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Road trip from Cancun to Aquascalientes and Zacatecas (Page 4)

 

Zacatecas

My professor friends from the University of Zacatecas convinced me that I NEED to visit their city about 90 mins north of Aguascalientes by car. I accepted.

The autopista between Aquascalientes and Zacatecas

The perfect picture of the AutoPista (super highway) between Aguascalientes and Zacatecas. No way would you see this in any tourist magazine. THIS is not the Mexico people expect to see. My VolksWagon is zipping along at 120km per hour and we on our way north on a beautiful late April morning. The tolls cost me about USD $6 between the cities. You have a choice to go on the free highway which stops at small towns with many speed bumps or take the new AutoPistas which are rapidly under construction all throughout this great country. These highways are equal to, or or better than, the US Interstate system. At night there are many reflectors on the center line, 4 lanes in many cases, and the curb is marked with white reflectors. They are building overpasses and cloverleaves.. Not as good as a European AutoBahn but definately this is first world quality. If your car breaks down there is free road side assistance that patrols the highway regularly

Remember... you can click on all of these pictures to see a larger image.

Below is a picture of the cable car I took that goes over the city of Zacatecas. It is the only cable car one in all of Mexico (yes it is made in Switzerland).

Cable car in Zacatecas

There is a mountain in Zacatecas with a historical fort on it. At the top of the moutain are metal statues of Poncho Villa and other famous revolutionaries during the Mexican Civil War around the era of 1910 or so.

A church, museum, and fort are at the top of the mountain where you can catch the cable car to the city below. The Mexicans tried to tell me about "El Bufo" which means a wine sack. They seem to have some significance with that here but I did not understand them totally. Zacatecas apparently was a major civil war town and this wine sack seems to be the name of the mountain. Also of interest is that this area was originally populated with cannibals when the Spaniards arrived. The particular tribe was totally wiped out and the locals will be raise an eyebrow and kind of "disassociate" themselves with any potential ancestry. Not like in Cancun where the current Mayan population is still intermingled with the people. I found that an interesting contrast.

Click to see a larger image

Oops. I jumped ahead a bit. The picture to the right is of the AutoPista highway out the side window of my car just before getting to Zacatecas. Check out those cactuses (cactii?). We are in the high desert about 7,000 feet about sea level (2,000m).

Click to see a larger imageThis Aquaduct in Zacatecas is no longer in service but has been preserved as a historic construction. Again... it looks more like Europe than Mexico.

The thing I notice most about the interior of Mexico (as opposed to my home country of Canada) is that it has much history. Not just the Spanish for the last 500 years but for its' native population too.

A woman from Aquascalientes told me that there is a "line" named MesoAmerica that runs roughly through the center of Mexico. When you cross that line and head south (all the way to the Incas in South America) you can see many structures built by natives that are sometimes 1,200 years old.

The biggest error we "gringos" make is to fail to understand the rich heritage of Mexico. We tend to think of it as a former Spanish colony that is now independant. True, but missing the point! The Mexicans look way back in their history and the Spaniards certainly had a major impact, but the Mexicans understand that their heritage reaches back 1,000 years before the Spaniards arrived. Thus in their way of thinking, the Spanish Conquest was only a brief interruption in their continual history. Understanding this key point when you speak with a Mexican will gain you great respect.

Click to see a larger imageThis picture of Pancho Villa was taken with my camera in the museum at the top of the mountain in Zacatecas. He is probably Mexico's most famous person to the outside world, being a major figure in the Mexican Revolution circa 1910.

It is from pictures like this that originally surfaced in early newspapers that gave the world their view of the "typical Mexican" wearing a sombrero and with the stereotyped X of bullets on the chest. Those stereotyped views are still believed by many foreigners. Nothing could be further from the truth about modern Mexico as can be seen from my trip. It's a modern country in my opinion, about to become a first world nation. Yes, there is still corruption and things don't work out. Progress is slow but Mexico IS on track to be seen as a modern nation in the next few years.

One curious thing I have learned is that when I travel in the Hotel Zone of Cancun (where I live) the Mariachi Bands play the "stereotyped" music that people expect. It is hard to explain, but I can see in the faces of the band members that they are just itching to finish their shift, they smile and behave like you would expect.... then return to "normal" life in Cancun City dancing to Salsa, Merenge, and sharing times with family members. I guess we do the same thing in Canada with the Mounties... they don't wear that red uniform and smokey the bear hat except in places where tourists are found. They are professional police officers like Scotland Yard or the NYPD.

Click to see a larger image Zacatecas has a pretty good puppet museum and collection of masks donated by a local. The museum is in a ruined church and former monastery.

The monastery is under reconstruction by the government as a museum and tourist attraction. For 100's of years it has been in decay.

Click to see a larger image This guy was walking through the park in downtown Zacatecas. Imagine THAT on Broadway in New York, or Bay Street in Toronto. I have no idea what he is doing with this hairy critter that is most likely a sheep (I know nothing of farm animals). Most people walk poodles, this guy I have no idea!

I can guess what is in the sack he is carrying though I don't see a pooper scooper. He probably thought I was strange too.. the only gringo he has seen for a longggggg time.

So... that's my trip photos for now. I will add more if there is general interest. If you want to use any of these photos on the trip pages (and on this entire web site) be advised that they are copyrighted. Feel free to use them for whatever reason you like if you include a link or message that they are corteousy of www.cancunassist.com and are copyrighted. I have the original 3.2 megapixel pix if anyone needs extreme high quality images for some purpose.

I'd love comments at swilson@cancunassist.com

 
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