Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Durango to Zacatecas

We'll do another bit of time-traveling, and fill in the trip between Durango to Zacatecas. The road was a relative superhighway with no Espinoza del Diablo and daylight. There were small roadside vendors set up along the way, and this gentleman's rickety stand filled with baskets attracted our attention. We bought two baskets and he proudly posed for a photo.

We started seeing prickly pear cactus growing in all sorts and forms: small shrubs, tall trees and cultivated patches covered with nets. We have subsequently learned that as a culinary crop
they are called nopali. The pads are sold either "as is" or de-spined and smoothed. In the markets in San Miguel we also saw women cutting them into narrow slices and bagging it for resale. It is used in numerous Mexican recipes and is apparently very valuable for its nutritional properties.
We arrived in Zacatecas mid-afternoon and found our hotel without too much difficulty. No, the photo above is not our hotel. However, our couple-star hotel complex did "occupy" an entire hillside, had 244 rooms, 56 apartments, who knows how many suites, a restaurant, gymnasium, beauty shop, entire road system, and only about 10 occupants total (including us). And, not one blade of grass. Zacatecas sits at about 8,000 feet elevation.
After getting settled in, and watching Mexican TV for awhile, we took a taxi to el centro for dinner at the Acropolis. Zacatecas is one of the "silver cities" in colonial Mexico, founded in 1546. The architecture, the Churrigueresque style similar to that we saw in Durango, is profoundly evident in the three-tiered facade of the cathedral.

Apostles, angels, flowers and fruit adorn the pillars, pedastals, columns and niches in a rather exuberant excess---that's from our guidebook. It was almost like a "Where's Waldo" looking at it, to my untrained eye.

The cathedral was constructed between 1730 and 1775. We did not go inside the cathedral, but our guidebook indicates that the exterior contrasts with the interior in that all of the treasures were lost during the turmoils in Mexico, the Reforma and the later Revolution.

I am assuming that the grandiose architecture in Zacatecas must be representative of a lifestyle that was present at one time during the age of silver. The number of remarkable Baroque limestone buildings speak for themselves.


Peggy said...

Beautiful catherdral.

Anonymous said...

Mexico sure looks lovely through your lens! I remember that road from Mazatlan to Durango being EXACTLY as you describe it, the scariest ride of my life for sure. We were going from Durango to Maz so downhill with huge trucks passing us, it was so scary! I also remember being in Zacatecas while there was a funeral procession marching through the town, all the women in black with lace on their heads.
Thanks for the great pics, I love the faces and the facades both speak volumes.