Meeting the Devil in Zacatecas

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June 25th 2010
Published: December 15th 2010
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The end of term has come and gone and the last day disappeared in the usual whirl of films and popcorn, games and goodbyes. Most of the students made an effort to come in for the last day and stayed for the entire lesson (a.k.a. party) I had fun with each class and students and teachers alike were wandering in and out of each other's classes saying goodbyes and joining in with various activities.
Today was technically the last day of term, minus the students. Students were able to come and pick up their report cards from the school if they had not already done so, and us teachers cleared out our classrooms and returned our teaching books and CDs. I was soon free to leave and said my semi-goodbyes to the school and principal although since I have another week in Sahuayo I will return for further goodbyes later.
Back home I packed for my weekend away and was soon standing near the plaza awaiting one ex-student with whom I had arranged a trip to Zacatecas as neither of us had been. I was really glad both to have company for the trip and alternative transport as it would be a very long journey by bus. Arturo arrived and taking a deep breath I greeted him in Spanish. It felt so awkward trying to piece together my Spanish with someone I'd been teaching English to for months but we soon reached a happy medium and between two languages and enthusiastic gesturing we filled the trip with conversation. We stopped part way at a large shopping mall and had lunch at an Italian restaurant.
At about 5pm we arrived in Zacatecas and I held my breath as Arturo rolled the car up and down tiny, twisting roads built on very steep slopes and randomly leading to dead ends. I was surprised when we actually found the hostel and managed to park the car beside it.
The good thing about arriving later in the day is that the hostel let us straight in and I was able to change and leave my bags in the room. The bad thing is all the tourist places are already shut for the day.
We decided to walk around town and get our bearings anyway. The first impression I got of Zacatecas was ... there's a devil on the roof!!! Sure enough as we walked down the main street I happened to glance up and see the devil standing on the roof of the building opposite, one hand curled around the stone decoration the other on his hip as he surveyed the scurryng mortals below. A little further on I noticed some other oddly dressed people advertising a legends of Zacatecas walking tour where obviously the story-tellers dress up.
We moosied about a little uncertain what to do. We found a tourist information and collected a couple of leaflets then discovered the stand selling tickets for the bus tours outside. After a bit of negotiation we decided on simply walking around town for the evening and then taking the tour to the mines the following day.
Following our map we walked past the cathedral and located a tourist office to enquire about tours to the mines which we knew we wanted to visit. We were sent back outside and found a small tour booth where Arturo discussed the various options and I struggled to keep up with the conversation. We decided on our plan for the next day and then retraced our steps past the cathedral towards the other side of town.
We walked past the very pretty Rafael Coronel Museum, originally a monastery and now a pretty ruin housing a museum. Following the path upwards we reached the top where a pink stone building stood behind high gates. Turning our backs to it we had a view across the whole city and perched on the low crumbling wall to take in the scenery. The sun beginning to set over the city, and the last visitors in the cable car slowly moving across the sky.
Zacatecas is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, due to its pink limestone buildings and architecture.
The Spanish first arrived in the area in the 1540s and eventually deposits of silver were found and miming camp established. A military mining camp was formally established in 1548, Minas de Nuestra Señora de Remedios, and the same year the first major vien of silver was discovered in the San Bernabe mine. The mines drew people to the area and in the space of a few years the settlement grew into one of the most important cities in New Spain and the most populous after Mexico City. In 1585 it was given the name “Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de Zacatecas” and received its coat of arms from Philip II of Spain. The word "Zacatecas" is the Nahuatl name for the indigenous people who inhabited the area before the arrival of the Spanish. The name derives from the Nahuatl word for a type of grass common in the region, zacatl. The region where this grass grew was originally called Zacatlan, and its inhabitants, Zacatecas.
As the sun began to set we started to make our way back into town. We briefly visited a small church and walked on down to the plaza de Santo Domingo, by which time night had closed in a full moon hung over the city. We walked a circuit around the streets and reached the Fatima Church. Building of this Gothic-style church began in 1950 when Bishop Anthony M. Aguilar laid the first stone. The initial project was under the supervision of architect Damaso Flannelette, who was famous for having built the second tower of the Zacatecas Cathedral. However, due to lack of resources the construction of the temple wasn’t completed until the year 2000. We agreed to revisit the church as it was locked for the night, but even in the darkness it was lovely, especially as we circled around and caught a view of it with the full moon shining between the towers.

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16th December 2010
Fatima Church

Love it!
This is an amazing shot!

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