Good, great, grand Zacatecas (no yelling on the bus)…

September 12, 2010

After another great morning of dirty dirt riding and dodging kind offers for us to “stay and eat and rest” in the small town of El Maguey, we arrived into the hustle and bustle of the Zacatecas downtown in the late afternoon.  The city is built up on high ground, spreading out beautifully over the hilltops and spilling into the valley situated between.  The ride in was a slap in the face of big city highways and traffic, but we maneuvered just fine.  The Spanish influence and colonization is overwhelmingly present and could be felt immediately (and literally) as we bounced down the cobblestone streets heading for el centro.  Our game plan was to take the afternoon to explore the city, scout out some of the bigger attractions and head out just as it was getting dark to camp outside the city limits.  In our experience, we’ve found that most empty lots, whether abandoned or the sites of things being constructed, are excellent camp spaces…as long as you don’t mind some lights and the noise of careening highway traffic fairly nearby.  You can’t beat the price, the location is usually pretty close to where you want to be in the morning and most times they have a friendly night watchman who is happy to have you.

A brief overview of this great, grand and beautiful city…. Zacatecas is the eye-catching result of some serious amount of silver nearby and the Spaniard greed to extract it all.  Filled with cathedrals, plazas and museums, you can’t help but feel you are somewhere in Europe.  The indigenous folk of Zacatecas, refered to as Zacatecos, mined different mineral deposits for years prior to the Spanish invasion in 1548.  After that, they were enslaved for centuries as the Spaniards shipped load after load of silver off to Mexico city, hence building the wealth allowing for all of those fancy cathedrals and plazas.  The flow of silver slowed in the 19th century due to the political instability and revolutionary types behind them.  Enter Pancho Villa.  In 1914, along with Felipe Angeles, Villa defeated 12,000 soldiers loyal to the then president Victoriano Huerta, thus reclaiming Zacatecas, which was crucial as it was the gateway to Mexico City.  As political stability returned, though it was many more years for this to be, the silver mines did start up again and there is still one active one just outside the city.

Knowing we were going to stay in the city for a day or two, I arranged for some packages to be shipped to a hostel there.  The hostel, Villa Colonial, is smack dab in the middle of the city and after seeing the amazing rooftop view and meeting the friendly owner Ernesto, we decided to stash the bikes here and explore the city on foot, a bit of a luxury in a way.  I am proud to say I even spent a night salsa dancing my flip-flops right off my feet and challenging Ernesto, his brother and their friends to game after game of fuseball, where I managed to stay in the plus (and the Margaritas) for the remainder of the night.   The night ended with them taking me to the best taco stall in all of the city, very reminiscent to getting pizza in NY before heading back across the bridge.

September is prime festival time (Feria de Zacatecas), and this year Zacatecas was celebrating it’s bicentennial by doing things up in a grand way.  Everywhere we looked there were organized, as well as impromptu, performances, parades, fairs and celebrations.  For the next three days we settled comfortably into the city enjoying everything it had to offer.

Approaching the city on a hill...

Concrete jungle here we come...

Entering the city, trying to make it as quick and painless as possible. We got a lot of honks. I'm going to think they were all great big welcomes...

Museum...

One of the many streets...

Mexican mountains = silver = spanish invasion = elaborate churches and plazas everywhere. This is the Cathedral. Built between 1729 and 1752, the detailed carvings have been interpreted as a giant symbol of the tabernacle...

Striking resemblance...

Celebrating to the beat...

...and honking...

...and honking...

...and honking. We learned each day of the three week festival is designated to a different essential operation, and they celebrate individually by getting together (today was Friday and the day for taxi drivers) and driving in a caravan from La Bufa to the fair grounds, swerving, honking and throwing candy out the windows...

Mustachios for sale...

A little self-portrait. In front of me was the Plazuela Francisco Goitia, which is used as an amphitheater for street performances...

It was great fun to explore all of the shops nestled into the tiny streets snaking everywhere. They were intimately adorned with a whole assortment of things we really have no use for at this time...

One of the many picturesque and worn streets...

Kurt getting off his shift from the mine...

A long way down...

Viva La Revolution!...

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One Response to “Good, great, grand Zacatecas (no yelling on the bus)…”

  1. toni benevento said

    Olè! seems like you hit up ztown at exactly the right time I’m hoping you purchased a mustache at least so exciting to read your updates where’s the next place you can receive mail and any requests? Love you

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