Monday, November 12, 2007

Car Trip 25

Our next stop was the Museo Rafael Coronel. This museum houses a fine collection of Mexican folk art. It is located in the ruins of a 16th century convent. The majority of the pieces here, including over 2000 masks, were collected and assembled by Rafael Coronel, the son-in-law of Diego Rivera, perhaps Mexicos’ most well known muralist.

Although the museum also houses pottery, puppets, pre-Hispanic objects and sketches and drawings by Diego Rivera, the highlight is the masks. Definitely the masks. With over 2000 of them from various parts of Mexico to look at, one is quickly a victim of mask overdose. By the time the multitude of mask rooms is completed, one couldn’t give a flying fig newton if one ever sees a mask in ones’ life again! Sort of the same feeling you get if you try to see everything there is to see at the museum at House on the Rock in Wisconsin. (I get queasy just remembering that!)
Anyway, we finished that museum and made our way back downtown to visit the art museum that was high on B’s list. Unfortunately for him (but fortunate for me as I was tired in general and tired of museums specifically at this point), it being Sunday, the museum was closed. After a peaceful little lunch, we headed back to our new hotel for a much needed siesta.
the great hall attached to the museum. Do you see me?

We had scoped out a different hotel yesterday and moved there pronto Sunday morning. It was a great room and less than half of what we paid at the first pompous-with-no-reason-to-think-so first one we stayed at. It was at the back of the hotel and was a large room with a double bed, desk and two walls lined with little shelves for sitting or piling crap on top of, depending upon your level of organization. This room had a doorway in the wall opposite the entrance that took two giant steps down to another room that was a giant rectangle. This room had a single bed. At the end of this room was the bathroom. Honestly, it took several minutes to get from the entrance to the bathroom door! It was a fun room and finally afforded some bathroom privacy away from the main sleeping area! The only drawback to this room was that it was on the top floor of a 4 story walk up!

Having eaten such a late lunch, we decided to have our own private little cocktail party on the rooftop garden area just outside our room before heading off to taste the culinary delights of Zacatecas. L made a shopping expedition while B and I showered. He came back with cold beer for me and the fixings for sangria for himself and B. Quite clever I thought. Drinks in one hand and smokes and snacks in the other, we headed out to the garden and sat back and prepared for a relaxing few moments before heading out. After just a few sips, across the garden comes the manager. It seems somebody snitched on us. We were not allowed to drink in public, not even on this private rooftop terrace! So we had to grab all of our stuff and retire to our room, amid much grumbling. No matter. We finished our drinks and left to find dinner.

We scoured the city from one end to the other and just could not decide on a suitable restaurant for dinner. Either because we had already eaten at the ones we wanted to try, for lunch or dinner already, or maybe because we had stuffed ourselves on chips and crap during our little cocktail party. At any rate, we ended up getting roller dogs at the local OXXO convenience store and some other snacks and making an early night of it. Not exactly haute cuisine, but it satisfied us.

We made up for it on Monday night though. We found the best, seemingly undiscovered restaurant, behind a little wooden door on a side street. Once inside, it was huge and delightfully decorated in old fashioned Mexican motif. One could almost say antiques. Lots of stuff everywhere to delight and interest the eye. The service was fantastic, as was the food. The free hors de oeuvre was interesting. It was a platter of deep fried pig skin, with a very hot sauce to break off pieces and dip into. Sounds slightly disgusting, but it was delicious, especially with a frosty mug of beer at hand! Best of all, we had the waiter all to ourselves since we were the only ones dining there! It was called El Refugio and I would highly recommend it.

Earlier that day, in fact most of the day Monday, had been spent visiting places of architectural interest and a few smaller museums. We did a little side trip about an hours drive out of town. It was to the ruins of La Quemada. These sit high on a hill overlooking a wide broad valley as far as the eye can see. There is much conjecture as to who exactly inhabited them. Some think the Aztecs, some think it was part of a major trade route. Either way, they are perhaps the most interesting ruins I have yet visited in Mexico. We explored almost every nook and cranny except the furthest building, which was also on the highest peak!
We knew we had a good time because we all hated to leave, but our next adventure was calling and we were ready to face it. So back to Zacatecas, the aforementioned dinner and straight to bed to rest for our journey tomorrow. It was a wonderful, fun filled, but slightly exhausting final day in Zacatecas.

3 comments:

Andee said...

That's a really humongous (sp?) hall. I had to enlarge the photo to find you. Zacatecaa looks interesting except for being so desert-y looking.

What a trip. And you haven't even written about big fights and arguments and stomping off mad.
Sounds pretty boring to me, Right?

Andee

Anonymous said...

wayne,

i'm so excited! after reading this entry yesterday i looked on the map to find zacatecas and realized that it is not too far (generally speaking) from chacala. we've decided it will be one of the destinations during our 2 weeks of travel at the end of our trip. do you remember the name of that last hotel you stayed at? we hope to stay in some hostels but it's nice to know the name of a reasonably priced hotel just in case. so you see, reading your blog is like having our own personal tour guide-thanks!

the refugio sounds like a great place to eat. i'm assuming the fried pig skin is what they call chicharrones-also a cuban treat. i grew up eating that stuff. hoping my arteries aren't too clogged up ;-)

and yes, someday we will visit and you can show me L's pictures, but that trip will probably be a few years down the road. i look forward to meeting you.

teresa

thanks for being so understanding about the double messages. it seems that if i don't submit the 2nd time, sometimes they don't go through. evidently that happened the other day when i asked about L's backpacking tour guide business because it didn't get published. so i'll ask again-does he advetise on the internet or does he take private groups? i just might like to take a trip with him when we go down there someday. i love to backpack.

wayne said...

andee: it's anything but boring. As you can imagine, travelling with 3 people did have a few tense moments but nothing friends can't get through. So trivial I would never write about them.

teresa: Zacatecas is a wonderful city. The setting is gorgeous. Lovely clear high desert. I'll see if I can find the name of the hotel. I didn't keep track of details like that on this trip. The latest one I sure did though!

L no longer leads tours but if you email me I can give you some info.