Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ghost Towns, Independence and Tequila Ice Cream

We took a road trip yesterday to explore a couple towns generally north of San Miguel, Mineral de Pozos and Dolores Hidalgo. Pozos is more-or-less considered a ghost town of about 2,000 people today, reduced from its former status as a thriving silver city. The ratio of unoccupied to occupied buildings may be 30 to 1, or more. I commented that it is probably the "next" San Miguel and now is the time to start picking up those fixer-uppers, such as the one above (which is for sale). Doug didn't bite.

There are a couple restaurants, artisan shops or galleries, a mini-super market and vestiges of two once-splendid town plazas. An old church and this government building, both abandoned, spoke of a time when the economy was different. Our guidebook indicated that the old silver mines above the city are ideal for picnicking. But if you "go by yourself, be careful...some shafts are unguarded and easy to stumble into if you're not paying attention." We opted to eat elsewhere and more safely.

This horse was tied up outside the mini-super market on the main drag. Just as we were heading into the sunset, this caballero appeared and saddled up.

We made our way over to Dolores Hildalgo, a town famous for three important factors: birthplace of Mexican independence (el Grito); ice cream; and talavera tile. Putting history before eating or art, on September 15, 1810, Miguel Hildalgo, the local priest is said to have launched Mexico's fight for independence with the passionate call to arms "el Grito". There is a very prominent statute of him in the plaza principal, with arm raised in his cry.

As we wandered around the plaza, we noticed that every, and I don't mean just almost every, vendor cart was selling "Nieves el Rico". As best I can interpret this, it means something like "rich snow" or as we know it in the USA, ice cream. But this is no ordinary ice cream, at least some of it. The flavors they sell are unreal, bizarre, preposterous. Yes, they do have vanilla and chocolate for the timid, but who wouldn't want a tequila, shrimp or corn on the cob ice cream cone? Doug, for one.

I opted to be 50% daring: pistache on the top, elote (corn on the cob) on the bottom. Yummy and a suprisingly good combination. Doug had vanilla and chocolate, so I didn't include a photo.

While we were having our actual lunch, after dessert, these two young ladies were able to talk Doug into buying a $10 peso winning raffle ticket for some unknown prize. He had to write down specifics, including our phone number (which he had to get off of Fergus' collar), onto their clipboard, so we know it was surely on the up-and-up. Today we suddenly have four messages on the cell phone that we are unable to retrieve because we can't understand the rapid Spanish instructions, but I'm sure it is to tell us that we have won 1st prize and where to come to claim it.

I poked my head into a few talavera tile shops, but the one that looked most fascinating was behind a rickety chicken wire fence...and closed. Dust was thick. All the other stores were very glitzy with salespeople that wanted your attention the minute you walked in. I was disappointed that the rickety chicken wire place wasn't open, as it had good scrounging potential.

The cry for independence, ice cream, and talavera tile: that about sums up our toe dip into Dolores Hidalgo. I'm not sure what this woman was intently doing, but it appeared to be putting cut pieces of colored paper into a bottle???? But for what purpose? An Hidalgo mystery.


Anonymous said...

Get an interpreter to tell you how you won in the could be secretly wealthy! HA!

Take care. Luke

Peggy said...

You are brave. The color of that pistache nieves el rico is a bit curious. Wonderful pictures. I love the color on those arches (orange and pink) the abandoned buildings are so interesting. I can't help but fantasize about the great watercolor journal page they would make. Where would I start? Maybe with those arches and the window above with the vertical bars. Where would I sit? Is there any shade nearby?

Anonymous said...

Forward that message to me and I'll translate, if you won I'll only take 50%.