Zacatecas, Día Dos – 19 June 2004

by Jim on 2014/06/19

[Jimbaux knows that we rot away, live again, here forever, the spiral never ends.]

Previously, on Jimbaux’s Journal, we arrived in the Mexican city of Zacatecas on Friday 18 June 2004 and took many pictures.  It was the farthest place south I had ever been until the next day when we went a few dozen kilometers farther to the south to a place called La Quemada, which you will now see in today’s post.

Sabado – The Only Full Day in Zacatecas

On our second day in Zacatecas, we got in our bus and went farther south on the main highway to a location known as Le Quemada, where all of the pictures that I took on this day were taken.  Aside from the information conveyed by my photographs, I can’t tell you anything about this pre-European indigenous ruin that you can’t learn in Wikipedia’s entry on the site.  I will include a few pictures taken by Carlos of the night activities that night in Zacatecas, but the main focus of this post is the visit to La Quemada, which was really neat.

As the images are presented here chronologically as they always are in these posts of pictures taken on a particular day, we start with this relatively insipid view of interesting vegetation at the park entrance.

Any information provided about the vegetation would be appreciated.

The below picture is not only one of my favorite of the day or of even the Zacatecas trip; it’s one of my favorite of my entire Mexico experience!

The combination of natural and man-made objects both of Mexico really makes the shot for me.

Below, we see our same tour guide from yesterday.

Once again, I did not know what he was saying, but I was told that he described how the location as a settlement is believed to have suffered a fiery end, hence the name “la quemada.”

These posts were neat.

There I go again, wandering away from the group; in so many ways, and for better and for worse, it is the story of my life, or one story of my life.

That little pyramid – or whatever it should be called – at right was really neat.  We would climb that built-up hill to the left.

‘Twas an amazing experience indeed.

The young woman in the red pants was my new Portuguese-French friend!  She was a friend and travel companion of the Cambodian-French woman you saw yesterday.

Look at how steep it is!

I was not the only non-traditional college student there; the woman at left in the above image was from Indiana and was older than I was, I think with a family of her own back home, but I can’t really remember.

That is Tara again at the far right in the below image.

Isn’t this place fascinating?

Isn’t life fascinating?  Isn’t the world fascinating?

A fall down those steps would have really hurt.

Thinking about what happened here – or what is alleged to have happened here – was humbling, and that is kind of the point.

In the below image, you can see the visitor’s center in the background.

We certainly did some climbing.

Below is another one of those shots that I really like that really speaks “Mexico” to me.

Here is another natural wonder, an animated one.

Last, we see Adam along the high wall.

That was all for La Quemada.  We left and returned to Zacatecas.  I have no memory of where we ate that day, nor do I recall what happened for the rest of the afternoon.

I do, however, very much remember what happened that night, and my memory is aided by plenty of pictures that Carlos took, three of which I will share here.  When I was at ITESM and in Mexico (and until I got these slides digitized in May 2014, nearly 10 years after they were taken), my only way of visually telling the story of my experiences there were of the digital pictures taken by other people, mostly Carlos (I did get about a dozen slides from the experience, nearly all of trains, digitized in 2005.)  This meant that the only stories that I could tell with pictures were those in which one of these other people accompanied, which meant that perceptions of my overall experience in Mexico were skewered to those experiences that involved organized trips, mainly with ITESM itself.  Though nobody’s fault but mine, this was, as I see now, very unfair to me!  I was basically telling a story that was not really mine, or at least was not in a way that I wanted to tell it.  Now, I am glad that I finally can tell the story with my own pictures.

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote back then in a message with some of Carlos’s pictures from Saturday night in Zacatecas that I sent back home to family and friends:

Saturday night in Zacatecas included a rather entertaining event, the name, meaning, and origin of which I do not know.  But it was still fun!
There was some sort of local band with drums, trumpets, etc., that plays music, walks around the central part of town, and is followed by bunch of idiot foreigners, myself included.
Actually, most of the drinks there – and most likely including the one seen in this picture – were watered-down varieties of Tequila, some tasting like lemon.  When I drank my first shot, I thought that it went down rather easy.  After the third or fourth shot, someone offered me the “real stuff”, and I tried it, of course.  Okay, that was definitely stronger than the previous ones!
Surprisingly (perhaps only to me and my closest of “homies”), I put down a few more of these.  After shot number 13 or 14 – of which four-to-six were of the “hard stuff” – I said, “¡No más! ¡No más!

We were given these little necklaces with shot glasses at the end of them.  That’s how the Tequila was imbibed.

The brass band – which I would later experience plenty in New Orleans (again, it almost seems weird how I had this summer in Mexico experience before moving to New Orleans) – along with the local children dancing were interesting, but the rest of the antics from that night – the scheduled Tequila shots at each stop along the way and the peacock-feather-expanding like strutting that some of my travel mates did – now seems really silly and in some cases even stupid.  In the above excerpt, I wrote that the whole thing was “fun,” but I now not only no longer think so but also think that I only pretended (even to myself) back then like it was fun.  Well, part of it was indeed fun, but it was almost inevitably – but, paradoxically, unnecessarily – accompanied by silliness.  It was another situation in which I might have been better off either observing from a distance or totally avoiding; there is nothing wrong with either of those things, as I now see.

Speaking of Tequila, I had already learned from experiences with members of my host family and some of their friends that Mexicans don’t necessarily take “shots” of Tequila.  Even in a little glass or cup, they sip the drink; that experience has made me see how silly the white people practice of taking the whole thing at once – and insisting that others do it the same way – truly is.

Speaking more of Tequila, I think that it was while we were at La Quemada that day that the guide mentioned the Mexican city of Tequila, only to have one of my fellow Americans respond to him by telling him how funny it was that the city was named after a drink.  I had to, in order to avoid feeling embarrassed by what she said, let out an indignant I’m-not-with-that-person laugh.

Anyway, here is a picture that Carlos took of the cathedral.

My dear aunt had given me a English-to-Spanish, español-a-inglés translation dictionary, and this is how I often carried it on this Zacatecas trip when out walking in town or other places.

Finally, here is a picture that Carlos took of the marching band.

I thought it so neat the way those arches arch over the streets in that part of the city.

Four years to the day after these pictures were taken in almost the farthest south I had ever been, I was driving northward from Oklahoma to Kansas on the second day of a trip to North Dakota and western Canada, which would (for a year) be the farthest north I had ever been.

Domingo – Leaving Zacatecas for Monterrey

I really remember nothing about that Sunday except for the bus ride back to Monterrey; apparently, that is all that we did that day.  The ride to Zacatecas had been completely in the dark, meaning that we did not see any scenery.  However, the ride back to Monterrey was entirely in daylight (so that we could get home early enough to go to class on Monday.)  This was a chance to see some neat scenery.  I therefore thought it both kind of weird and some combination of ignorance, myopia, and an unfortunate death of curiosity that so many of my travel mates fixated their attention on a movie that was playing in the bus.  Really?  You’re deep in a foreign country with its unique scenery and landscape giving a live performance right before your very eyes, and you’re going to watch some recorded American movie?  (The movie was Hardball.)  The movie and its sounds was an unnecessary distraction for me (hence the need to mention it); I now can’t help but associate my memories of the area between Zacatecas and Saltillo with scenes and sounds from that movie, particularly Notorious B.I.G. songs, hardly how I want to remember the central plateaus and mountains of Mexico (even if I actually like the songs and even if I like that movie.)

I did chat with Joel some more and a few other people.  The scenes out the window were interesting, but the most memorable scene for me was slowly overtaking a northbound TFM train led by two grey Super 7s.  At 18:30, I spotted a northbound TFM train at some village about 20km south of Saltillo.  The train had auto-racks and coil cars.  The locomotives were TFM 2380 and TFM 2352.  Apparently, I did not attempt to take a picture from the bus.  Maybe my gear was stowed too well.  SD70MAC 1660 was parked here as was AC4400CW 2651 about a km to the north.  This must be some sort of helper station, I thought, and I later learned this to be the village of Carneros and that the railroad station was called Benjamín Méndez, of which the Mexican railroader friends whom I would later make would speak frequently.  I knew then that I really wanted to come and explore this area, as the scene that I saw was so much of what I imagined Mexican railroading to be, but despite returning to Mexico twice, I have yet to do so.

That is all for the Zacatecas trip.  I hope that you enjoyed it.  There is another month of Mexico pictures from my 2004 summer there.  Stay tuned.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Charlie Kilbourne June 19, 2014 at 07:22

James, I can’t get the word “steep” off my mind.



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