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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Real de Catorce, MX

Danny has been talking about Real de Catorce since we first started talking about Mexico - hmmm about 16 years now I guess.  :) Today we finally made it. The skies offered a brilliant blue although a yellowish haze hung over the landscape as far as one could see. Are we seeing the pollution from  Monterrey? Who knows what lies between there and here in the way of industrial factories.

Turning from the highway we started up the cobblestone road.

 I believe 17 mi of cobblestones to be exact, taking one up to approx 9000ft. Bumpy, you can't even begin to imagine. Is this a new road? Can't find the answer to that question but I did find that it is designated one of the most spectacular roads in the world. (  http://www.dangerousroads.org/north-america/mexico/5835-real-de-catorce.html  )

This road lead us past a small  town off to the right called Potrero which turns out to be the name of the man who cleaned up the town (law enforcement term). Visiting and driving around was like stepping back into the 18th century (except for the coca cola sign on the whitewashed building in the middle of town).     You can even see the Moorish influence all the way into the middle of Mexico.  The church is a magnificent on the inside and with it's rendition of St Francis of Assisi, has become a pilgrimage destination.   
Continuing up the road, we go through another small town La Luz and then on to the top,   where we encounter the Ogarrio Tunnel.   This is a dimly lit, very dusty, very narrow (one car width only),1.5 miles long tunnel that is rumored to have been made from an old mine tunnel.   Up until it was built in 1902 más o menos, the road to the town was a horrific road in from the backside (I do believe that this is the road we tried to take yesterday) that is steep and narrow with one of the caveats being that you must like to back up while taking that road and have nerves of steel.  But for us today, it was an easy drive.

Arriving on the other side of the tunnel I was shocked to see what I saw. I was expecting this cutesy, artsy hole in the wall old mining town with a fantastic grouping of old architecture. Instead I was treated to some beautiful old architecture, a parking lot full of cars and rows upon rows of tacky vendor stalls.   The food stalls however, smelled ravenously inviting. If you had a hotel room, I have no idea how one would get to it as there was no room for a car to drive through. I have to be honest however, we are at the tail end of the Christmas holiday and 99% of the visitors were Mexican. Still, I can't help but wonder what it would be like midweek when school is back in and people are back at work.

The town actually flows up both sides of the canton where it is located.   
New buildings built to  meld in with the old,  the old somewhat dilapidated as they were made out of stone and adobe,   and amazing colonial architecture found in the building high upon the one side. The walking was incredible: cobblestones  and at the same time, up and down steep inclines and at 9000 ft. No wonder we were huffing and puffing, coming from just slightly above sea-level.

 the old mint where they minted silver coins

 the church. Much more magnificent than any we viewed in Uruguay.  

And what would be without a trip to Starbucks? Well maybe a slight exaggeration .... 

So until the next real adventure: