Durango – hospitality, trains and snowy mountains


Wednesday 5th – Chilling and window shopping.

We decide not to go far in the car today. Tomorrow we are going on the steam train to Silverton in the mountains and so we go into Durango – a short fifteen minute drive from our lovely Airbnb – and we collect our tickets and check out times and parking etc.

A kind parking warden from Guernsey as it turns out, warns me that I am busy feeding my dollars into the wrong parking metre and I should move my car. I’m sure in England the warden would have hidden, chuckling with glee, and as soon as we were gone would have slapped a ticket on us.

We then walk through the old town. It still has its Western charm but is a wealthy place now. It is in a magnificent setting at the foot of mountains and with the substantial Animas River supplying the water that nourishes it. All around, hidden underground, are substantial deposits of natural gas that have also fed into its economy.

We get to witness the call out of the whole Durango fire service half way up the Main Street. We learn that a restaurant has caught fire and spread to another.

” More excitement than we’ve had for a long time”, exclaims a traffic officer.

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We have been invited to eat with our hosts tonight so I enjoy buying some wine for the meal from a winery and tasting some beers in one of the six local breweries before we set off to walk back along the river.

Suddenly we are in the countryside. There are fishermen fly fishing for trout along this length.

One section of the river bank, until the fifties, was the red light district. In Durango’s hey day as a mining town there were several brothels here and the ladies were referred to as ” The Fancy Women”. This area is literally ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ as the railway bisects the town longways. Nowadays it seems to be a bit of a gathering point for itinerants and homeless people who are gathered on the far bank to start the daily drinking and to share stories.

” You know why we have to do this?” Shouts a female member of a small group.

” It’s ‘cos we’s fucked up by our stints in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’s all military”.

I have no reason to doubt her but resist a strong temptation to join them and hear their stories.

We enjoy the hospitality of our lovely host family for dinner this evening. It is a genuine, generous offer of friendship. We share stories and hear the dreams of the two youngsters in their early twenties who are just starting out into adulthood. We learn how the family has come to be living on a farmstead in Colorado. Much of the pioneer spirit that we have been hearing off on our trip still exists with this family and many others in their situation because it is a tough life and they are very resourceful and resilient. A strong bond of family and support from a church community helps them thrive. It is a memorable and privileged experience.

We take to our bed eventually and can hear the coyotes howling in the distance.

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