Part Twenty: Zacatecas – The Colonial Heartland


17th January (Durango – Vicente Guerrero) (85km)

Was terribly sad to be leaving Durango. The days here right on the central square in a lovely hotel have been rejuvenating. The city itself is such a lively place and has a youthful energy and sophistication of a college town in a great setting. To put the icing on the cake I found a bike shop with gloves that fit me. Was then brilliant enough to head out of town with no water under the mistaken assumption that there would be water along the way. There was not. Not until 55km down the road at least, by which time I had successfully dehydrated. You really can’t play catch up when it comes to such matters so once I got to the town of Vicente Guerrero and the next 45km was mostly up hill to Sobremete, it was all too much to contemplate so called it a day.

 18th January (Vicente Guerrero – Fresnillo) (151km)

Sometimes lessons need to be learned, unlearned and then learned again. One needs to fuel up adequately during the day because if you don’t, oddly, you run the very real risk of running out of juice in the afternoon. Today’s ride was compounded by the kilometre estimate being just 7km out and after the 144 km that it should have been, there was just no energy left in the tank for the remaining (bonus) 7km into Fresnillo.

I had Taco-ed up adequately at breakfast, and then headed up the hill to Sobremete which turned out to be a relatively easy climb. Sobremente is one of the few towns in Mexico where the number of churches exceeds the number of shoe shops. Just why it is that there are an inordinately large number of shoe shops in this country will have to remain a mystery. The locals don’t seem to think that it is strange that every third shop sells shoes so what the hell.

Sobremente

Across from the central cathedral you can pick up the necessary figurines. Just in case you are not sure who the forces of good are up against, the diablo figures go for a very reasonable 45 pesos (US$3) (refer photo).

On reaching Fresnillo, I went in search of food. Had I an appetite for shoe leather then I would have been very well catered for. Regrettably this was not the case and I eventually had to resort to tacos again. There seemed to be a dearth of restaurants in the centre of town: the restauranteurs  obviously having gone and opened shoe shops.

Diablo 45 Pesoes

 

19th January (Fresnillo – Zacatacas) (60km)

20th – 21st January (Zacatacas)*

Arrival Zacatecas

This city deserves a post all to itself as it is a truly marvellous city. It’s puzzling that it is not more touristed. Perhaps it is the off-season but the guidebook says that it is ‘off the tourist trail’. Perhaps it is a marketing thing. The name might have too many pointy sounds to be able to sell properly. The city burghers might consider a name change (throwing off 500 years of history) in favour of Zacvegas or Acazacas?  Perhaps not. It has more than enough colonial architecture that one can reasonably be expected to walk around and photograph and the feel of the city is relaxed and friendly. When I’m looking for a book someone escorts me to a shop where I can buy what I need.

Zacatecas Shop Fronts
Irresistible Charm
Zacatecas Hillside

The amulet for the day is from the Museo Zacatecas, titled ‘Perhaps I over did the mezcal last night’ (refer photo).

Zacatecas local mask

I particularly enjoy the ‘run for your life’ pedestrian signals (note the stately stroll of the little green figure which progressively turns into a jog then a sprint as the time expires (refer video).

Three Amigos

The Villa Colonial Hostel is a charming place and the manager/host ‘Aniese’ is a great guy who puts himself out to look after the guests. The view out of the top floor room is (again) out over the Historico Centro’ Cathedral so am lucky again. Thursday is Margarita night and this results in the wearing of appropriately silly hats with a friendly bunch off local university students who all lob in to take advantage of the US$2 all-you-can-drink bottomless bucket of margarita.

Understandably some of the local ladies find the charms of your ever self-effacing correspondent utterly irresistible, particularly when he is sporting the local headwear (refer photo). From there on the night gets progressively more vague and culminates in a nightclub somewhere up until the late hours. Best to factor another day for recovery.

Zacatecas Corner
Zacatecas
View of Zacatecas from hotel room

On the road to Aquascalimentes was lucky enough to see the transporting of two truck loads of dinosaurs (refer photo and video). This was particularly fortuitous as it is a very rare thing indeed to see a female T-Rex captured along with a Raptor and Centrosaurus.

Zoologist - Dr Franz Bekleckersofa

It was a German zoologist (Dr Franz Bekleckersofa)* who in the 1920’s first identified the local pod of Tyrannosaurus-Rex, hidden away in caves and abandoned silver mines south of Zacatecas, only coming out occasionally to graze on local mariachis, thereby becoming the scourge of the local musical fraternity.

T-Rex on Truck

According to the driver of the truck, these particular specimens were caught when a brave group of mariachis volunteered to got into a local field and play La Cucaracha over and over until the dinosaurs emerged from hiding to bite their heads off (only one guitarrón player surviving to tell the tale). The reptiles were then tranquilized and were being transported to a fun park for children to play with.

Mariarchis in field waiting to be eaten
Aquascalientes Cathedral

On arrival in Aquascalientes, I tried to do a piece to camera with very mixed results (refer video). More practice required me thinks. Unfortunately, while sporting a very lovely central square and obligatory grand cathedral, the place seems to reek of well…poo in more than a few places so perhaps the warm subterranean waters are playing havoc with the plumbing. Sorry town but there it is.

*[appropriate apologies to the late great Frank Zappa “Aber beklecker nicht das Sofa, Sofa!“]

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