Friday, January 8, 2016

Zamora Part 7: Random rambles in the Centro Historico

Tidy, well-kept streets with lovely old architecture characterize Zamora's Centro Historico. One of the activities we like best, when visiting a new place, is to simply wander the streets. This yields many small but interesting details for my photography, as well good people-watching, a favorite activity of Carole's. Above, we are looking down Calle Cázares toward its intersection with Calle Hidalgo. The steeple of Templo San Francisco peeps over the rooftop in the background. You will find iron benches wherever you go in Mexico, often set under shady trees, ready for the weary stroller.

View down Calle Allende, one of the town's pedestrian-only streets that lead to Plaza Zamora. More benches line this interesting walkway. In this case, they have formed handy places to park a bicycle and a motorcycle. It is always a relief to encounter one of these refuges from the rush of traffic and smell of exhaust fumes.

Little details like this door knocker tend to catch my eye. The old iron knocker is set off nicely by the cracked paint on the wooden door. It looks to be of 18th or possibly 19th century design.

A jolly workman cavorts in front of Templo San Francisco. By his clothing and bucket, I would guess that he makes his living washing the cars of people who park along the street. You will find these guys everywhere (and they are nearly always men). It's often very convenient to have them clean your car when you have a spare 30 minutes or so. They do a good job and generally charge only about $30 pesos (about $2.00 USD). This fellow seemed surprised when I asked to take his photo but then decided to have fun with it.

Café Expendio is located across Calle Hidalgo from Templo San Francisco. Café means "coffee" and expendio means "small shop", so this is a place where you can buy a cup of coffee and maybe a pastry. Notice the decorative door frames. This building used to be someone's mansion, probably built in the 19th century. The wealthy of earlier eras generally built their town houses in the most prestigious areas--on or near a plaza. In modern times, these structures have been transformed into the many small shops you typically find around a plaza.

Iconic photo from the Mexican Revolution. This famous photo by German photographer Hugh Brehme was taken in Aguascalientes during a meeting of Revolutionary leaders in late 1914. The Convention of Aguascalientes sought, unsuccessfully, to end the fighting and form a new government. The soldiers on the cowcatcher are followers of Emiliano Zapata, called Zapatistas. The mechanista (railroad mechanicin the dark suit, standing to the left of the soldiers, is Wesley Daniel Brockway, an American railroad employee. In my blog post on the Aguascalientes Railway Museum, I had published a cropped version of this same photo that excluded the man in the grey suit with his hands on his hips. Some months before our Zamora trip, the mechanista's grandson, Wes Brockway, contacted me through my blog's comments section. He asked if I had the full photo, which included his great-grandfather, William Brockway--the grey suited man. After extensively searching my photo files and the internet, I failed to come up with anything but the cropped version. Much later, while strolling through Zamora, Carole and I stopped to eat at a rather nondescript restaurant. As we waited for our order, I wandered around the place, looking at the old photos on the walls. I almost passed this one by, but then noticed that it is the full version, including William Brockway! I quickly took a shot of this rare version and emailed it to Wes Brockway upon our return to Ajijic.

Decorative lintel above a doorway. This one has a crack in the middle and has obviously seen better days. The door way is part of a structure that was built at least in the 19th century and possibly earlier.

Carole passes another doorway, this one leading to a lawyer's office. Notice the sign on the right advertising abogados, spanish for "attorneys". The width of the door indicates it was once the main entrance of a mansion, possibly even the carriage entrance.

19th century apartment building, located on Calle Melchor Ocampo. As with many of these old buildings, the ground floor has been transformed into a multitude of small stores, including Yasmine's Boutique, and one of the ubiquitous "Telcel" cell phone stores. Telcel is owned by Carlos Slim, a billionaire who long ago immigrated from Lebanon. He is Mexico's richest man and one of the richest in the world. Slim also owns Telmex, the land-line system. He recently cut a deal with the Mexican government which now allows Telmex customers to call anywhere in Mexico or North America for free.

Keystone over a doorway arch. This magnificent architectural detail is typical of the 18th and 19th centuries. Notice the graceful lines and floral decorations. The arch, as an architectural feature, first appeared in Mesopotamia in the second millennium. However, it was not until the time of the Roman Empire that they were used extensively. The true arch was unknown in pre-hispanic Mexico and only appeared after the Spanish arrival.

This completes Part 7 of my Zamora series. I hope you enjoyed it and, if so, you will leave any thoughts, comments, or questions in the Comments section below or email me directly. If you leave a question in the Comments section PLEASE leave your email address so that I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this wonderful series on Zamora. I was curious about it as a stopover between Uruapan and Guadalajara, as I research a fantasy trip from CDMX to Malinalco, Valle de Bravo, Morelia, Patzcuaro, and onward. Don't know if we'll ever take the trip, but it was fun to read your blog!


If your comment involves a question, please leave your email address so I can answer you. Thanks, Jim