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We arrive in Zacatecas after dark and make our way through the bustling town to find Victor, our couch-surfing host, in his student digs.

Zacatecas - a bustling lively town, with great markets.

Victor lives near the centre of town in a tiny semi-derelict house. Amazingly, the limited space Victor has at his disposal doesn’t prevent him from unquestioningly offering four cyclists accommodation. Victor is a member of one of Mexico’s only reggae bands and his house appears to be something of a hub of alternative social activity in Zacatecas. The main room downstairs houses a drum kit and equipment for band practice.

Once our four bikes and all our gear are also installed there is little room for anything or anyone else. Victor gives up his tiny bedroom to accommodate us and goes to sleep at a friend’s house while the four of us squeeze in where we can, spreading out our sleeping maps on the bare concrete floor. I opt for bedding down in the closet. When the morning reveals that the bathroom doesn’t boast running water, Cass is the first to crack and flees for a hostel.

Victor, our first couch surfing host, in his student digs.

Jeff, Jason and I spend a day exploring the bustling markets around the centre and then wander up to La Bufa, the hill overlooking town, to investigate a museum on the history of the Mexican Revolution. The photos are fascinating but I leave without feeling I understand much more of this confusing episode in Mexican history.

Pancho Villa. Viva la revolucion!

Pancho Villa: Viva la Revolucion!

A girl in the market attracts Jeff's attention. She is selling an intriguing array of products to address any number of ailments and problems...

... including an odd collection of herbal teas.

After another night with Victor, Jeff and I opt to move in with another couch surfer for a few days, in the suburbs between Zacatecas and Guadalupe. Monica, and her daugher Andrea, generously put us up in their very comfortable home, where there is ample outdoor space for us to do some much needed maintenance work on our bikes and repair various items camping gear. There is also a sewing machine that Monica kindly has repaired and  Jeff dedicates a couple of days to finishing his frame bags – a ongoing series of sewing projects that started back in Silver City.

The days at Monica’s are very well spent but after a short time in the suburbs we are keen to meet up with Jason and Cass in Zacatecas again.


The aspirations of the middle-class in Mexico.

The dirtbag gang is reunited at Hostel Villa Colonial, a relaxed hostel overlooking the cathedral, but Zacatecas marks the end of an era – my way diverges here from that of the rest of the gang; the boys are keen to strike out for the coast and I am heading towards Puebla.

The view of the cathedral from the roof of the hostel...

... and a detail of the hectic facade.

Cowboys in town - Zacatecas is still cowboy country but it is, apparently, something of a border zone and further south the culture starts to change.

Zacatecas is a town of curiosities.

So, after another day or so organising themselves, Jeff, Jason and Cass head off toward Guadalajara and I am left alone in the hostel dormitory. The next day heavy rains fall and I stay a few extra days in Zacatecas, contemplating my future as a solo traveller again.

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