November 20, 2010 GMT
Mexico - Zacatecas

Arriving in Zacatecas during the afternoon rush hour was complicated enough but the road Garmin wanted me to take was closed off by the police because of an accident causing us to continue in the wrong direction for a couple of miles. As I closed in on the city centre again the narrow, hilly cobbled streets were mainly one way. Garmin was either unaware of this or trying to kill me as on several occasions I was prompted to ride into the oncoming traffic. Eventually we were only a short distance away from the Hostel Don David that we were heading for when Garmin suggested I continued straight ahead up a flight of steep steps to arrive at my destination. I opted to overrule Garmin yet again and rode around the block to park outside the hostel.

001 Zacatecas GPS Wanted Me To Ride Up Here 1st Oct 2010.jpg
The GPS Wanted Me To Ride Up Here To My Destination

I initially booked to stay in Zacatecas for a week but liked the town and the Hostel Don David so decided to stay an additional month to allow a new cash point / ATM card to be forwarded onto me from the UK. I had switched UK banks to Lloyds TSB prior to setting off on my trip because the local branch assured me they would ensure I had no problems using my credit and debit cards overseas. Sadly for whatever reason the debit / ATM card has been blocked by “security” every thirty days which involves a very long, very expensive phone call to a call centre in the UK to get the card reinstated. Initially I had my credit card stopped and was “fined” for not making payments when the bank failed to use the direct debit set up with them to pay the bill each month. I have now ordered a pre payment travel card from Caxton which I am hoping will allow me hassle free access to my money.

065 Hostal Don David Nov 16th 2010.jpg
My New Home - Hostal Don David, Zacatecas

Another reason for staying in one place for a while is to allow some infected mosquito bites I picked up on my last day in Texas to heal. The bites were aggravated by wearing boots for riding the bike or walking so hopefully staying in Zacatecas for a while will give them a chance to heal. I went to a doctor, a luxury I couldn’t afford in the United States who prescribed some tablets and a course of seven daily ‘shark liver’ injections. The doctors consultation and prescription cost $2 and the tablets which turned out to be vitamin A and D supplements were $1.25. I was a bit sceptical about the ‘shark liver’ injections but when I went on the internet it turned out that shark liver is one of the best sources of Omega 3 which boosts the immune system. I reported to the hospital I was told to go to for the injections but was redirected to another hospital 25 miles away and decided that I would aggravate the bites more travelling to and from the hospital than any benefit gained from the injections. Instead I put myself on a high Omega 3 diet. Four of the seven bites have now healed so hopefully time and more tinned tuna and salmon will fix the remaining bites.

008 Zacatecas Cathedral 5th Oct 2010.jpg
Zacatecas Cathedral

Zacatecas is obviously on the main Pan American route. I had only met two foreign bike riders since starting my trip in March 2009, a German in Canada who had ridden across Russia on the road of bones and a New Zealand couple in Creel, Mexico who had ridden from Alaska. In Zacatecas European registered bikes along with a number from the USA are coming and going all the time.

061 Zacatecas 10th Nov 2010_cr.jpg

An annual Mexican car rally, the ‘La Carrera Pan Americana’ which normally runs through the country from Tuxtla Gutierrez in the south up to Nuevo Laredo on the Texan border was finishing in Zacatecas this year due to the drug gang border wars further north. Rigo my landlord, an avid car fanatic and I went to see the cars and four competing motorcycles cross the finish line. Rigo led the way through the barriers right up to the official finish line amongst the TV and press photographers so that we got soaked when second place driver Michel Jourdain Sr. sprayed his champagne. Check out the rally website

030 Mexican Rally 2nd Place 28th Oct 2010-1.jpg
After Three Years Of Competing In Motorsport This Is The First Time I Got Wet From Champagne

029 Mexican Rally Winners 28th Oct 2010.jpg
Winner Harri Rovanpera

That evening a street party took place amongst all the parked rally cars in front of the cathedral with Tamborazo bands playing and mescal being served from large jars on the backs of donkeys. The Tamborazo bands tend to play enthusiastically rather than musically moving from street to street playing all the while. When two Tamborazo bands meet they play louder and compete against each other rather than harmonise. It’s a great atmosphere though, as soon as the band stops walking a circle of spectators quickly forms and dancing commences.

026 Mexican Rally Rigo 28th Oct 2010.jpg
Rigo Temporarily Forgetting He's A Happily Married Man!

Zacatecas was the scene of one of the most decisive battles in the Mexican Revolution in June 1914. With the federal army holding the high ground of La Bufa and El Grillo, two hills on the outskirts of the town. Pancho Villa, the revolutionary leader and his 20,000 Division Of The North troops bombarded the hill tops with heavy artillery. El Grillo was quickly taken as smoke from the artillery bombardment concealed the elite revolutionary forces advance. La Bufa was captured later the same day with the federal troops retreating into the town as the officers discarded their uniforms knowing that all captured officers would be executed. A federal colonel detonated the arsenal killing himself along with dozens of revolutionary soldiers and destroying a city block. This enraged Pancho Villa’s forces on the hills who started raining gunfire down into the town. As the federal forces were fleeing the town they were pursued by the revolutionary cavalry which slaughtered them as they ran. During this retreat towards neighbouring Guadalupe the federal troops ran into 7000 fresh revolutionary troops blocking their path who completed the massacre leaving piles of federal corpses by the roadside. Surviving federal officers were summarily executed and enlisted men given the choice, join Pancho Villa or die. Not a hard decision to make I wouldn’t have thought. Well over 6000 federal troops were killed in this one battle.

018 La Bufa Francisco Villa 23rd Oct 2010.jpg
Pancho Villa

In October the week long Festival Internacional De Teatro De Calle (International Festival Of Street Theatre) was held with usually three different performances each evening at the numerous Zacatecas Plazas. The Festival opened with the local opera and dance companies which included my landlady Violeta combining to perform a history of Mexico which I thoroughly enjoyed. The six year invasion by France (1861 To 1867) was covered by a lone actor nervously walking on stage humming the French national anthem and being chased straight back off by the Mexicans! The most moving part was a fairly recent film screened onto the stage backdrop of a 103 year old man being interviewed then singing a patriotic Mexican Revolution song. He had obviously lived through the revolution although whether as a child or soldier my limited Spanish was unable to detect.

012 Zacatecas Cathedral Plaza Teatro 15th Oct 2010.jpg
Festival Of Street Theatre

The finale of the Festival was a performance of Romeo y Julieta in Spanish by an Italian theatre company in the Plaza De Armas with the Cathedral making a stunning stage backdrop. In this version the star cross’d lovers are reunited after death and live(?) happily ever after which had me going to my temporary home with a warm glow although I did wonder whether Shakespeare would approve of someone tinkering with his immortal script.

059 Zacatecas Plaza La Bufa 7th Nov 2010.jpg
Plaza With La Bufa Hill In Background

The number of free events in Mexico is amazing. There are regular free concerts and performances in the open air plazas and here in Zacatecas in the indoor Casa Municipal de Cultura. Last Saturday evening I wandered between an outdoor rock concert and a traditional Mexican dance performance followed by two guys singing and playing acoustic guitars which can be best described as the Mexican Simon and Garfunkel performing in the Casa Municipal de Cultura.

067 Zacatecas Cathedral Head 17th Nov 2010.jpg
Giant Head In Front Of Zacatecas Cathedral

Posted by at November 20, 2010 03:32 AM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!