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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico

Historical City of Pink Stone

(Pronounced: Saa-ka-TAY-kus, MAY-hee-coh)

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Leaving Chapala, Mexico for our 10 day trip to the High Sierra, our first stop was the famous city of Zacatecas the capital of the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

 

After a combination of a first class bus out of Chapala (8 a.m.) and a taxi to the new bus station terminal 5, we take the 9 a.m. first class bus to Zacatecas. 320 Pesos bought each of us tickets on this air conditioned bus with movies and refreshments provided by Omnibus. We arrive on time at our destination 5 hours later.

After arrival and before leaving the station, we always check the bus schedule for departure times to our next destination. This is an excellent habit to form and will save you time and hassle later.

 

From the bus terminal, we pay our taxi 25 Pesos to take us to Hostal Colonial, in the center of the city which has this spectacular view of the cathedral from its upstairs terrace. Two kitchens are available in this hostal, one on this level and one downstairs. Our room was 250 Pesos per night and included Cable TV, hot water, WiFi access, book exchange, sitting room and use of kitchens.

Centuries ago, this area of Mexico was inhabited by several indigenous tribes who had never been conquered by the Aztec Indians of the south. There are four primary tribes who inherited the area of present-day Zacatecas called the Zacatecos, Cazcanes, Guachichiles, and the Tepehuanes.

 

As we mentioned previously, the buildings in Zacatecas are made from the pink stones of the quarry nearby. At various times during the day, the sunlight on the stones will bring a type of subtle glow to the city. Think shades of rose, cream, mocha, and gray. Truly lovely.

Latin America has many fountains built within their city limits and this adds a relaxing touch to a bustling place of over a million inhabitants.

 

When we arrived at our hostal, we asked for a recommendation to have lunch. By now, it was almost 4 p.m. and we were hungry! This restaurant is Adobado de Boda and it was hopping! I had the specialty of the house and Billy had enchiladas con pollo. With tip it came t o 250 pesos - a bit steep considering we pay about 100 Pesos in Chapala for a similar meal - but it was tasty.
 

Beautiful, stately Zacatecas.

 

 

 

 

The main cathedral is in the center of this photo. Notice the very clean streets. Everything is made from pink stone.

When Miguel Hidalgo, a parish priest from the Mexican town of Dolores, issued a call to rebellion from the Spaniards in 1810, he marched his rebel armies through this city. When Mexico finally achieved its independence in 1821, Zacatecas joined the new federal republic and was formally incorporated in 1824.

 

Narrow callejones are common in these colonial cities. Zacatecas is a little like a Latin-style San Francisco, California. There are hills, steps and steep inclines. The weather is similar also, crisp and sometimes overcast or foggy. But when the sun shines, it is magnificent.

 

Main streets carry the vehicular traffic, and the side callejones are filled with shops and pedestrians.

Zacatecas was plagued with political and military conflicts throughout the 19th century. The whole state was a critical battleground in the War of the Reform and the capital of the state, the city of Zacatecas, was occupied back and forth, by both sides. Even French forces occupied this regal city, but the occupation lasted only two years. By 1867, the French had been expelled from the country.

 

Did I mention steps?

Up and down, and all around. Wear walking shoes when you visit.

Imagine this tranquil city being overrun at war time with impassioned countrymen fighting for their independence. Did anything happen on these steps? Or around the corner?

 

Archways are another common feature of architecture in Latin America. The repetitive pattern against the pink stone is peaceful, and the effect of a long hallway to another location creates mystery.

 

These silver bracelets were some of the most delicate and intricate work I have ever seen. Prices were affordable and the designs were captivating.

In 1546, a Basque noble, Juan de Tolosa, was the first European to find silver in Zacatecas when a small group of Indians living near the present-day city of Zacatecas brought him several pieces of ore as a gift. In 1548, the Spaniards established many silver mines and the roads leading from Zacatecas to the rest of the country were known as the "silver paths."

Indians from southern Mexico, eager to earn the higher wages offered by miners, flooded into the region.

Today, Zacatecas has more than fifteen mining districts which yield silver, lead, zinc, gold, and other minerals. Thanks to Zacatecas, even today Mexico is the largest producer of silver in the world, contributing 17% of the world's total output.

 

This little dulceria sold specialty sweets from the area. If you want to try jams, candies, sweet almonds, or syrup this is the place to wander through.

 

While much of Mexico displays bright, riotous color mixes, the capital city of Zacatecas is more sedate. Here in the center of the photo you can see a building painted an understated gray-blue to coordinate with the surrounding architecture.

Traveling through the highlands of Mexico is a must adventure for any traveler. From the famous silver mining city of Zacatecas to the most Mexican town in Mexico, Jerez, and finally the World Heritage and enchanting, University city of Guanajuato. All of these places were unique and unquestionably worth a visit. For more information and practical tips for planning this journey for yourself, we offer The Adventurer's Guide to Mexican Highlands click here

 

The morning sun is gentle perfection and wandering around early in the day will bring you tranquil enjoyment. Bring your jacket!

 

More arches, more steps! There is wordless comfort in the obvious tradition found here, and I'm taking a rest by the potted plants and enjoying the soft light.

History is everywhere in this city - obvious in the architecture and stone work seen at every turn.

Catholic missionaries had begun a vigorous campaign to win the hearts and souls of the native people of Zacatecas, and by 1596, fourteen monasteries dotted the present-day area of Zacatecas. It was part of a policy called "peace by persuasion" and it proved to be more effective than the use of the sword.

Importing vast quantities of food, mostly maize and beef, along with assured freedom from enslavement helped to settle the area.

 

Another sloping street in a city that has yet to awaken.

 

This stone is far more orange than many that are used in Zacatecas. Definitive swirls and slants mark this selection.

In the 1880s, a transportation revolution brought the railroad to Zacatecas. By the end of the decade, Zacatecas was linked by rail with several northern cities, including Ciudad Juarez. The Mexican Central Railway, which ran from Mexico City through Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, and Chihuahua, became a major catalyst for the massive immigration from Zacatecas to the United States during the Twentieth Century.

 

The colors of Mexico's flag are draped over the balconies of this building creating a patriotic and festive statement.

 

A government building with tall posters advertising musicians and upcoming theater events.

 

The ancient aqueduct running through a park in the city.

Today, in many parts of Zacatecas, a hundred or more ruins in the state reveal an ancient civilization that flourished between approximately 200 and 1250 A.D.  In fact, a large pre-Columbian settlement can be found in southwestern Zacatecas.
 

This is the Quinta Real, an upscale, famous hotel/restaurant built in an old bull ring setting. The floors are made of the indigenous pink stone, and the walls are painted this soothing terracotta color. This makes for a splendid display of color and light.

 

This is the old bull ring.

 

 

 

 

The previous photo was taken on the topmost level that you see in this photo. The places that used to house the bulls are now designer stores on the bottom floor.

Notice the aqueduct in the background.

 

Part of the restaurant is out-of-doors allowing a spectacular view of the bull ring below as well as the ancient aqueduct across the street. The restaurant is upscale and if it is too pricey for you, come for coffee and a pastry or a happy hour drink instead. You'll enjoy the view as well as the service.

 

This is the native Zacatecas.

These vendors are selling a medicinal juice from a plant that is naturally sweet without altering its original flavor. This beverage is excellent for colds, sore throat and the gripa, or flu.

 

Game for anything, we give it a whirl! They weren't kidding, it was delicious!

 

Another fountain in this captivating town. Mini plazas and small shops make for pleasant detours. We had lunch in one of the small restaurants at this plazita and it had only two items on the menu: Enchiladas and Pozole. We split one of each and both were excellent. With beverages, 100 Pesos was our total.

 

This building used to be a convent years ago. Most of it is in ruins and is now a sort of historical monument to the past. It is worth visiting - just ask anyone about the ex-convento and they will direct you here. It is a pleasant walk from downtown. Entrance is 30 Pesos per person.

 

An older gentleman sitting on a bench in the afternoon shade, watching the world go by.

 

For 27 Pesos per person, you can take the Teleferico up the Bufa and see the expansive view of the city. It's an enjoyable walk to the city below through the small and convoluted streets or take the Teleferico back down - but you will have to pay the same fee to return.

 

On the top  of the Bufa is a very good historical museum with many newspaper clippings along with photos, a church and many bronze statues commemorating the war heroes of the Mexican revolution. The man on the horse in this photo is Pancho Villa.

In June 1914, the city of Zacatecas became the center of national attention when Pancho Villa and his Dorados stormed the city to clash with Spanish forces commanded by General Victoriano Huerta. The battle, which became known as La Toma de Zacatecas (The Taking of Zacatecas), was the largest and bloodiest of the revolution, leaving 7,000 soldiers dead and 5,000 wounded; the number of civilian casualties was never recorded.

2010 is a big year in Mexican history as they are celebrating their 200 year anniversary of their independence from Spain, and 100 years since their revolution.

Viva Mexico!

 

Traveling through the highlands of Mexico is a must adventure for any traveler. From the famous silver mining city of Zacatecas to the most Mexican town in Mexico, Jerez, and finally the World Heritage and enchanting, University city of Guanajuato. All of these places were unique and unquestionably worth a visit. For more information and practical tips for planning this journey for yourself, we offer The Adventurer's Guide to Mexican Highlands click here

About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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