Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A selfie in Zacatecas

We hated to leave Zacatecas. There were many more museums to see and streets to walk. This antique city is very charming. Even a few people who spoke English. Fred was finding the trip more stressful than me because he speaks so little Spanish. My Spanish is only good for simple ideas, but I am feeling more comfortable with it. A smile and hand waving gets us a long way. Everyone has been very helpful.  Caught the midday bus back to San Luis Potosì.  The buses always have a movie.  Am I getting so used to hearing Spanish that the American Movie, "The Word" seemed right in Spanish?

Bell tower Zacatecas

Across the street from our hotel was Templo del Sagrado Corazon which was built in 1747.  Church seems to be a very important aspect of many peoples lives here. Talking to people, several told us that some of the young people are moving away from church, but for the older generation church remains a strong thread in their daily lives. Mexico went through a period in the 1800's when the government enacted the secular period and many churches were taken over by the government and turned into other uses. But as time went on most have returned to church ownership.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hanging out by a bull pen

Hotel staff are enjoying a break.

Ex-plaza de Toros now La Quinta Hotel

The bull ring was closed in 1975 when a new one was built outside of town. In 1989 La Quinta purchased the property and turned it into a high end hotel. The restaurant is open for all to enjoy.

Fred's photo of the aqueduct arches


Monday morning we walked down to see the old aqueduct and the ex-plaza de Toros. The bullring was moved to the outskirts of town in 1975.  Only parts of the aqueduct are being preserved.

Amaryllis in many gardens

At home I struggle to get my amaryllis to grow in pots indoors.  Here they are in all the gardens outdoors.

Santo Domingo shapes and colors

The Pedro Coronel museum is right beside the Santo Domingo Temple. After looking at all the abstract art with its emphasis on shape and color, we were fascinated by the interesting shapes and colors of the backside of the church. We saw this in a small patio off one of the museum rooms.

Pedro Coronel museum

This was our treat for the day. A world class modern art museum with an extensive collection of all the greats from the 1930's to 1970's. Picasso, Goya, Miro. This was the personal collection of the well know Mexican artist Pedro Coronel. Lucky for us the well done descriptions about the periods and themes of modern art were also translated into English.

Clean up awareness man

This person was dressed in an eagle costume with all the feathers made of junk food wrappers. His sign begs one to think of keeping our world clean, something that Mexico has been thinking about more recently. There were many people out during the evening festival event with their message.  Some with loudspeakers, some with costume, some like this person with signs and a graphic message.

The teleferico, cable ride

A cable ride goes from one side of the valley to the other ending at La Bufa. We rode across then had to walk all the way down from the top of La Bufa because the wind had come up too much. Great view!  Sunday ended up being our day to walk the town.  Although it was quite a hike down it gave us a chance to see the town more closely.  There are no stand alone, single family houses in this part of town.  Homes, offices, buildings are all attached.  From above one can see that the older buildings have large inner courtyards.

Traditional cowboy clothes

We had lunch in a mercado that had be changed to fifty type shops for tourists rather than a working mercado like the ones we went to in San Luis Potosi with George. Zacatecas is a big holiday destination with lots of hotels, restaurants to pick from and shopping. The old town has a warm intimate feel some of the buildings date all the way back to the 1550's though much of the town was expanded in the 1700's when gold and silver were big.  There is still an active mine in the region.

Sunrise behind La Bufa, Zacatecas

We woke early on Sunday morning.   Zacatecas is in a valley with the mountain topped by a large stone outcropping known as La Bufa on one side. We got a hotel room at Meson a la Merced with a great view of the historic Centro. This was taken from our balcony.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The many vendors

We have now come to expect the many vendors at every public event. There are few beggars here in Mexico, but there are many people eking out a living selling food or candy or toys or crafts on the street.

The crowd scene was exciting and intense

Calle Hidalgo, the main street through the old town, Centro Historic district, was closed to car traffic for a pedestrian only party for the last night of the week long festival Zacatecas.  Even back at our room, a couple of blocks away, we can hear and feel the vibes of the concert and the happy crowds.  We are told that the pink stones on so many of the buildings here are from local quarries and distinctive to Zacatecas.

In costume to promote a teatro about the mines and legends.

There were many people on the street as the unexpected evening festival Zacatecas began on the main street in the historic center of town. These beautiful young ladies, along with several others, were in costume to promote their theatrical production.

Fred's picture inside Templo Santo Domingo

Templo Santo Domingo taken by Fred Fago
This has been the most impressive church so far in our Mexican travels. It was first established in the 1500's but rebuilt in the 1700's.  The wall carvings are all finished in gold leaf.

Templo Santo Domingo

Close up detail by Margaret Fago
This church is the most elaborate so far. Much gold leaf is used in the baroque style designs.

Zacatecas Templo San Agustin

This is a block or two from our hotel, Meson a la Merced, in the historical center of town. Zacatecas is a hilly town with many interesting views.  Churches are an important part of every Mexican city we have visited so far.

Dawn over El Centro San Luis Potosi

The many churches in the old part of San Luis Potosi, el Centro, are visible as silhouettes from our hotel, Real Plaza at dawn. 7:30 am here. Here is a quick watercolor sketch and my painting set up.

Today we take the bus up to Zacatecas for two nights. It is the northern most of the colonial mining towns. It was a very rich mining area. They mined for all the metals, gold, silver, copper. They still have an active mine as well as a mine you can tour.

Church towers Real de Catorce

Our last Look at the church towers that are central to Real de Catorce.  They are rung every fifteen minutes with a different tone for each mark of time.  On the hour there are the number of rings for the hour.  At morning mass the come all long ring happens. the sound becomes but one thread in the many of a small pueblo.  Donkeys bray, dogs bark, footsteps can be loud on the cobblestone streets, music and songs flows from restaurants and along the streets.  The intermittent pick up trucks allowed on some street roar to life and brakes or fan belts squeal.  Much of Life happens on the street so even late at night and early there is the warm chatter of latino voices.

Friday, April 25, 2014

In the desert

On the old road to Real de Catorce

We took a jeep ride on the old road to Estacion de Catorce in the valley to north of town.  This is the way. Everything was brought to Real de Catorce before the tunnel was put in on the other side of town.  The first road was even narrower and was only for donkeys.  When the trains arrived the old cart routes became obsolete but donkeys and mules still carried all the goods up the steep canyon roads.  Modernization came with four wheel jeeps from WW  I and Ii.  The road was made wider.  The jeep we rode in was 1956 vintage.  Some goods are still carried by donkey. As you can see the road is only wide enough for one jeep and one donkey. Our guide and driver Bonifacio had much to tell us about the local history.  Christina, from the hotel came along too.  She spoke English and had only arrived two weeks ago.  It was her first time on the jeep ride.
Although there was a new cell phone tower in Real de Catorce the wi fi was too minimal to try to post.  Even back here in San Luis Potosi it can get bogged down quickly.  I am unable to go back into my text to make corrections for that reason.  Please forgive my mistakes in punctuation and spelling.

Calle Constitucion Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce Calle Lanzagorta

This is the main street in the small town of Real de Catorce.  Although the street was lined with venders of all types we could smile and say no and all was fine. We were there in a quiet time of the week so we quickly recognized the same people out on the street.  There are only 900 hotel rooms in town.  Our hotel, Meson a la Abundancia, had only 12 rooms, an excellent resturant, and very helpful staff.  The building used to be the Treasury when the town was a very rich silver mining area from 1780 until early 1900's.  The walls were three foot thick stone.  Inside was a courtyard joining the three story building with wooden steps and a cafe on the middle level.  The room keys were antique iron keys that we had to leave at the desk whenever we went out.

Painting in Real de Catorce

I finall have time to sit and paint in Real de Catorce.  This is designated a Magical Town.  It is!  The two boys watching are locals.  Their father runs the local lending library which is housed in a water tight case here on the plaza just beside where I'm sitting.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Procession of silence

Many children participated in the four hour walk
Each guild has its own color of outfits.  The men, called cofradias, cover their heads to be anonymous.  This is a tradition started many years ago by the bullfighters of the Carmelite Church El Carmen.  This guild are the Preciosa Sangre.the alters are carried on platforms called Andas.  The largest weigh up to half a ton.  They take up to thirty men to carry.  The bearers are called Costaleros, sack men, also known as "men with shoulders"the women are wearing the local traditional silk shawls

Waiting for the procession

I sat in the VIP seats that we purchased in front of the mask museum and across from the Teatro de Paz.  With our official press passes we were able to get up and walk with the parade to take pictures if we wished.  I decided to stay seated while Fred and George took spots closer to the parade start at El Carmen Church.  Martha did not have a press pass and was unable to get to our seats because she was busy with family and arrived after the start.  Huge crowds came to watch.  

San Miguelito church

On Thursday we went to San Miguelito Church to see the alters and the reinactment of the Adorational Santismo Sacramento.  Members of the church dressed as the disciples.  Fred was allowed in to take photos of the washing of their feet by Jesus.  People went in and out of the  hurch the whole time.  Vendors, as usual, were set up with food, Easter eggs, candy and toys.  By the church was a table with candles and bread.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Martha and George's cactus garden

I drew this sketch of the potted cactus on our first day before they bloomed. 
Yesterday, when we got back to G & M's, we found one of these cactus in bloom. This was the first bloom in four years. Lucky us to see it.

Headquarters for the procession of silence

At the headquarters for the Procession of Silence there was a museum.  
These are examples of the hand woven silk scarves that the women wear during the procession.  
They have intricate knotted designs on the ends. The women hand them down to their daughters to wear each year on this special occasion.

These men are working on the base structure of a float for the procession.  every year they make new designs on the base. 
 the Alter tops are kept in the church during the year to be brought out specially for the parade. 
 All during this week different alters are set up in churches and in front of the homes of the devout catholics.

Palm sunday

The vendors in front of san francisco Church on Palm sunday had a large selection of palm decoration for home alters.  
George is on the right taking his photo. 

Afterward we went for a beer in the restaurant next door which has a wonderful view of the cathedral towers.  
The young couple at the table next to us were very friendly and let us take their photo.

Church light show

Church Light Show

Purple Church

Purple church was but one photo Fred took during the fifteen minute light show.

monday evening at Plaza del fundadores

Monday evening at La Plaza Fundadores the light was beautiful. 
 Several vendors were making bubbles to attract children to their toy carts.  This young woman was the prettiest one. 
 The last of the light on the cathedral brought even more crowds out to enjoy the scene.

The cathedral on April 14

Monday evening was a interesting time down on the plaza de Los Fundadores (founder's square) with many families out enjoying free concerts, a light show and just a great place to meet friends. A smile got a smile in return. We were the only Gringos we saw yet everyone was friendly.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Clean up please

Lots of people have dogs. Sunday morning the main street, Carranza in front of our hotel, was closed to traffic all morning. Lots of people were out with their dogs for a walk. We have seen this great sign in all the parks reminding people to help their dogs clean up.

An evening at Moreles Park

We went over to Moreles park which is far enough west on Carranza that went took a taxi for $2.  George said it was the quietest he'd ever seen it as this is a very popular park for families to enjoy a bit of time outdoors after work.  While I sketched Fred and George found the bike/ skateboard arena where the street kids were working on their bike tricks.  They got lots of great photos.