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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Parking overnite in Zacatecas

I retrace my steps down the mountain. I do not want to risk taking another way because I know where I am going when I go ‘backwards’. When I get to part of the mountain where the buildings begin, I find my way back down through the city streets.

I get to the spot where the guys are drinking and their number has increased several fold.

My old ‘friend’ recognizes me and looks amazed. He incredulously inquires if I made it all the way. He, even more drunk now, proudly wants to shake my hand, and then tries to pull me into an embrace. I laugh at him and push him down, he has to let go of my hand. The other guys hoot and howl as I leave them to their camaraderie, fire and their drinking.

I find my way back under the building over the road and to the church near to where my truck is parked. The Starbucks is open now. I am thrilled to see them, not because it is starbucks but because I know that wherever they are, independent competitors will thrive close by.

And I will matronize them.

And sure enough, there are two other coffee shops, with cyber, in a radius of three blocks –but the others are closed until tomorrow. This starbucks is inside a hotel, of course, so they are open. 

The stores selling alcohol and candy seem to be open, as well as gift stores and many restaurants. 

The streets have filled with people – Zacatecas is quite an international city – or a city that attracts people from all over. I hear French spoken and see Asian tourists as well as many Mexican tourists.

There are lots of street vendors, even tho the streets are narrow, and there’s several rows of empty bleachers set up on the town square facing an ice skating rink that patiently awaits skaters. There is also a large movie or tv screen and huge speakers at the end of the plaza so obviously other happenings are going to occur.

I write and blog until it’s time for me to find a place to park for the night. I’d really like to stay parked here, downtown, but I’ve asked and I don’t think it’s an acceptable thing to do. When I arrived this morning there were hardly any cars.

So I decide to head back to check out the huge park I saw coming into town but when I get to the park, I see there is no overnight parking near it that isn’t really obvious. There is only a parking lot that is rapidly emptying and I’m sure it will be totally emptied as soon as it is completely dark.

I drive around a little and find a side street where there are houses on one side and empty land on the other side. I park next to the empty side and across from the houses. There are cars parked on this side of the street – and there’s a picnic table and huge barbeque pit amongst the trees and bushes. And little sign of humans using this picnic area.

I’m happy here. I keep hearing loud booms that I hope are not gun shots but fireworks for xmas. I’ve been hearing them since last night so I’m sure it’s some kind of xmas thang. Cross fingers! I have yet to have any trouble parking – not counting the guy who pissed on my tire and the cop who was checking the truck out… not bad for 6 weeks!

At the top! Cerro de la Bufa Zacatecas

As I reach the top, people are starting to spread out along the road in front of the building, selling mostly jewelry they have made. They lay down a blanket and then in perfect rows, spread out earrings and bracelets and necklaces, in perfect order by color and size and shape. Each vendor seems to have one blanket of goods.

And all the vendors appear to be indigenous people.

There are signs for tourists, conveniently in english and Spanish so I can read where I am at, that point out the directions to the “plaza of the revolution”, the telescopes, the museum.

The heaviness I’ve felt all morning increases here. When I drove in last nite, I couldn't figure out why there are so many people here, in the middle of nowhere, with no visible water mass, no forest, no visible industry.

I read the plaques and find out the fuckin Spanish came here to exploit indigenous people and their silver and gold mines in the mid 1500’s. For 10,000 years prior to the Conquistadors, several different peoples lived together here, including the Zacateca.

The “revolution” was that against Spain prompted by a priest Hidalgo in the early 1800. But it seems to be a revolution similar to ours, of the decedents of the conquerors wanting to break the economic ties with their ‘mother country’, in this case Spain not England. Not for the freedom of the original peoples.

I walk around, reading all the signs, and feeling really grateful I am not of Spanish descent. The first thing the Spaniards did when they came here to conquer the people was to build this fortress on top of these peaks so they could get control of the entire city.

One of the buildings was a church that was later destroyed, then rebuilt and used as an “asylum” … hmmmm… and now is a church again. I want to return tomorrow when the museum is open to find out more.

 I continue climbing to all the different buildings on the 3 peaks here. More and more people arrive and I see there is an asphalt road to the top. I’m reminded of that commercial where the father is taking the son to a secret fishing hole, hacking their way, stumbling and forging through the wilderness to burst onto the fishing spot that is crowded with tons of people who have driven in!

To the top! Zacatecas

I cannot resist taking one of the side streets. I can see that at the end of the block, the building spans over top of the street . I walk down the several stairs and continue on the street. There are several businesses and a hotel here on both sides of the street. Then I go out under the building that reaches across the street and see the road continues upward.

I climb up the narrow stone streets, sometimes in the street, sometimes there are stairs going upward. All the streets have solid rows of buildings on each side. Some are obviously stores and have the business name written on it; some are homes with sounds of chickens audible.

When I reach the top of one stairway, to the left around the corner and buildings, there are about 5 or 6 men huddled around a fire. They are all drinking from huge fat bottles of beer and it is barely 8am.

I great them as I turn to continue going up stairs away from them. One of the guys comes over and speaks to me.  He notices the map I am carrying and points out where we are now.

And he points out the highest place on the map, the direction in which I am going. He wants to accompany me there. I thank him politely and tell him I’m going by myself. He shakes my hand and wants to give me a hug, a feliz navidad hug – I firmly hold him back and tell him no hugs.

Another man with the same huge bottle calls out to me. He has on a full-length black leather coat and matching hat. He points up to the top of the mountain and tells me he’ll show me the way. I thank him and tell him I am going by myself, sola.

And I continue up the steep stone roads and stairs. I see the united poor people of the barrio office and make a note to come back Monday, if I’m still here.

When I reach the end of the buildings and the last road, I see the stone road joins an asphalt road a block away. As I walk the stone road, I see a basketball court carved into the side of the hill just below the road, so one length of the court ends at the edge of the cliff, with a tall fence on all sides and the fence on this side reaching all the way up to where I’m at.

I start to follow the pavement a little ways until I see a red clay path up the mountain. I take that path. I climb and climb and climb. The path seems to have been made by pink cement or clay. And golden grass lays across it too where it has been recently mowed.

I stop frequently, to catch my breath, but to also gaze out over the city, and get my bearings so I don’t get lost – but I just have to head down and I’ll be fine!

I pick my way up the hill as the pink cement changes to little pink stones and then there’s no stones but just a mowed path. Suddenly a cave appears in the side of the mountain – a cave strewn with little, evidence of humans, maybe even living in this cave.

I peek in but do not go in. I keep climbing up the mountain, trying to figure out the right path. I get very very high when the path seems to end at really narrow, steep steps that disappear. I attempt to climb but then give up. I know if my friend Bridget were here, we would make it up the hill.

I go back down to a place where the path splits and this time I decide to take the other split. It takes me around the mountain to the opposite side. There is much more vegetation on this side and suddenly the path joins a narrow stone road and stone steps that appears to go up. Every few feet there is a stone cross in the side of the path upward.

I finally reach what appears to be the top. There is a huge building that looks like it could be a church on top and a stone road along the side that leads to another building. People are walking down the road from above, carrying their wares to the side of the road.

Oh my

Oh my, I drive into town this morning, following the signs for "Centro", passing a huge, beautiful park with what appears to be a large lake inside it - and maybe parking for tonite - and reach what seems to be a really old pueblo.

Zacatecas appears huge, with small connected pastel houses sprawling from the common valley up the sides of several mountain peaks. The road I take into the city looks newly paved and is scattered with topes. Suddenly I drive through huge archways and the pavement ends and the ‘cobblestone’ roads begin.

I park my truck here in what appears to be the “centro”. I am overwhelmed with something that is moving me to tears. I am touched by the simple beauty, by the obvious old age, by the colors. I don’t know what it is, but I do know that I am not leaving this town today. Maybe not even tomorrow.

The streets are made of square, maybe 14”x14” blocks of granite or some terribly hard rock. At first they look rectangular but when I take a closer look, they are square with cement or clay in between each stone.

I attempt to fathom how people were able to cut these stones and lay them so perfectly yet so obviously hand-made. I think maybe only these main streets in the centro are stones, but as I look up narrow side streets, they are all made of stone. And so are the sidewalks.

I go into the nearest hotel – the only businesses that appear to be open at this hour and on this day. I ask the womon behind the desk for a map of Zacatecas.

The buildings are one or two stories, maybe a couple are 3 stories, and are pale pastels, mostly pinks in color. There are several ‘castles’ or cathedrals, churches maybe, that look older than god. And many museums, all closed.

I walk around, having the entire centro almost to myself. There are only a few other people walking about and first I think it is because it is deserted like streets in the u.s. on xmas. But the streets will fill eventually with people, it’s just early!

Every building is attached to the next building and they are mostly small with doorways that stand 15 feet tall maybe. I can’t resist running my fingers over, admiring the old doors, the iron works covering tall, narrow windows, the amazing designs on the sides and corners of buildings.

I read every sign. There are shops of every kind, dentists, veterinarians, schools, and several really old hotels. Museums. And a few protest flyers pasted to walls and doors. I take a picture with my cell phone and will have to translate them later.