Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Feb 18, 2007

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Our "connecting" bus from Real de Catorce, to our next destination, Zacatecas, dumped us in the middle of nowhere, at a dusty roadside shack.

We walk inside the poor excuse for a bus terminal, to enquire about, and purchase tickets for the next Zacatecas bus.

Ticket clerk: "Sorry, but there aren't any buses to Zacatecas for another 4 hours".
Us: "But, we were told by the bus driver who brought us here, that there's a bus to Zacatecas every hour".
Ticket clerk: "Sorry, there's only 4 buses a day and you've just missed one, so you'll have to wait another 4 hours".

We resign ourselves to the fact that we're going to have to spend all afternoon in a decrepit roadside hut, and start to kill time by counting the cockroaches that we can see running across the floor.
After a couple of hours, Marc says that he's seen at least three coaches pull up, over the other side of the road, and then carry on in the direction of Zacatecas.
We ask the ticket clerk about this, who replies, "Ah, yes, they also go to Zacatecas but they are different coach companies".
We have a right go at this idiot. "Why didn't you tell us that there were other bus companies?, we've wasted almost 3 hours of our day waiting here, in this shit hole of a bus station, when we could already be in Zacatecas".

We don't get an answer from him, just a gormless stare, and it's quite obvious why he didn't tell us about the other bus companies. He would have lost a whole dollar commission on the ticket sales, so it wasn't in his interest to advise us. Kind of sums up Mexican customer service really. You have to be on top of the game, and question everything!

We eventually arrive in our destination Zacatecas, a good few hours after weŽd hoped to get there.

Zacatecas is an elegant colonial city in central Mexico. In addition to it's fine colonial buildings, constructed of pink sandstone, it maintains a great partying tradition called "Callejoneadas".

This is an interesting way to tour the city! Around 8pm on weekends, a group of musicians, dressed in old Spanish costumes, gather in a square, and start to play. A crowd starts to form around the musicians. The organisers hand out small cups made out of clay, and which have a long ribbon attached to the handle. You hang these cups around your neck, and somebody fills them up with tequila.

When the crowd is large enough, the musicians take off, walking around the city centre, up and down the dozens of alleyways. The crowd follow the musicians, drinking, dancing and singing along the way. The musicians occasionally stop in squares so that people can catch up, refill their drinks, and dance like crazy. It's such a great and unique party.

After the Callejoneadas, we decide to check out a unusual disco, which has been built inside a disused silver mine. We climb into this mine train, which heads off through a tunnel. After a five minute ride, and a few hundred metres underground, we arrive in this bizarre underground disco. There are certainly no neighbours around to complain, but the nightlife in Mexico, unlike it's mother country Spain, tends to both start and wind down early, with this club closing at 2am.

From Zacatecas, we head over to Guadalajara, Mexico's second city! and our stopping off point to visit Tequila.

Yes, there really is a town called Tequila. We were still a good hour away, when the countryside suddenly filled with plantations of the blue agave plant, the principal ingredient of tequila. When we arrive in Tequila, and step off the bus, we immediately notice that the air is filled, with the pleasant aroma of roasted agave.

Obviously, there's one thing that we absolutely must do here in this town, and that's drink a Tequila, which we accomplish at the bar in the Jose Cuevo distillery. Afterwards, we take a look around some of the Tequila Museums, and head back to the bus station. As we cross the road in front of the bus station, a lunatic car driver almost knocks over a pedestrian. The pedestrian and his friends pick up bricks and start lobbing them at the car. Hey, I think we should bring these guys to London! Justice for the pedestrian Mexican style!

From Tequilla we travel down to the Pacific coast and to the popular resort town of Puerto Vallarta.

When we arrive in Puerto Vallarta, we bump into a Japanese guy who we know from our hostel in Creel. He explains that he's spent two days in the bus station waiting for his luggage. Apparently his bus broke down, they didn't transfer his luggage onto the replacement bus, and now they don't know where it is.
We try and help him out, as he doesn't speak any Spanish. The bus company representative explains that they haven't got a clue where it is, nor can they be bothered find out. They tell us that he has to wait for 3 days, and if it still hasn't turned up by then, the bus company will pay him 60 US dollars. We just look at the bus company representative in disgust, and say to him that he's lucky it's not our luggage that's gone missing, or we'd be furious. What a nightmare, we advise the poor Japanese guy to call his embassy and get them to put pressure on the bus company. One things for sure, after hearing his experience, we not going anywhere in this country unless our luggage goes with us.

We arrive in Puerto Vallarta, a quaint resort with cobbled streets, lively nightlife, and by Mexican resort standards, reasonable prices. We quite liked Puerto Vallarta, but the heat and humidity here is stifling (the rainy season's just kicking in), so we cut short our stay and head back up to the cool highlands and to another Mexican colonial town, Guanajuato.

A fairly different colonial town to Zacatecas, we would describe Guanajuato as quaint, whereas Zacatecas is elegant.

We spend a couple of days here, enjoying the many pleasant squares, historical sites, and most importantly, we relax, something which will be tough to do in our next destination, the megalopolis of Mexico City.
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