Shivering in the hills and underground

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
Trip End May 09, 2009

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Friday, October 17, 2008

We arrived in Zacatecas at 3am after a 15 hour slog, stepped of the bus....and nearly keeled over with the cold, coming from the tropical steamy coast to this swiftly dispelled the last month of complaining about the heat and we put on nearly everything we'd brought before getting a taxi straight to the hostel and getting in bed fully clothed. Brrr. Next day we warmed up more than sufficiently though, thanks to several hours of tramping through Zacatecas' hundreds of hills and windey alleyways. Its a gorgeous city, our room had a balcony that looked out towards the cathedral and the hills beyond. The cobbled streets are really well maintained and you can turn a corner and bump into yet another eyepleasing colonial relic. We took a turibus round the city but promptly forgot the dates and purposes of all the pretty old buildings we saw, but was better than walking it anyway which we ended up doing the next day despite being told by at least 4 different people to take the southern entrance to the mine as opposed to the top one and so avoid the millions of steps. Why can't girls ever work out North?!
A fine Zacatecas tradition, although also involving traversing evil hills, is the Callejoneada which we were invited to by some students we met in the street. Everyone gathers in a square and dances to a traditional band whilst being served free tequila from a carafe strapped to the back of a donkey. After a while the 2 thousand or so revellers follow the band and parade up and down the streets until they get to another square upon which the whole process starts again. Aching calves are swiftly dispelled with thanks to the free alcohol and the whole city comes out to watch the procession of hooting, cheering, dancing merrymakers.
We also visited the Mina de Eden, the origin of the town's wealth, thoughtfully extracted for them by thousands of Indian slaves imported from the south who worked 16 hours a day with baskets strapped to their head carrying out the silver from the mines depths. The average life expectancy, if you didn't tumble to the earth's core, was about 35. Nowadays the Mine is also put to a more hedonistic use with a discoteca carved into its depths, great place for dancing and watching the beautiful people shake their booty, but the best bit being the 20 minute train ride to get there, rattling through the tunnels with intoxicated youths serenading each other.
I don't usually plug hostels, but where we stayed, La Villa Colonial, really was rather ace- nice enough rooms with great views and cool roof terrace to play drinking games til 5am etc., but the one who made it all happen was Ernesto, the owner/manager/chatty reception man. He likes to practicing his strange pseudo cockney accented English with the guests and several nights a week organises a group of people to go to his favourite hidden haunts which included a cantina hidden down yet another alleyway, which was left full of bemused regulars after witnessing a group of germans, belgians, english, catalan, french and mexicans downing tequila in shameful European fashion and attempting to dance to banda.
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