February 28, 2006 GMT
Zacatecas - Guanajuanto

On a motorcycle you are much closer to your surroundings: You notice the landscape more intensively and do more intensively perceive impressions like heat, cold, rain or smell. Mexico is the country of roadside smell adventures. Apart from rotting animals and smelly industry of the strangest kinds, you should take a nose of the heavily contaminated rivers or the mexican speciality: Fire.

Apparently they love burning things, e.g. when in Europe (or any other more developed country) the weeds on the roadside are cut or mowed, in Mexico they are burnt. Or even better: As in any other latin amerian country (and most other countries), the roads are lined with (mostly plastic) trash. In Mexico many small towns and villages have one or several semi-official dumps on the roadside near the village where they simply leave their trash building large heaps of it. This gets a lot more enjoyable when they set fire to the trash - the mexican variant of "thermal trash recycling". Anyone passing by is tempted to stop and take a deep breath.

Zacatecas is a beautiful small old city, which became rich due to the close-by silver mine. Especially the huge elegant theater building looks rather inappropriate for a city of this size. The silver was dug out by indigenous slaves aged usually between 12 and 30something (when they died) and made the local spaniards rich. I arrived in the early afternoon and had time for a walk around and a guided visit to the silver mine. The mine is beautifully prepared for visitors, with all kinds of light and sound effects and some art objects on display. It's impressive to see the large cavern that has been the silver vein now dug out. Nowadays there's just 2 of 5 levels accessible, the rest is flooded and the visitors can see the illuminated water deep below their feet.

The next day again I started early and took the extremely boring road thruough the Mexican steppe-like highlands towards Guanajuato (via Aguascalientes and Dolores Hidalgo). For a change there was not a single toll road, the traffic was light and I wasn't stopped at the military checkpoint. No wonder: I went the opposite way than the drugs. However once I took the wrong way which I only reckognized after 40 km when I had to return. Due to the high altitude of some 2000 m , it was surprisingly cold on the road.

Early afternoon I arrived in Guanajuato which turned out to be a spectacular maze of old underground streets, tunnels and alleys. The town is squeezed in between two hills and is real fun to discover on foot - but an absolute horror on motorbike. I got lost completely, driving in circles without finding any of the street names mentioned in my guidebook's plan. Yes, was looking on the right plan. :-) So finally I gave up and chose the next hotel on the way, which was the Alhóndiga. There they let me know that they wouldn't accept motorbikers. A fine example of Mexican hospitality? Luckily next door was another hotel with own garage, where I found a room for the night. After taking a shower I walked through the city and ejoyed the fine views from one of the hills.

Posted by Winne Lichtblau at February 28, 2006 01:47 AM GMT

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