When I was planning my trip, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to Sombrerete. It’s a two-hour drive from Zacatecas, and I thought I might prefer to spend my time seeing sights in the city.
But I made the trip yesterday. And it turned out to be one of the high points of the trip.
Only it wasn’t because of Sombrerete.
The drive to Sombrerete followed a toll road for the first half, and a two-lane highway the rest of the way. The toll-road was not as well-maintained as the two-lane highway. I don’t think that’s right. If you’re paying a toll, they should be using the money to keep the pavement in good condition.
Sombrerete is supposedly the most photogenic of the Pueblos Mágicos. (The state of Zacatecas claims that each of its six Pueblos Mágicos is the most something. Maybe Sombrerete is just the most photogenic in the state.) I did find this charming town to be very attractive. Many churches, a wide boulevard, and pretty parks beg for photos.
Check out my Sombrerete photo album for all my pics of this pretty town.
Sierra de Órganos
As nice as Sombrerete was, I don’t think it was worth a four-hour round trip.
Happily, I learned of a scenic National Park nearby. And that park–Parque Nacional Sierra de Órganos–turned out to be a visual feast and one of the highlights of my road trip so far.
According to Wikipedia,
The park is known for its diverse aridland ecosystem and towering rock formations of the Sierra Madre Occidental, which are reminiscent of organ pipe cacti or the pipes of the musical instrument, from which the park takes its name.
In addition to conifer forests in the highlands and xerophilous scrub in the lowlands, Sierra de Órganos is a refuge for several species of animals endemic to the region and others in danger of extinction. It is a popular area for recreation, including hiking and cycling, and for the scenic beauty of its landscapes.Wikipedia
I didn’t see much wildlife. Just one lizard. But the rock formations left me awestruck. I stopped the car frequently for photo opps or just to gaze. And I took a short hike (the sun was too strong for anything more than that). Taco got to run free, which she enjoyed immensely.
It was a long day. I didn’t get back to Zacatecas until almost 6pm. And I was tired. The Spanish word asoleado means “sunny,” but it also means overly tired from spending too much time in the sun. I felt asoleado.
Still, I dragged myself out of the house to get a really nice steak dinner at Garufa, an Argentinian restaurant with another location in Ajijic. I’ve never eaten there, though, so I decided to give it a whirl. And it was the best steak I’ve had in Mexico.
La Quemada and Jerez
I was really looking forward to seeing the ancient ruins of La Quemada, about a 45-minute drive from Zacatecas. In the same general direction is the Pueblo Mágico of Jerez de García Salinas. So I combined these two destinations into a day trip today.
When I arrived at La Quemada, they gave me a temperature check and a squirt of hand sanitizer. I asked about bringing Taco, and they said no pets. I could have left her at the car. And I regret not doing that. But I U‑turned and drove on to Jerez.
I think I was too tired after the long day yesterday in the sun.
Jerez was another disappointing Pueblo Mágico. A few pretty things, but not really worth the trip. I did enjoy walking through the mercado, though, and I took a break to enjoy a jugo verde that was very good.
Because I didn’t get to see La Quemada, I got back to Zacatecas by noon. So I decided to take advantage of my last day here to visit some museums. I had to trust Taco to stay alone in the apartment and behave herself. It was the first time on the trip I didn’t take her with me.
Lonely Planet Mexico lists two museums as the top sights in Zacatecas. So I visited them both.
Museo del Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez
This museum is dedicated to abstract art, primarily, but not exclusively, by Mexican artists. The collection is impressive, and the building itself is remarkable. Originally a seminary, in the twentieth century it became a prison. Its transformation into exhibit space was very effective. The museum’s display consists in large part of works by its namesake, Manuel Felguérez (1928–2020). Many other artists’ works are also on exhibit, including a number of large murals commissioned from Mexican artists for the Mexico Pavillion at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan.
I appreciate, admire, and respect the artistry of abstract painting and sculpture. I liked much of the work in this museum. But I wasn’t moved by any of it. In fact, I found myself getting annoyed. Here’s all this excellent work by brilliant artists, and it didn’t evoke any emotional or spiritual or aesthetic response in me.
Then I started thinking that maybe that’s the point of abstract art. Maybe it’s not supposed to inspire. Maybe it’s just supposed to exist. And maybe my annoyance was the appropriate response.
I don’t know. And maybe that’s the point too.
I took a number of photos. Here are some samples. You judge for yourself.
Museo Pedro Coronel
Pedro Coronel (1923–1985) is a Zacatecan painter and sculptor, born in Jerez. He bequeathed his substantial art collection, including much of his own work, to the people of Mexico. This museum, housed in a former Jesuit college, exhibits his collection.
Unfortunately, most of the museum is closed due to Covid. What little was open was completely unimpressive to me. So I went through in less than fifteen minutes, and I didn’t take any photos.
Taco was very happy to see me when I got back to the apartment. She didn’t chew any furniture in my absence. Good girl, Taco.
Tomorrow we depart Zacatecas. Stay tuned for more.