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getting to zacatecas

After two days in Durango, we strike out again for Zacatecas. The guys have been busy developing their biking network in Durango and so we have an escort out of town; Miguelito offers to accompany us for the first 50 kilometres to guide us on the back roads. We meet Miguelito at the cathedral at 10 o’clock and he waits, very patiently, while we spend another couple of hours chasing various errands until we finally manage a tardy departure at about midday.

Cathedral

The cathedral in Durango. Durango is the biggest town we have passed through in Mexico and has some fine examples of colonial architecture.

As we got off to a late start we are slightly pressed for time becasue Miguelito is being met by his wife for a lift back to Durango but the riding is pretty easy as we pass through mostly flat agricultural land.

A flock of yellow-headed blackbirds rises in waves, moving across the field where they are feeding.

We stop for a moment for a quick lunch by an impressive water fall and then continue.

There is a quite a lot of water moving through here.

Finally we reach a town, intriguingly called Nombre de Dios (Name of God), where Miguelito’s wife and two grown-up children are waiting for us with a generous pile of tuna sandwiches and soft drinks.

Church

The church towers in Nombre de Dios.

By the time we say goodbye to Miguelito and his family the sun is nearing the horizon and as the next part of our route is on a busy highway our priority is to find a place to camp so we can get off the road before dark. We ride until we find a gate we can open on a track leading to a half-constructed building in a field with enough trees to hide us from the view of passing traffic.

The next morning we have to cover thirty-five kilometres on the paved highway to the bustling town of Vincent Guerrero where we stock up on food for the next section of the trip.

Serious tortilla machinery at the tortilleria in Vincent Guerrero.

We leave town on a highway still under construction – the cars are restricted to a dusty gravel track running parallel to the unfinished road while we coast along using the smooth flawless concrete surface as a bicycle lane.

An almost finished highway becomes our private cycle lane. As you can see, a few car drivers tried the same trick but the occasional deep trench across the incomplete road was enough to deter most of them. (Photo: Jeff Volk.)

Before long we find ourselves back on gravel, riding in glorious afternoon light.

colour field

Colours glowing in the afternoon light.

Jeff crossing the fields.

A gentle sunset sky.

A gentle sunset sky.

We camp in a dry wash in a field before setting off again in the morning.

Cass setting off in the morning light.

Jeff riding the fields.

Our first stop is a small undistinguished village with a single shop. As we exit the settlement we are astonished to see a huge brand new structure which, on closer investigation, turns out to be a rodeo arena. It seems that we are still in cowboy country, although the boys have turned out to be fair weather cowboys and the hats now spend more time strapped to the back of their bikes than on their heads.

A brand-new rodeo arena in an otherwise undistinguished and impoverished village.

Our next surprise is a section of cobbled road leading through fields dotted with what appear to be Joshua trees.

A couple of kilometres of cobble stone road in the middle of the fields.

However, soon enough the road surface changes again and we ride through the plains and low rocky hills on roads that are pretty close to perfection.

A sunny afternoon spent riding ...

... in gorgeous landscape.

A colourful patchwork of fields in the valley below.

The evening brings us to another village with a slightly post-apocolyptic air. We make our way through it and camp a few kilometres away beside the road.

and desolate villages

Zacatecas is one of the poorest states in Mexico - a condition evident in the general ambiance of the villages.

The morning brings another desolate village and more great riding.

We attract quite a bit of attention on the streets of this village.

The villagers try to dissuade us from our chosen route, saying the road is terrible, but rocks and river crossings are nothing new to the dirtbag gang.

Cass and Jeff cruising, seemingly effortlessly, up the hill.

I am amused to unexpectedly find myself in Nueva Australia – I ponder the possibilities: did some homesick antipodean migrant settle here and christen the place, which now seems all but abandoned?

A reluctant Australian posing in front of the Nueva Australia sign.

We emerge from the fields into El Meguay, a village that clearly has a history. The main plaza faces an impressive cathedral with a lovely tiled dome.

The cathedral in El Meguay.

As we ride out of El Meguay, with the sun low in the sky, Jason discovers that he has a flat tyre. Since he also started the day mending a puncture he is not overly pleased and the sun is setting by the time we are on the road again to cover the last fifteen kilometres to Zacatecas.

{ 5 } Comments

  1. John Obert | February 20, 2010 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Incredible!. Absolutely incredible. I really, really hope y’all make it all the way. You really must bike across the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. Really great pics. Best of luck to you.

    John

  2. Narz | February 23, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Looks amazing, Anna. Can’t wait to here all your stories! Love Narz xxx

  3. brenda | September 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    well good thing you went through zacatecas. i’m actually from el maguey… p.s. you spelled it wrong …just a heads up i hoped you visted my grandfather tortilla factory…..

  4. Daniel | January 31, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    It looks like you went from Vicente Guerrero to Gualterio (passing through Suchil), which way did you go from there to get to Nueva Australia?

  5. SenorFreebie | May 14, 2016 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    There’s not a lot of mentions of Nueva Australia elsewhere, but to answer your pondering; it was an attempted Communist colony set up by a journalist and some sheep shearers. A few hundred of them left Australia during the 1890s recession, and Paraguay, having just fought a war, and lost most of it’s military age men, was more than happy to have new people come.

    Nueva Londres still had some Australian descendent Paraguayans in it, but most of them are spread around the rest of the country.

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