are many many kitties)

8.00 Breakfast, Monica cooking delicious! After dishwashing

9.00 Going outside to work. Every 3rd day I’m cleaning stables. Others days are different: garden, or cleaning cars, or paint something, etc. I also did some design work. On the ranch always there is a lot of work. Norberto always had ideas what to do, and I liked it so much

14.30 Lunch. Again very delicious, traditional. Monica always cooking something interesting and vegan for me :)

15.00 Dishwashing and taking my time (sometimes drawing, sometimes learning how to drive a car, often I would continue working outside, I like it so much)

16.00 Feed chicken and relax

19.00 Preparing oats for horses in stables, and putting them there, because people are stolling horses. Once they got scared too much and run all together on the way to me. That was shocking, they we just a few millimetres from me, I was in the middle of the action

19.30-20.00 Dinner. We are always eating all together, like a real family. 

21.00 Chill and sleep. Oh, and a shot of tequila, of course, this is ranch! 🤠


From time to time Norberto was taking me to horseback riding. It was important experience. He was a real cowboy, with shiny eyes, beautiful smile, super skinny, very high, always with sombrero and cowboy-boots. He was a person with a big heart. Talented. Happy soul. Unique. My teacher, my inspiration, my friend. He is not there anymore, but he is forever in my heart, in our hearts.

I remember once, we were going in the back of truck, a group of friends, to mountains, to  start our 3-days hike. A trailer, with 2 mules inside, was behind us. The car's brakes suddenly broke down and the horses began to pull us from the cliff. Ricardo, one of our friends, reacted instantly! He jumped out of truck and put a stone under the wheel. After we were laughing: it’s real adventure, as the name of our ranch “El Aventurero”.



Here, in Creel, all people taking care about nature, respect the nature. Recycling is here in every house. Women here are using menstrual cups and reusable female pads, do not put more garbage to nature. In stores people using carton boxes from products instead of plastic bags. In winter here there is a lot of snow.



Local people here created an alternative school for children, they call it “life school”. The system is absolutely different then in government’s schools, but they are already certificated school. There is only one class, where studding children of different age. Here they are until 12 y.o., and after going to regular school. Every child has a plan, which he should make. So, each person should analyze and decide on what he/she needs to work: mathematic, spanish, painting, cooking tortillas, etc. Teacher is helping them with it. In this way they are learning about different things in life, they have a lot of practice, not only theory, also every child has responsibility about himself. All this happening in a house, which has also garden and animals: pigs, chicken and goats. Children are taking care about it as well.

I was invited to the school to talk about russia. Children are very smart, interested in different cultures, paying attention. It’s a good alternative way to study.

Here, in the middle of the town, there is a huge graffiti with 13 portraits. It turned out that some years ago guys from the cartel came here to kill one of the person which is now on the graffiti. At that time he was playing with other guys outside traditional sport game. There were children there. The cartel care shot to all people who was there. In the memory of them, local artist panted portraits of the dead people. 


Near, in Cuauhtémoc city, leaving Mennonites, I wrote especial post about them. They cultivating nuts and apples. In the same city in this summer one bar with people inside was shot.


Here, at the north, people are not celebrating a day of death, as at the south.


Here is impossible to find a poppy for cooking because only cartels can cultivate it, on mountains, for producing drugs. Once we were hiking near one plantations with this beautiful flowers. I wanted to take picture but it was impossible, my friends stopped me. It is dangerous.

In Mexico the 15 y.o. girl's  celebration looks like a marriage. All relatives and friends are coming, they have a luxury dresses. They eating, drinking and dancing!

Once, Norberto was invited to the celebration of the daughter of the local cartel’s boss. He had to give a horseback rides for children there. Of course he couldn’t say “no”, he just didn’t have a choice 😅

One anecdote from Norberto:

In the rating of the most corruption countries in the world Mexico was on the 2nd place, right after Russia. It’s because they paid to Russia, to be not on the first place 😀
This is Mexico! People are energetic, smily, tricky and happy!


I came to Creel as a volunteer, but now it is my 2nd home. Here is my family, friends! We were always helping each other and enjoyed the tranquility, work and nature. 5 months left – one of the most beautiful periods in my life. I met there many beautiful people. They are forever in my heart. 


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© 2014 Anastasiya Smolina |  Graphic design & Illustration & Travel
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