July 01, 2009 GMT
Durango to Guadalajara

Our next stop was Durango, another beautiful Cathedral and Plaza, another bustling market, but without the vivacity of Mazatlan.durango.jpg I was eager to move on, as was Jacquie, so we stayed one night before hitting the road once more for Zacatecas.
Zacatecas is a gorgeous colonial town, a Basque minor found silver in the 16th century and the town grew. The Basque settlers made their mark with French buildings side by side with Spanish Cathedrals. Finding our hotel was a task and a half. Manoeuvring the Harley down the steep, narrow winding streets, with my GPS trying to send us the wrong way down one-way streets. We went round and round the same street until finally a local led us to it in his car.
A major difference here was the large numbers of fairer skinned European looking locals, as well as the Creperies, cafes, and bakeries side by side with Taco stands and Gordita shops.zacatecas.jpg We took the cable car up to La Bufa, at the entrance to the old mine-which now is home to a nightclub deep underground. The cable car took us over the myriad of rooftops and was high enough to make our knees weak. cazatecas.jpg
Getting out at the top after the ride on the cable car we were greeted by the sight of three enormous statue of Zapata and his revolutionary comrades on horse back , and a photographer willing to wrap an ammunition belt over your shoulders and take polaroids of you behind a tripod mounted machine gun, which we declined.
The views over the city were sublime, a hodge podge of rooftops and alleyways, interdispersed with grand Cathedrals and museums.
We returned on foot to our hostel and sat on the rooftop balcony chatting with the other residents, a couple of German guys, just back from Real de Catorce, and pair if French girls down from Monterrey, a Canadian couple recovering from excessive Mosquito bites in San Blas, and another couple of French guys on the hunt for marijuana, all swapping tales of where we had been and where we were going.
We spent another couple of days wondering the street, checking out the markets, and trying local dishes before getting back on the bike and heading south to Guadalajara.
We took a side trip on the way down to La Quemada, an archeolgical side on the road south.
La Quemada was our first experience of one of the many pre Hispanic ruins the are found all over México, and it was magnificent. quaemada.jpg
We had the site practically to ourselves, and took the opportunity to climb and clamber all over the ancient city. climbin.jpgUp pyramids, across the playing fields, along alleyways. It took my breath away. I left Jacquie halfway up and continued alone to the highest point, following tracks and trails that were centuries old. The heat was intense, but the scenery was spectacular and I pushed onwards and upwards until there was nowhere to go but back down.lookout.jpg
The experience was one I will never forget, and I wished I could have stayed longer, but once again , the road was calling, we still had hundreds of miles to do that day so we descended to the base, mounted our iron steed, and rode off in the direction of our rest stop at Aguas Calientes.qguas.jpg
We weren’t expecting much from Aguas Calientes, other that a room for the night and a place to rest , but once again the colonial city, in its usual format of Catherdrals, Plazas and Avenues was a joy.
Again , there was music playing everywhere, a buzzing vibrancy filled the streets and we had to walk around the town on the evening of our arrival and once more on the morning of our departure, to get a feel for the city if nothing more. The leafy plaza was cool and shaded, and the Cathedral was a work of art, the more we travelled through Mexico , the more of the equisite edifices we came across, it seemed that even the smallest hamlets had a magnificent Church or Cathedral at its core. The Spanish missions were nothing if not diligent.
Jacquie had read about the town of San Juan de Los Lagos, and deemed it worthy of a final stop on route to Guadalajara, so the next morning we pointed the bike south east and rode off. San Juan de Loa Lagos is one of the most important towns to religious Catholics, and many make pilgrimages there each year, usually walking there, even from as far away from Zacatecas-a six day walk.nuva cafedral.jpg
On arrival, the devoted then make their way down the 100 foot aisle on their knees to show their …well to be honest, I am not sure what they are showing. We watched this spectacle, as young and old alike made their way down the aisle, some in tears, some beaming, some moving quickly, and some taking a very, very long time. Outside the Cathedral, another beautiful structure, hoards of street vendors were selling religious artefacts, ranging from pendants and bracelets, to life-size Jesuses on donkeys to the pilgrims and visitors to the town in a most irreligious way.donkey.jpgguitar.jpg We avoided the vendors and returned to the bike, anxious to be on our way once more.

Posted by Dan Shell at July 01, 2009 02:36 AM GMT

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