published: June, 2001
Lorena's Note: Char will be sending us Travel Reports as they travel through Mexico. Keep checking back for their latest adventures.
Fri. January 12, 2001
Hotel Hacienda del Bosque RV
160 pesos ($16 + tax)
This morning Donna and Dell showed up, but only in their little car... not the RV. As we had figured, it had broken down again about 50 km outside of town. They spent the night on the side of the busy highway. Terrified, of course. This morning, by driving in low gear only, they were able to limp a little further to a truck stop about 30 km away. They left the motorhome there and drove the car in.
We all sat down for breakfast at our hotel and tried to decide what to do. The hotel people were extremely helpful and found a mechanic who was just about to drive north to Illinois with his whole family in the car. He agreed to stop and look at our friend's motorhome to see if he could help. In the meantime Bruce and Judy, and Al and I, decided to wait until noon before leaving in hopes that Donna and Dell might be able to join us by then. They did call to say some other mechanics were coming out, and for us to go on. And this evening we received another message to the effect that it was working again, but we don't exactly know what that means....
The drive between Saltillo and Zacatecas was quite uneventful for us, although not nearly as easy as taking the toll road between Laredo and Saltillo. This road was extremely busy with huge trucks around both cities, but otherwise it wasn't bad. The highway was very smooth in parts, but some parts were quite rough, with steep drop offs on the shoulders. But we've seen much worse... and there were very few curves on this highway. It was extremely straight.
Our campground is again part of a hotel, the Hotel Hacienda del Bosque, and it's just at the edge of town. More about it later....
January 13 -14 Zacatecas
This morning around 9:00 the management called us to the phone... Donna and Dell, of course. They said they had talked long and hard, and had finally decided to give up the trip. The rest of us were really disappointed, needless to say. They've put so much money into getting the motorhome this far, but Del still doesn't feel confident driving it down through Mexico. Even if it totally breaks down, we understand they still have to get it back out of the country. They can't just leave it, and that could become a tremendous burden.
So while Donna was pleading to stay, Dell said no, and we could hardly blame him at this point. (So let this be a lesson to anyone bringing down a motorhome. Have it in tip-top shape.) Anyway, we're all feeling kind of down at this point.
But this morning we drove the Geo into downtown Zacatecas, and found a parking place right in front of the cathedral. We spent about three hours just walking around sightseeing with our Michelin Green Guides clutched in our hands -- up hill and down hill. This was Bruce and Judys first real experience in a Mexican city. In planning this trip, we figured Zacatecas would be a good place to start. And it was!
Al and I had never been here before either, so we walked and walked and walked.... I have two knees that are giving me fits, and all the hills and steps didn't exactly help them, but I survived. Hopefully the more I walk, the stronger they'll get.
We explored the Historic Center in the morning. After a 3-hour siesta, we drove to see the Aquaduct and the nearby Hotel Quinta Real, which was built around an old bullring. It's an absolutely gorgeous hotel, and the staff encouraged us to wander around. The outer walls of the bullring are now long circular galleries, bars and restaurants. There are pots of flowers everywhere -- things are beginning to look like Mexico!
The next day we drove up to La Bufa, the mountain just outside of town. Judy and I took the cable car down while the guys drove the car. It's a Swiss-built cable car system -- very smooth ride even though it was breezy outside. From there we had a tour of El Eden Mine. Even though the tour was given only in Spanish, it was still interesting. Finally we drove to the suburb of Guadalupe to see the lovely church and watch the children in the plaza.... lots of kids have scooters here also!
Our campground here in Zacatecas also adjoins a very, very nice hotel, but, once again, it is a large courtyard paved with stones, with all back-in spaces. An attendant was sent out with us to see that we got hooked up properly (choice of 15, 20, 30 or 50 amps), and it all seems to be working. The restrooms and showers are fantastic! Everything is made of marble tile with very ornate chandelier-type light fixtures. We felt very elegant. (We found out later that the mens room had been taken over by some workmen as their housing accommodations, so the one large, very nice ladies room is also the mens room...hopefully temporarily.) Even the street lights around our campsite are very unusual.... each is made of four dragons, with wings, etc.
But on the downside, there is a railroad track running right behind the hotel, and one train in particular loves to blow the sharpest whistle I have ever heard as he goes by in the middle of the night. Plus trucks run all night on the highway in front of the hotel. Ear plugs would be handy. However, after checking out the location and amenities of the other two possible places to camp, we still think this one is the best.
Hotel Hacienda del Bosque RV, Zacatecas: coming from the north, Hwy. 54 joins with Hwys. 45 and 49 about 10 km north of the city. Continue south on the combined roads until just at the point where Hwy. 54 cuts off to go to Guadalajara. The hotel/RV park is on the left side of this intersection. Turn just before the hotel and enter from the side, working your way around to the front on the cobbled drive. Register at the main desk. After three nights, we're still the only ones camping here.