Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Horses, silver, cactus and mountains
This last weekend was a public holiday so I piled into a small VW beetle with a load of French students and we set off for a weekend of camping and horseriding in Mexico's arid, beautiful north country.
We camped on a savannah-like plain outside of the silver-mining colonial town of Zacatecas. There was no one, just us, cows and cactuses. And the boys burnt an amazing amount of grass in making what they called a bonfire of 'puta madre'. (perhaps best not to translate that here).
But the highlight was definitely our sojourn in Real de Catorce, a ghostlike old mining town boxed in by high, dry mountains. It is an amazing, eery place.
We rented horses and set off high up above the town, and peered down long abandoned silver mine shafts 300m deep... we gasped as we threw large stones to the bottom and held our breath waiting for the sound of them hitting the bottom of the mine.
At first I was slightly nervous about horseriding as my memories of this activity derive from 12 yr old clumsy experiences... but I couldnt have enjoyed it more.
I certainly had a couple of Indiana-Jones-and-the-Last-Crusade ´leap of faith´moments, such as when we were winding down a steep narrow path and I had to veer my horse around the side of a sheer drop beside me.
On our final day we arose before dawn and rode the horses high up to the Sacred Mountain of the Huichol people, to be greeted by a gatekeeper of the sacred site who emerged from a little stone hut, with a fluffy moustache and a little candle.
We kept climbing and climbing, and we reached the snow line, galloping with the horses through the mist and surrounded by cactuses covered in snow - such tenacious creatures cacti. And yummy to eat too!
It was the sort of scenery that provokes dramatic scences in your mind - cold blooded murders, passionate love scenes in the desert, cunning escapes... all these images leap involuntarily into your mind as you ride along.
I didnt have batteries in my camera so will load some borrowed photos shortly!