December 22, 2004

Happy Holidays to All.

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo, a todo.
Here a few new posts to last through the holidays. We are back in the states now, enjoying Christmas with the Goddards. Cheers to all.
Dan and Rachel.

December 19, 2004

Friday evening we were reading up on the campgrounds in Torreón and Saltillo, which we were planning on staying at in the coming days. Neither place sounded very nice, or very interesting. Dan was glancing over our trusty AAA México map when his keen grasp on mathematics lead him to announce that Zacatecas would only add an hour per day to our driving time. Zacatecas was a city I had been sad to miss and factored heavily in our decision to take the Espanoza del Diablo road. I had wrongly assumed that it was an either/ or scenario. But we have a standing 100 mile rule. If something or someone we want to see is within 100 miles we are permitted to detour.

It is as such that I write this from the grand city of Zacatecas. I am so glad we made the decision to come here as this city is vastly different from the other parts of México we have visited. Zacatecas is a true Colonial Méxican city. It is steeped in history and has a very cosmopolitan feel.

The Cathedral, acoording to our Lonley Planet guide, is "the ultimate expression of Mexican baroque.

We camped right above the town at the Hotel de Bosque which has a fantastic view albiet a frustrating location. From the hotel you can see everywhere you want to go. The arial tram, to the mountain overlooking the city, is literally next door. Zacatecas, however, is a city of walls. The walls around the Teléferico (tram) and our hotel make it impossible to get to it by any way other than a half-mile walk around.

The El Cubo aqueduct.

Saturday we made camp around 2pm and then ventured into the city. We spent the entire day sightseeing. There are so many historical sights to see that you need more time than we had. We managed to see most of the area around the Cathedral and then ventured up to the Quinta Real Zacatecas. This place is maybe the coolest hotel I have ever seen, and if I had money I would be writing this from there. The hotel is built in the ruins of the Plaza de Toros San Padro, the bullring. The rooms are mixed in among the old bleachers; the bar is in the bull chutes. If anyone reading this has been wondering where to go for a fantastic vacation, might I suggest this city and this hotel. I made Dan promise to bring me back.

The concierge at Quinta Real was a delightful woman who gave us a much needed map of the city and recommended a restaurant for dinner. Her recommendation was right on and we feasted on the local specialties of Carne Adovada and Soupa Azteca. Dan got so caught up in the romance of the city that he even bought me flowers while I was away in el baño, this is greatly out of character for my beloved, and much appreciated by me. After dinner we got to see the city at night. What a sight!!! All of the historical buildings are lit up, as is La Bufa, the hill and church overlooking the city. If it is possible Zacatecas is even more beautiful at night.

This morning we rode the teléferico to La Bufa, but much to our dismay the entire hill was shrouded in fog. We toured the church, shops and museum and then walked down La Bufa back to the city center. Walking the streets of Zacatecas feels like you are in Spain. The streets are cobblestone and extremely narrow. Houses run flush with the streets, smooth, colorful walls broken up by ancient looking wooden gates. Taxis wiz past knowing which of the seemingly impassibly steep and narrow roads will get them to their destinations.

One of the very narrow streets.

Statue of Poncho Villa

Ruins of the Convento de San Fransisco.

Overall Zacatecas is not to be missed. It stands out from all of the other cities we have visited. Again we were the only gringos on the streets but we were welcomed bu all we met and greeted in English by many Mexican/ Americans who are here for the holidays. The city is riddled with cafés and coffee shops. The people are sophisticated and formal. We had a hard time re-adjusting to using the Usted form of Spanish, the formal form, and managed to butcher the language even more than normal.

I warn you...I went a bit door crazy.

This building is not painted, that is the real color of the stone used to build it.

We toured a few more churches and then decided to call it a day. Tonight we are camped on the outskirts of town at the Hacienda del Bosque. Tomorrow, assuming we stick to our plan we head for Saltillo and our noche final en México.


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