It seemed like a good idea, taking the Copper Canyon Train to Chihuahua. The brochure said it had a glass-topped roof. I imagined myself watching the splendid gorges while sipping rice water in clay mugs.
The train was overbooked and I felt lucky to find a seat. An elderly woman, with hips that spilled over onto my seat, ate raw radishes and grilled onions. She offered me crispy Chicharrónes with fried hair that glistened in the sunlight. I declined. She looked offended, heaved a sigh and her hips multiplied by a factor of ten. She had been holding back.
I tried to imagine being somewhere else, but it wouldn’t work. I got up and looked for the glass roof. My body moved between the swaying cars like a drunken crab. I asked about the glass roof. No one had seen it.
I started regretting giving up my seat. Where was this stupid glass roof.
Then I saw a man greedily sprawled out on four seats, one arm tucked under his head like a pillow. I approached the man and demanded he sit up like everyone else. Looking around at no one in particular, I yelled, “He’s taking up four seats”.
A woman leaned forward and placed her hand on my shoulder with the grip of a rock climber. Her eyes were so far apart that it was hard to stay put on just one. Maybe nature had made room for three, but somewhere in the womb, the Cyclops eye had been forgotten. I heard her say, “Leave him be. The poor soul fell over dead half way across the canyon.”
At that moment, not being able to look this woman directly in the eye was a blessing. All I could think was I had just yelled at a dead man. Someone needed to give me a hat with “jerk” written across the front.
I never found the glass roof that day and I don’t recall much about the train ride after my encounter with the dead guy. I do remember that I never found a seat again but, at that point, I didn’t think I deserved one.
Note to Reader: Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre) is located in the southwestern corner of the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. It is larger than the Grand Canyon in Arizona and deeper in some areas. The canyons were formed by six rivers which drain into the western side of the Sierra Tarahumara (a part of the Sierra Madre Occidental.)