Monday, October 26, 2009

Zacatecas Part 4: Fantastic masks of the Rafael Coronel Museum

The Rafael Coronel Museum contains a huge collection of extraordinary masks. Carole has become an aficionado of indigenous Mexican masks, about a dozen of which adorn the walls of our Ajijic home. When she read about the thousands of masks contained in the Zacatecas' Rafael Coronel Museum, she put that on the top of her "must-see" list. The mask above is one of many which depict the natural world. Actual antlers and animal hair were used to heighten the realism of the mask, although I have never seen a deer with such as sinister grin. Since I am publishing this blog post on the eve of both Halloween (Oct. 31) and the Dias de los Muertos (Nov. 1-2), I decided to dedicate it to those two fiestas, closely linked on the calendar, but entirely different in tone, focus, and history. What they share is a delight in scary masks and haunted houses. For days/hours of operation, and fees of the Rafael Coronel Museum, click here.

An ideal location for a haunted house. The Rafael Coronel Museum occupies the ruins of the Convento de San Francisco, built in 1567, the first Franciscan convent in the province of Zacatecas. The construction was authorized by Pedro de Ayala, Bishop of Nueva Galicia (Guadalajara). I shot the photo above from a Teleferico car dangling high in the air on the ride down from La Bufa. The Templo, or church part of the convent, burned down 80 years after the convent was built but was quickly rebuilt in 1648. The Templo is the tall rectangular building on the left side with the white-topped dome. The Ex-Convento is the lower building on the right with the five portales (archways) facing the green lawn.

The Ex-Convento was extremely important to early Franciscan evangelization. The earliest missionary here was Fray Geronimo de Mendoza, who took up residence shortly after the convent was completed. The Convento de San Francisco de Zacatecas was one of the twelve most important of such complexes in the Americas. From here, missionaries fanned out through Northern Mexico and what is now the Southwestern United States. Above, a series of arched passageways seems to lure a visitor into mysterious regions beyond.

Gorgeously lush gardens suddenly appear when ruined corners are turned. Purple bougainevilla flowered in a quiet corner of the ruins. In the mid-1850's Benito Juarez became Mexico's first full-blooded Indian president and instituted the Reform Laws, aimed in part at curbing the overwhelming and pervasive power of the Catholic Church in Mexican society. For centuries, the Church had acted as an ally and apologist for the rich, and Juarez saw it as a major obstacle to social and economic change. In 1856, the Franciscan Convento was closed, along with many other religious facilities around the country. Naturally enough, when local people observed the departure of the Franciscans, they moved right in and created their own neighborhood on the property. Gradually walls and roofs were removed to sell the materials, and the property fell more and more into ruin.

A "flying buttress" supports a wall in an inner courtyard. The arched support above is an architectural innovation of the Middle Ages. Medieval architects realized that they couldn't construct the graceful walls of their churches above a limited height without making the walls so thick that the structure would become impractical. The solution was the flying buttress, which allowed huge stained-glass windows and soaring walls. The walls could remain relatively thin, giving the structure an open, airy feel. When the Ex-Convento was constructed, Spain had only recently emerged from the Middle Ages, and the old architectural styles were imported to Nueva Espana.

The Ex-Convento deteriorated for almost a century. In 1953, an effort began to restore the old structure before it completely fell apart. However, it wasn't until the 1980s that reconstruction began in earnest. As a great admirer of ruins, I was glad the restorationists chose to maintain the "ruined" aspect of much of the structures, even as they built their museum. The Ex-Convento is a quiet, dreamy place, worth an afternoon's ramble even without visiting its spectacular museum. I could almost hear the haunting footsteps of colonial friars as they rushed about preparing for another risky mission among the savage tribes of the North.

A great collapse. While the area of the Convento was abandoned, the Templo continued in use until a few years after the Revolution. In 1924, the vault of the main nave of the church (see above) collapsed. It took another three decades before the architectural value of the property was fully recognized and restoration finally began in 1987. One of Zacatecas' famous artists, Rafael Coronel, offered his collection of masks and other objects which became the major focus of the museum.

Empty passageways, ruined walls, with the sky as the only roof. This whole site is very evocative, and I lost track of Carole and our European friends as I wandered from room to passage to courtyard, the walls all overflowing with flowering vines. I lost myself in the feel of the place and the joy of photographing it. Finally, I broke away from my haunted old convent, and decided to venture into the scary precincts of its Museo de Mascaras.

The Rafael Coronel Museum contains a vast mask collection. In my research for this post, I found various estimates of the number of masks in the collection. The highest was 10,000. One article stated that, whatever the number, those on display were only 30% of the total, the remainder being kept in storage. The skull masks above were probably meant for a Dia del Muerto fiesta.

Some masks reflect the wild animals found in the indigenous makers' environment. Above you can see representations of various members of the cat family, including jaguars. In some indigenous communities, the animals were considered protectors. When the masks were worn during ceremonies, the wearer would dance in imitation of the movements of the animal represented.

Close view of cat mask reveals a successful hunt. The jaguar shown above appears to have caught a snake, which writhes in its mouth. The mast is carved from wood, with actual fur attached as cat whiskers. The earliest mask found in Mexico may have been made between 12,000 and 10,000 BCE, and represents the head of a coyote.

Hungry caiman appears ready to leap on its prey. Crocodiles, alligators, and caiman are found in the swamps and lagoons along Mexico's coastal areas. The mask above is worn on the shoulders with the person's head through the hole in the middle. About 1200 BC, masks in clay and stone began to appear. Later, the Mayas built the Palace of Masks about 10 AD, in Uxmal, a major site near Merida in Yucatan. The rain god Chac appears in hundreds of masks at the site.

Not one you'd want to meet in a dark alley. The mask museum was eery. It wasn't just the masks, but the dim lighting of the seemingly endless series of rooms, empty of people but full of masks. Intent on photographing a mask, I would feel the hairs on my neck rise up. Turning quickly, I would find something like this staring me in the face.

Some of the masks reflected the native view of the arriving Spanish. This creation was more than a mask. The wearer also donned a set of armor, based upon the costume of the ruthless and grim-faced Spanish conquistadors. Many of the other masks representing Spanish figures were big-nosed and pink-skinned. Appropriately, ghostly images are reflected in the glass of the case containing this armored figure.

Domesticated animals introduced by the Spanish also began to appear in masks. One of the aspects I found fascinating was the depiction of more than one animal in a mask. In this case, a lizard climbs down the snout of a rather startled-looking cow.

Another cow, this time with a toothy grin. Indigenous masks are a way of integrating the secular and the religious. Aztec priests wore masks at human sacrifices, but so did their sacrificial victims. Warriors in the indigenous military orders wore masks representing animals, such as jaguars, that were the symbol of their order.

A mask to make Mick Jagger proud. This one reminded me of the famous Rolling Stones poster with the meaty lips and protruding tongue. Jagger, who wrote a song about the Devil, would probably identify with this mask. Often, masks like these would be worn in conjunction with masks representing Catholic saints in dramas where they would vanquish the Devil figures.

And speaking of devils... The mask maker pulled out all the stops on this one. Three sets of horns, a nose like a coiled snake, and a tiny mask on the end of the tongue are only a few of the details the maker included. Guaranteed to scare!

A magnificent set of mountain sheep horns adorns this mask. Once again, the maker has included real features of the actual animal depicted, but added his own touches including squinting eyes and a rather creepy smile.

Warthog peers out from dark, hooded eyes. Another critter obviously up to no good, and one that gave me a start in a shadowy room.

A wooden mask with actual teeth. Although more primitive than some, and unpainted, I found this mask particularly striking because of the teeth, which may or may not be human. There was no sign to explain. Unlike the conception of self in European societies, the indigenous people believed that the person was not separate from his environment, with distinct boundaries. Instead, they believed there was a direct relationship, almost a continuum, between the person and the natural life around him or her. Often they believed that each person had an animal counterpart with supernatural powers which could be called upon through rituals including masks.

Boo! Happy Halloween and Feliz Dia del Muertos! Hasta luego. Jim

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zacatecas Part 3: The Eden Mine and Baroque Art of Guadalupe

El Eden Mine is entered by train. For me, one of the most interesting sites we visited during our sojourn in Zacatecas was El Eden Mine, which extends 3,000 meters under Cerro La Bufa hill. The silver output from El Eden helped Zacatecas produce 20% of the worlds supply at one point. Silver and other minerals formed the basis of Zacatecas' wealth for centuries. They also motivated centuries of conflict in the area, right up to the Mexican Revolution when Pancho Villa seized the city in a bloody battle aimed at controlling the silver output. The mine's ore production ceased in the 1960s after continuously operating for almost 400 years, starting in 1588. After it closed, the mine became a tourist attraction and facilities were built to safely transport sightseers deep into the heart of La Bufa on the train you see above. One of the world's most unusual nightclubs is located deep in the mine. The train has only a single track, so it goes one way into the mine and then reverses direction to come out. The mine is open daily from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM and the fee is $25 pesos ($1.94 USD).

El Eden was carved out by hand. Our guide assured us that El Eden is safe for tourism because no explosives were ever used during mining. I found this extraordinary given the size of the mine. The tunnel we traversed extended more than a mile into the heart of La Bufa, and is the only one of four levels open to tourists. The lowest level is completely inundated by water. Over the centuries, all these tunnels were laboriously carved by hand from solid rock. Since there were no explosions to crack the rock, there is little danger of cave-ins. The floor shown above was obviously smoothed with concrete so gawkers like me wouldn't break our necks tripping over the rough stone which once sounded with the shuffling steps of Indians carrying their backbreaking loads.

Silver was not the only source of El Eden's riches. Other minerals mined included gold, lead, zinc, and copper, although in much smaller quantities than the silver. Miners followed a vein where ever it took them, which resulted in some winding tunnels. Above, various minerals can be seen in the rock. Silver and gold are both often found associated with quartz, the white mineral running in bands across the photo.

The technology of mining at El Eden didn't change much until the 20th Century. Above, two mannequins display the technique for moving miners from one level to another. Heaven help a miner if the rope broke. The miners were largely Indian, with some mestizos (those of mixed Indian and Spanish blood). Few of the Indians from the local Chichimeca tribes worked the mines in the early centuries because they were too busy fighting to expel the Spanish intruders from their territory. Most of the early miners came from the Aztec and Tlaxcalan areas to the south.

The Chichimecas' name has a variety of translations, including "blood-suckers" and "born of a line of dogs." The Aztecs gave them these names because they considered Chichimecas to be blood-thirsty barbarians. Since the Aztecs practiced wholesale human sacrifice, a custom unknown among the various tribes branded as Chichimeca, the name seems pretty hypocritical. It was true that the local tribes were ferocious warriors and expert at the unrelenting guerilla warfare they waged first against Aztec invaders and then for 50 years against the Spanish mining communities of Zacatecas. The conflict ended only when a more enlightened Spanish administration arrived and successfully purchased peace with tools, goods, food, and an end to the practice of enslaving the local indigenous population.

Dropping into the dark bowels of the earth. At the other end of the winch cable, a small cage carries a miner down into what must have seemed like hell. The average lifespan of an Indian miner was 36 years. During his working years, from the day he entered the mine until he died, he never saw daylight. The work day began well before dawn, and ended long after sunset. Accidents and mine-related illnesses were so common as to be beneath notice by the Spanish (and later Mexican) authorities. After the Mexican Revolution, when miners won the right to form unions and could demand better conditions, the lot of the miners improved.

Moving the ore was as laborious as carving it out. Above, a pair of mannequin miners push a heavily loaded mining cart along a narrow track. These old carts can be seen on the streets of Zacatecas and other old mining cities, often used now as planters. In earlier times, the ore was carried in wicker baskets on the backs of the Indians. The load could exceed 80-100 lbs. Often the Indian would have to climb from one level of the mine to another using rickety ladders or even ropes while burdened with these heavy loads.

Shrine created by miners helped them cope with the awful conditions. We found this little altar at the end of one tunnel.

Water sculpture adorns another tunnel niche. Someone created this lovely little sculpture out of materials and minerals from the mine. The water runs down the slot running the length of the sculpture and then pours into a pool at the bottom.

Visitors treat the pool below the water sculpture as a wishing well. We found the bottom of the pool covered with coins left by wishful tourists. Many of the coins found their way into this shallow clay pot.

Yet another kind of treasure. We found the odd looking sculpture above in the gift shop of El Eden Mine. The sculptor partially carved out ancient fossils from a sheet of rock. The fossils show that eons ago the tunnel deep in the mine where this rock originated was once the bed of a shallow sea.

The Baroque art of the Museum of Guadalupe

Cornstalk Christ. Some of the fabulous wealth carved with such effort from the Eden Mine was spent richly decorating religious buildings throughout Mexico. The figure above was sculpted in the 16th Century with an ancient technique using cornstalks as the frame and paper as a covering. We saw a similar crucifix figure on the wall of a church in San Miguel Allende. Because of the materials used, the figures are very fragile and great care must be used to maintain them.

We found this remarkable religious sculpture in the Museum of Guadalupe, formerly a convent called the College for the Propagation of the Faith of Our Lady of Guadalupe of Zacatecas, operated by the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church. The convent was shut down as a result of the Reform Laws of the 1850s, which aimed to curb the power of the church. The monks did what they could to maintain the old structure, but it passed through a variety of uses including soldiers' barracks and barn. In the 20th Century, it was finally recognized as an architectural treasure and restored. Part of the facility still functions as a church and convent. The Museum of Guadalupe is located facing the Jardin Juarez in Guadalupe, a town on the eastern outskirts of Zacatecas. The hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily, with a fee of $52 pesos ($4.00 USD).

A sculptor's workshop. Notice the partially formed torso held horizontally on a lathe-like device so that it could be turned. The tool on top of the form is a set of calipers for measuring the correct depth of a cut. In the 16th Century, the Spanish government created a system for organizing trades or gremios. The workshop shown above would have belonged to the gremio for sculptors. In each workshop a maestro, or master craftsman, directed the work. Long training was required to achieve this status, culminating in the creation of a "masterpiece", hence the modern term. This system also originated the Master of Arts Degree in higher education, for which one must write a master work known as a thesis. In the original gremios, the maestro oversaw the work of apprentices and ensured that required standards for that gremio were maintained. The apprentices were children or adolescents placed by their fathers under contract with the maestro. They were taught the trade and could eventually become maestros and establish their own workshops. This source of upward mobility was also available to the Indian population, which had produced fine craftsmen for centuries before the Spanish arrived and on whom the Spanish depended for much of the work on their religious and public buildings and their private mansions.

A full size Saint Francis seems eerily alive. At first glance, I almost expected Saint Francis to get up and greet me as I entered the chamber where he sat. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was the patron saint of animals and the environment. He founded the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, who were very active in Nueva Espana, building churches, schools, hospitals, and converting the Indians.

Santiago Matamoros. Saint James, Killer of Moors, was a somewhat less peaceable saint. Santiago was an especially important saint to the Spanish who credited him with helping them defeat the Moors in the 15th Century and drive them from Spain where they had dominated for 800 years. In the anonymous 17th Century sculpture above, an armed and armored Santiago, mounted on his military charger, tramples the bodies of slain Moors. Santiago is also credited by the Spanish conquistadors for their victory over the Indians around Queretaro. Legend has it that Santiago appeared in the sky and so overawed the Indians that they laid down their arms and surrendered.

Santa Ana, 18th Century. This figure, about 2 feet high, was carved by an anonymous artisan from wood. Saint Ana (Hannah in Hebrew) was the mother of the Virgin Mary and therefore Jesus' grandmother, according to Christian and Islamic tradition. Although there is no mention of her in either the Bible or the Koran, she has been venerated since at least the 6th Century. As an abuela, or grandmother she has special status in Mexican culture where abuelas are especially honored. Santa Ana is the patron saint of miners.

Santiago Caballero. Another figure of Santiago, again in a battle stance from an anonymous sculptor in the 18th Century. The Spanish, as conquerors, needed a religious underpinning for their Conquest. Otherwise it might simply be viewed as butchery, rape, theft, and enslavement. Similarly, the English and American conquerers liked to view themselves in biblical terms as "chosen people" with a "manifest destiny" to rule North America while committing genocide against the native people in their area.

Carved stone gargoyle. Figures like these were used to ornament water drain pipes off the roofs of religious buildings. The water would spout from the hole in the gargoyle's mouth.

La Virgen de Guadalupe. Classic painting showing the Virgin standing, hands folded, completely surrounded with a glowing halo. La Virgen de Guadalupe is the patron of Mexico, particularly of its indigenous people. La Virgen was first seen in the 16th Century, not long after the Conquest, by an Indian on a hill near a ruined temple to an indigenous goddess. The Church officials at first resisted the growing practice of worshipping La Virgen, but when it persisted they saw the wisdom of incorporating it into the Church tradition. After all, if the Church in the Dark Ages could transpose the tree-worshipping practices of the Germanic barbarians into the Christmas Tree, why not a adopt a pagan goddess and clothe her in Christian tradition? Ironically, because of La Virgen's appeal to common people, she was used as a rallying symbol by insurgents during the War of Independence against Spain.

A richly decorated stone cross. There was no sign indicating the origin of this old cross, but it probably sat on a steeple of a religious building for centuries before ending up in the Guadalupe Museum.

A bleeding Christ lies in the arms of an unidentified figure. I am always astounded, as a non-religious person but one raised in the Protestant tradition, at the graphic realism of Catholic religious art. The Christ figures are emaciated, and covered over with bleeding wounds, and the martyrdom of saints is often depicted in the most gory detail. Instead of repelling people, it seems to attract them.

This completes Part 3 of my series on Zacatecas. Next, I will focus on the Pedro Coronel Museum, site of the most extraordinary set of indigenous masks I have ever encountered. Appropriately, you will have the opportunity to view these mind-boggling and sometimes frightening creations when I post on Halloween weekend.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zacatecas Part 2: La Bufa & the Teleferico

Teleferico car appears to dangle between the steeples of the Zacatecas Cathedral. Two of the "must do" activities for a visitor to Zacatecas are a visit to La Bufa and a ride on the Teleferico. They can actually be accomplished at much the same time, since the most spectacular way to visit La Bufa is on the Teleferico, which has a station on the south side of town and one on the peak of La Bufa. During our visit to Zacatecas, Carole and I and our friends Denis, Julika, and Verena decided to take a 1/2 day-tour. We easily arranged this through the desk at our hotel, the Best Western Argento Inn. The cost was only $250 pesos per person (a little less than $20 USD). It was well worth the cost since it included van transportation, all entry fees, and the services of a dynamic young guide, Antonio, who was very well informed and spoke excellent English.

Cerro La Bufa looms above Zacatecas. At 8858 feet (2700m), this steep hill is the most prominent natural feature in the city. Above, you can see the Teleferico cables on the upper left as they dip down toward the city on their way to the station high above. On the peak of La Bufa mountain is a small Italian-built observatory. To its right you can see the strange hump of La Bufa rock. The heights of Cerro La Bufa gained fame as the site of the bloodiest battle of the Mexican Revolution, fought between Pancho Villa and the forces of the usurper-President Victoriano Huerta. Villa's men had to fight their way up the sides of La Bufa and thousands of soldiers were lost in the attack. When Cerro La Bufa fell, so did silver-rich Zacatecas, and so ultimately did Huerta who fled Mexico shortly afterward. He knew that the game was up when the riches of Zacatecas fell into Villa's hands.

A hill named for a pig's bladder. The Spanish, who arrived in 1546, thought the strange, humped rock on the crest of the hill looked like a partially deflated pig's bladder. Basques in Spain used such bladders to contain drinking water and wine and so the hill gained its famous name. Had we more time, and had I worn my hiking boots, I would have loved to clamber up the back of the rock. Maybe next time! At the base of the rock (to the left above) was a long flat plateau containing a number of interesting sites. One we were not able to visit, because it is closed on Mondays, is the Museo de la Toma de Zacatecas which contains material relating to Pancho Villa, the taking ("la Toma") of Zacatecas. We did see the huge statues of Villa and two of his generals on horseback. Villa is shown brandishing his Winchester rifle on a rearing horse. Unfortunately the light was poor, so I was unable to get any pictures of the statue.

The observatory gives a spectacular view. The observatory was founded in 1906, for meteorological purposes. One can see almost 360 degrees around the city.

The view from Cerro la Bufa. For all its other interesting attractions, La Bufa's real draw is its truly breath taking view. You are looking almost due east. On the lower right you can see the spires of the Cathedral and the other buildings of El Centro. There is more of the city to the south and west, as it snakes along the ravine below La Bufa and the others hills surrounding the town. Far to the east you can see the high desert mountains and plateaus. We picked a spectacularly clear day to visit La Bufa. Notice that the tallest buildings appear to be the Cathedral and other churches. The absence of modern glass and steel buildings was pleasing to my eye.

Bungee jumping over an ancient city. Antonio, our guide, told us that the city had just completed the bungee jumping ramp above. He informed us that he intended to have the honor of the first jump. The drop at the end of the ramp is truly awesome.

Capilla del Patrocinio celebrates the appearance of La Virgen on La Bufa. Above, Carole (L.) and Verena (R.) stroll through the long rectangular courtyard outside the chapel perched on the brow of La Bufa. In 1589, local people testified that the Virgin Mary had appeared on La Bufa. People in Zacatecas began to flock to the site to pay homage. In 1728, Bishop Gomez de Cervantes built a chapel to honor the Virgen del Patrocinio. The Capilla fell to ruin over time, but was rebuilt in 1795 by Bishop Rouset. The Virgen is also credited with helping deflect the invasion of Zacatecas by Americans in 1847.

Tiled portales run the length of both sides of the courtyard in front of the Capilla. Portales are arched, open hallways that are features of many colonial era buildings. They allow one shade on a hot day, and protection from rain when the weather is inclement. A beautiful volcanic stone known as red cantera is the building material here, as it is on many lovely old buildings in Zacatecas.

The shoe makers' coat-of-arms. Various trades and occupations were organizied into "gremios" centuries ago and these gremios still are active in religious and social life. So many people wanted to visit the Capilla during fiestas, that the authorities decreed that people should visit on particular days according to their gremio. The various gremios in Zacatecas placed plaques with their coats-of-arms on the walls to indicate the devotion of the members of that occupational group. The plaque above was placed by the Gremio de Zapateros (shoe makers).

The Altar of la Virgen del Patrocinio. Inside the Capilla was a small sanctuary with a gorgeous altar at the head. La Virgen is obviously still held in high esteem.

La Virgen del Patrocinio, herself. At various times of the year, the statue of la Virgen is removed from the Capilla and moved around from church to church and even from town to town in religious processions with thousands of participants.

El Cubo Aqueducto was constructed more than 250 years ago. The major source of clean water in Zacatecas for centuries, the aqueduct fell out of use when the city grew too large. In 1921, local authorities decided to preserve El Cubo Aqueducto for its beauty and architectural value. This aqueduct is not significantly different in design or function from those built by the Romans 2000 years ago. The orange-colored, semi-circular building just in front of the Aqueduct is the Quinta Real Hotel, built perfectly into the 17th Century structure of the old San Pedro bull ring. This is one of the world's most unusual hotels, but a little spendy for my taste ($400-500 USD/night).

Cathedral de Zacatecas. This photo, shot from the balcony of the Capilla del Patrocinio, shows the dome and steeples of the old Cathedral from the rear. Notice the arched "flying buttresses" along the sides. This was an feature created by medieval architects to allow very tall walls without the necessity of making them too thick.

Templo Santo Domingo. The Templo is located on the street just behind our hotel. It was built between 1746-1750 by the Jesuit Order. The architect was Father Ignacio Calderon. The sponsor was Don Vicente Zaldivar, whose wife, Dona Ana Temino de Banuelos, was daughter of one of Zacatecas' founders. The Templo was abandoned in 1767 when the Jesuits were expelled from the New World. However in 1785, the Templo was taken over by the Dominican Order. Among Zacatecas' many religious buildings, the Templo Santo Domingo is second only in importance to the Cathedral. Unfortunately, the interior was undergoing renovation while we were in Zacatecas, so I couldn't photograph inside.

A jaw dropping ride through the sky. One of the cars of the Teleferico rises toward Cerro La Bufa station. We took the tour van to the top of La Bufa, then rode the Teleferico down. The ride was smooth, gentle, but spectacular as we drifted hundreds of feet over colonial El Centro. Riding the Teleferico gives you a perspective on the city you can find no other way. The Swiss-built Teleferico was opened in 1979.

Cerro La Bufa station. The station at the top contains a gift shop and a restaurant/bar. We talked about returning for a drink at sunset, but never got around to it. Definitely, next time. The red-topped tower of the observatory is behind and to the left of the station.

The tiny car rises above a pastel colored Zacatecas neighborhood. You can see from this photo how high the Teleferico car rises above the city, and how the neighborhoods are built right up the sides of the hills surrounding the ravine.

View of the Cathedral from the lower Teleferico station. The two steeples are topped with domes that are covered with blue tiles. The cantera is turning a deep rust color in the late afternoon sun.

Zacatecas basks in the evening sun. The photo was also taken from the lower Teleferico station. Again, you can see the low profile of the Zacatecas, which gives it a human scale lacking in more modern cities.

This completes Part 2 of my Zacatecas series. In the next installment, we will tour the Eden Mine, a hell-hole in its day that was far from its unintentionally ironic name. I hope you enjoyed this installment as much as I enjoyed preparing it. Feel free to pass the link to this blog to friends and family, and also to comment either below or by emailing me directly. If you leave a question in the Comments section below, please be sure to leave your email so that I can answer you.

Hasta luego! Jim