We left Chihuahua last Tuesday on an overnight bus to Zacatecas (see a pattern here?). A beautiful colonial town about 12 hours south of Chihuahua, Zacatecas was the silver mining capital of the world until the 1960s. Zacatecas is in a valley between two mountains and still sits about 3000m. The biggest mountain, La Bufa, has a church at the top as well as some monuments to Mexican Revolutionaries. At that altitude, nothing is an easy climb, especially the four flights of stairs to our room on the top floor of the hostel!
Almost as soon as we arrived in Zacatecas we headed to Eden Mines, the old silver mines of Zacatecas. Although the entire tour was in Spanish (woah!) and we only understood about 20% of what the guide told us and got almost none of the jokes, we had a good time playing with the fake statues and pretending to understand the tour. The Mines also have the unique feature of hosting a disco club at night… a little strange, but if it wasn’t so expensive to get in at night we may have come just to see it!
Tuesday we also made a trip to see (and use the bathroom of) the Quinta Real Hotel which is actually built into Zacateca’s old bullfighting ring. We couldn’t afford to stay there ($300 USD/night!) but we headed in for some pictures of the bull ring, where Danny played the part of the bull. We spent the afternoon at a meticulously manicured city park entertained by dancing fountains just like at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeee Gaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssss! Around dawn the next morning we were awakened by carnival music and eeeeeee gaaaassss. What on earth? Falling back asleep, we groaned as it happened again and again throughout the morning, until finally we got up. In the US we have trash collection in the morning, it makes a lot of noise, but its brief and moves down the street quickly. In Zacatecas they have early morning natural gas sales…seriously. We learned that a few years ago another guest of the hostel wrote the city council requesting that the gas salesman not be allowed to sell gas at such an hour. I guess it worked for a few years and he didn’t come by before 7am, but it seems that the restrictions are now over and Zacatecas will probably win the award for the most unique and most annoying alarm clock, Eeeeeee Gaaaaaassssss!
Thursday we took a hike with some people from the hostel up to the top of La Bufa. The views were incredible, but even better was the fact we were able to stretch our legs and do some climbing (actual rock climbing with our hands) and hiking. Later we headed down to the mask museum, where Danny, who has decided he wants a collection of masks from around the world to adorn his future “man cave”, bought our first souvenir.
I realize that we’re in Mexico and we haven’t really talked about food. Its been absolutely delicious, but having mexican every breakfast, lunch and dinner (nothing like chilis or hot salsa for breakfast, who needs coffee?) wears away your taste buds. Our first night in Zacatecas, our Swiss friend Severine, who is a chef, lead a dinner crew in the kitchen. Our meal consisted of delicious guacamole, a salad with nopalitas and pasta primavera. Wait you ask, what are nopalitas? Glad you asked and no its not an insect. We’re saving those delicacies for Oaxaca. Nopalitas are an edible species of cactus common throughout Mexico. They have a tart taste, but to be honest we most enjoyed playing with the salad as nopalitas have the consistency of ecto-slime.
Before leaving Zacatecas with another overnight bus ride to Valles, we first partook in the obligatory margarita night the Hostel hosts each Thursday. I don’t think there is much need for explanation about margarita night… lets just say that it was great way to top off our time in a great little town.