• Feb
    27

    A Visit to Zacatecas: Part 1

     

    I arrived in Zacatecas at around 8:00pm on Monday and I got a taxi to take me to the hotel (La Casona De Los Vitrales). Rooms were a great deal on Hotels.com, only $50.00USD/night.

    One thing that immediately impressed me was the architecture of this place. The second thing that got my attention – hardly any cobblestones at all.

    Most of the streets and sidewalks are created with these flat square stones that seem to be everywhere, on the sidewalks and on the streets. One size fits all. The next surprise was my hotel. Only one word describes it – beautiful.

    mexico zacatecas La Cason De Los Vitrales

    The entranceway to the hotel, as seen the next morning.

    mexico zacatecas La Casona De Los Vitrales

    The street in front of my hotel

    mexico zacatecas La casona de los vitrales

    My new digs. As you can see, this is a really nice room. It has some doors that overlook a small balcony, but there’s no view to speak of, except the building across the courtyard, about 8-10 feet away.

    mexico zacatecas La Casona De Los Vitrales

    The lobby of the hotel. This is where I hung out waiting for Fernando. In this next section you’ll see some of the sights of this place. It’s quite beautiful. However, I ran into a couple of issues almost immediately. One was a headache that wouldn’t go away, the other thing – shortness of breath.

    Zacatecas, as I just found out, 8,000 feet above sea level. For the past couple of days I’ve had trouble breathing, mostly after walking around. Even a little exertion will create a shortness of breath. It’s a strange feeling. To feel better, I have to slow down, get something to drink and eventually the feeling passes.

    Another issue is congestion, which is rare for me. I’m not sure if it’s caused by the altitude or the dryness. Noticing that I feel a bit “off,” I did an Internet search for alititude issues and found this site. From what I can see, I’m feeling a mild form of altitude sickness. According to the article, this will pass in 2-4 days.

    mexico zacatecas

    Some of the places around Zacatecas. This view was from inside a museum.

    mexico zacatecas cathedral

    A huge church/cathedral, not too far from where I’m staying. Most of the places we’re going to are easily accessible on foot.

    mexico zacatecas cathedral doors

    For those of you how love doors, here’s some closeup detail.

    mexico zacatecas church detail

    Closeup detail of the church above.

    mexico zacatecase downtown

     

    Walking through the courtyard of a hotel only a few steps away from my hotel. Taking this route is a shortcut to a place where I met Blanca later for coffee. Fernando joined us as well. I’ll get to that later on in this post. 

    mexico zacatecas downtown

    The next few shots will show different areas of downtown, so you can get a feeling for the place.

    mexico zacatecas downtown

     

    mexico zacatecas downtown

     

    mexico zacatecas downtown

    One of the things that was immediately obvious is that the city is built next and around a number of hills. As a result, you’ll have a lot of climbing to do.

    mexico zacatecas downtown

    On our way to an ice cream parlor.

    mexico zacatecas fernando ice cream

    Ice cream and the camera shy Fernando. The place we went to is called “RasPanieve” and has been a tradition in both the city of Zacatecas and Jerez. According to the flyer, Raspanieve is a delicious dessert that was invented by Angelita Valdes and Pablo Torres when they opened their new ice-cream shop El Paraiso in the city of Jerez., Zac., in December of 1940.

    The name Raspanieve was used because it combines fruit and crushed ice with ice-cream. One thing to note is that all their products are made with special attention to hygiene and use only 100% natural ingredients. No glucose, chemical stablizers, food coloring, preservatives or other chemical ingredients are used. The end result? A tasty and refreshing dessert.

    mexico zacatecas downtown arch

     

    mexico zacatecas museum scale

    A sense of scale. Notice how small I seem to be in comparison to the structure around me. On this day (Tuesday, Feb. 26), we went around to several museums. Two were closed, but one was open and we spent a long time looking at the contents.

    I’m absolutely stunned by the beauty of this city. In this museum we saw works by Dali, Goya, Picasso, and many other artists whose names I cannot recall.

    We saw examples of modern art, statues of the Buddha, various types of masks, and an odd type of clay sculpture that I’d read about in one of my guide books. The sculpture, known as “The Colima Dog,” is an engaging type of statue of red baked clay in a variety of poses.

    They’ve been unearthed all over Mexico, but have mostly been found around Colima state. The real name for these dogs is Xoloitzcuintles. They were created from A.D 200-900 and were based on the dogs of pre-hispanic Mexico. You can read more about them here.

    mexico zacatecas musem

    A courtyard from inside a museum.

    mexico zacatecas museum

    The outside area of another museum. You’ll see more detail of the building next to this open area in the next shot.

    mexico zacatecas museum of modern art and former women's prison

    The exterior of a museum of modern art. Unfortunately it was closed. This building also had a darker history at one point as it was used as a women’s prison.

    mexico zacatecas clowning around with Fernando and Blanca

    The end of an interesting day, clowining around with Fernando and Blanca at a restaurant downtown. For those of you who don’t know much about how this all came about, Fernando and Blanca came to Victoria last summer to study English.

    They were directed by a woman I know in my conversational Spanish group to come to our meeting. Over time we developed a friendship and many of us in the group benefitted by Fernando’s and Blanca’s help with learning the language. When they both returned to Zacatecas, Fernando invited all of us to come and visit. I’m the first one of our group so far.

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