Travelogue Spring Break 2011, Day 6, Holy/Maundy Thursday: Zacatecas

The kids slept in again this morning, so Greg and I took a walk around the Centro Histórico and found a nice little crepería, “Magic Kreep.” They made the most perfect cup of cappuccino. And, you know, in Guanajuato and now here, too, they have cappuccino everywhere, and it’s 20 pesos or so. Can’t Mazatlán do that? We enjoyed reading the paper and having some adult time.

Today was Danny’s day to be tour guide, and he wasn’t feeling so well. Seems he’s fighting a cold or something—body aches. But, he did a good job guiding us around today, first to the Artisan Market that is in the former “González Ortega” public market. The building, as most of them here in Zacatecas, is gorgeous. Inside are little kiosk-like stalls with loads of pewter, silver and gold jewelry, leather ware, charería clothing and accessories and knick-knacks.

From the market Danny had us walk over to the Pedro Coronel Museum, as I was really excited to see the Dalís, Mirós, Picassos, Chagals, Degases… and also to show such terrific international caliber art to the kids. It is unreal to me to have such incredible caliber art in such an intimate, local setting. Beautiful. The museum is a gorgeous building, a former Jesuit (San Luis Gonzaga) college, and the art was sensational. Danny and Mara both seemed to really enjoy looking around, and Danny took quite a few notes as well. The kids are growing up and finding their interests!

We took a break for a drink in a café restaurant called Olimpus or something like that—very old and not very clean. From there we tried to go into the churriguereque-facaded, eight gold altar-adorned Santo Domingo church and the cathedral, but the doors were all locked! So, back to the hotel for a respite it was!

We ate a late lunch at La Traviata, a pizza-pasta place near our hotel. Danny loved his pesto; he’s getting sooooo ready for Lent to be over so he can eat meat/fish/poultry again! He’s done great with the vegetarianism, but boy is his carnivore ready to come out!

We have really enjoyed walking around the alleyways and streets of this gorgeous city. There are so many artists and craftspeople selling their wares, and today Greg bought a gorgeous pendant carved and painted from bamboo.

Tonight there was a reenactment of the Last Supper and the events in the Garden of Gethsemene, including Judas’ kiss and the arrest of Jesus. We wanted to go, but it was just too much for us. I guess it will be left to our imagination for another year!

Around 9 we walked over to the former bullfight ring, the Quinta Real Hotel, for a drink.  It is the only hotel in the world, they say, that is in a former bullring, and it is stunning. To add to the beauty, it is located right next to the old “El Cubo” aqueduct.  We had such a nice time walking all around the hotel/bullring, and sitting out on the balcony gazing at the view. Tonight there was a Christie’s art auction going on, so we had some added people-watching.

Types of Kisses


In Callejón del Beso in Guanajuato there were quite a few young men who for tips would recite the legend of the star-crossed lovers (rich girl lives in house on left with balcony, poor miner rents a room in the house with the other balcony…). The legend seemed usually to end with, “There are many types of kisses in the world. Are you familiar with all of them? Would you like to hear what some of them are?” The first time I heard this, the types of kisses were recited by a 20-something guy. But this kid, he was just soooo cute talking about kisses he so obviously knew nothing about. I just had to videotape him.
Some of the types of kisses
Shark: eat the little fishes
Microwave: in five seconds you’re hot
Popsicle: suck until you get to the stick
Altar boy: until you ring the bell
Tamal: with everything and meat inside
Safe: two to the right and two to the left
Psychiatrist: with any crazy person


Travelogue Spring Break 2011, Day 5: Zacatecas

We slept in till LATE today, at the princess’ request, then Greg and I spent an hour or so reading in our courtyard before the kids showed up. We ate breakfast right here in the hotel courtyard. Let’s see, what we ate: huevos chamulcos, huevos divorciados, huevo con jamón for la guapa, and huevos encarcelados for the joven. La vida dura.
Today was Mara’s day as tour guide. She is beautiful and charming, she followed the map well and she easily got us where we needed to go. She wasn’t very good at answering questions though, lol.

She led us walking from our hotel up the Alameda, which is beautiful now with all the trees and flowers in bloom, to the El Eden Mine. 

This was our second mine tour, and we weren’t so keen to go on it, but we did want to take the Teleférico/gondola ride over to La Bufa, and the concierge told Mara that through the mine was the most convenient way to go. We ended up very happy we had taken this tour, as it was so different from the Valenciana Mine in Guanajuato. The Eden Mine is well-developed: gorgeous artwork at the entrance, a little train to take us into the mine shaft, a full museum inside, paved tunnels that are fully lighted… I preferred the first mine tour, as it felt so real and the guide was a miner who had wonderful insight, stories and history. But everyone else preferred today’s tour. The guide was very funny.

The mine has a nightclub inside that Greg and I have been very excited to visit. Sadly, this week it is closed for reparations due to some cracking in the walls. So, we could only peek in from the entrance, and I took a photo of a poster of it in one of the tunnels.

Once we finished the mine tour, we could either walk back through and then take the train back to where we started, or we could take an elevator up the 36 meters to the surface and then either walk three blocks downhill to El Centro Histórico or walk a bit farther uphill to the Teleférico, which was our true destination for the day. 

Upon leaving the mine there were quite a few vendors, and their creativity struck me. “Jicaletas?” Yes, paletas made from jicama, or jicama slices on a stick! How healthy, easy, and ingenious is that??

The most wonderful part of the entrance to the gondola, however, was the 83 year-old “mangolada” man, originally from San Blas. He was soooo very funny, creative and charming! We didn’t want a snack, but his clever schpeel roped us in. The mangoladas were great—frozen crushed mango with a bit of chamoy (chile) on top. I asked him how he stayed so fit at 83 years old, and he told me he eats about eight mangoladas every day which gives him great nutrition, and for exercise he walks up the hill to the Teleférico (132 STEEP stairs!) twice every day while carrying a cooler full of icy mangoladas in each hand. I guess it’s one secret to the fountain of youth!
The gondola ride was very cool, since we passed right over the city from one side to another. The day was clear and bright and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride. We want to do it again at night to see the lights of the city. The view from the top of La Bufa is spectacular.
On the other side of the gondola we walked uphill a bit further. Along the walk were many stalls of handicraft items, especially Huichol Indians doing gorgeous beadwork. We had fun talking to them and looking around.
First stop at the top of La Bufa hill was the museum of the “Toma de Zacatecas,” the major Revolutionary War battle against Huerta’s Federal troops. They had terrific photos of the battle, but unfortunately they did not allow photos, so I can’t show them to you.
Outside the museum are hundreds of artesanía shops and restaurants, lining the side of the hill. After a brief rest stop we walked over to the church, which is incredibly gorgeous. The amount of red sandstone/cantera rosa used in the buildings here makes this such a very beautiful place. We especially liked the medallions around the courtyard representing the various trade unions that support the church.

We took a taxi down to our hotel to rest a bit, and then headed out for dinner. The streets are crowded right now, we supposed for the festival and also for Holy Week. 

We were anxious to try the “asado de boda” for which Zacatecas is so famous, and we were able to do so in a place Greg found for us on Chow Hound. It was good—Zacatecan pork mole, I’d say.
A very nice, relaxing day in the place we’re planning to stay the longest this holiday. It is nice to be here and get settled in a bit.

Travelogue Spring Break 2011, Day 3: GTO-Zacatecas

We are very, very happy with our hotel here in Zacatecas: Mesón de Jobito. It was a mesón, then it was a neighborhood of several streets and dozens of houses, now it’s a mesón again.

The Zacatecas Cultural Fair is going on right now, luckily for us. Mariachi music and loads of art and artesanía today.

Greg’s former employees from KCCC live here now. It was soooooo good to see them! Tomorrow we will visit them on their rancho.

Travelogue Spring Break 2011, Day 3: Valencia Mine Guanajuato


The Valenciana mines in Guanajuato are old–1500s. They are still active, mining silver, gold, copper, and other minerals. We walked down into one of the tunnels, and heard about the history of mining, from its roots in slavery to the present day. One Spaniard from the southern Valencia region moved to the new world and opened the mines in this region. He prayed to San Cayetano that he would find gold, and that if he did, he would build the saint a temple. Well, he sure did strike it rich! The three altars in this church are completely covered in four layers of gold plate. It’s an absolutely beautiful church. The diocese threatened the “Conde” that if he built the other tower and the central dome, they would disassemble the entire church, as it would compete with the existing cathedral downtown.