Zacatecas y Los Dorados de Villa

Zacatecas is our first visit to a colonial city. Pulling into the city after dark, we spotted a hotel that looked like it had a parking lot accessible for us. We negotiated with the manager of the Hotel Don Miguel to let us “camp” in their lot. They didn’t want to send us away in the night, but were unfamiliar with a request to pay only for parking (without renting a room). Initially they offered 400 pesos per night for parking (rooms cost over 1,000 pesos) They accepted our counter offer of 2 nights for the 400 when we explained we just needed a secure place to park and our rig wasn’t too big, less than 7m.

View of Zacatecas from the top of Hotel Don Miguel

Zacatecas lies clustered in the middle of a vast desert landscape. It came to be only because of the riches that lie below it, as well as the success of the people who mined the plata here. Many other mining towns came and went but this town became a true city. The most definitive feature of this city is the convoluted nature of its layout. Amy and I have had difficulty navigating just a matter of 12 blocks from our hotel/parking space.

The streets seem to jut in every direction with wedge-shaped buildings filling in the gaps up until the strange intersections. The people constructed the streets from cobble stones, as well as the sidewalks (which are only wide enough for 1.5 persons). We spent much of the day just admiring the architecture of the many churches, cathedrals, and other ancient buildings. Many of the little shops are in buildings over two hundred years old.

Steep streets of Zacatecas

Streets of Zacatecas

I should mention that on February 1st is a Mexican holiday, Dia de la Constitucion (officially on February 5th). Early in the day streets were packed, but the night was quiet.

Our day in Zacatecas was filled with bits of delicious food and drink. First stop was at Birriaria del Cabrito. Steaming bowls of goat meat stew were served with minced onion, limes and a stack of warm corn tortillas prepared us for our walkabout.

Early in the evening, we enjoyed tamales, carrot cake and hot chocolate  at Acropolis next to the pink sandstone cathedral.

Rincon Zapatista was a perfect spot for a break from walking around the city.

Cappucino & La Jornada at Rincon Zapatista

We picked up two albums by Victor Jara (http://www.myspace.com/victorjara) and a film that served as an introduction to the Zapatista movement. This cafe has great cappucino for 15 pesos, internet service and Zapatista paraphernalia for sale.

Cathedral

Moving on to Cafe Dali, we played a game of pool and enjoyed some hot chai and a hibiscus-fruit tea to eclectic music. Definitely a spot popular with students, but not too hipster.

For dinner we wanted to check out Los Dorados de Villa, a restaurant highly recommended online and in our travel guides. Our taxi driver dropped us off in front of the restaurant but did not tell us the secret about how to open the door. We passed by it more than once, each time we could see diners inside and lights on, yet the door was locked. A neighbor tried to direct us, still no luck. Finally a delivery driver arrived and tugged on a hanging silver spoon. The green door opened.

Inside restaurant Los Dorados de Villa framed photos and old bits of paper cover the walls. Restaurant patrons insert their business cards into the edges of the frames. Colorful paper cutouts drape the entire ceiling. Antique typewriters, drums and lamps surround our table. Parakeets and lovebirds fly freely above you in the washroom. Recommendations for this place should be taken seriously, it was a great experience.

Tostadas came with a little salad of nopales, salsa and a mixture of jicama, carrots and chiles lightly pickled. They served up tasty pozole verde, and the steak was the best we have found yet in Mexico. John wanted to cry. We can’t wait to come back to Zacatecas to eat here again.

Zacatecas by night. Cafe Dali on the left of the plaza.

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