Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bus to Aguascalientes


      From La Quemada ruin I reached Villanueva by cab and then bused back to Zacatecas to catch a bus back to Aguascalientes.  After a few days there, I planned bus to San Luis Potosi, then bus south to Guanajuato, then south again to Tula Hidalgo for a visit to the ruins of Tula.  From Tula I wanted to go to Mexico Norte Station for a bus to the ruin of Teotihuacan.  From there I would bus to Poza Rica to visit the ruin site of El Tajin.  Then I planned to bus to Jalapa to visit the Museum of Anthropology and the Olmec heads.  From Veracruz I would bus north about 600 miles via ADO to the US border.

The Cathedral and the 
pedestrian-only area around
 the plaza of Aguascalientes
     I reached Aguascalientes City from Zacatecas in two hours aboard an ETN Bus for 150 pesos.  Once out of the bus terminal I took a cab to the Centro Historic district of the city.  The cab driver was full of pride about his city and recounted history as we drove towards Centro Historico.
     Aguascalientes is the capital of the State of the same name, he said, and the city and State are located in the north central part of Mexico, about 300 miles north of Mexico City.  The area gets its name from the thermal springs below ground where volcanic activity is constant.  Hot waters, they call the place, he told me, and some people call the residents hot water people or hidrocálidos.
     I had been to Aguascalientes on two earlier trips and I loved the city.  I enjoyed the driver's enthusiasm for his city because I knew I had not yet seen all there is to be seen
     He told me about the San Marcos Fair, the most noteworthy event in the city of Aguascalientes and perhaps the premier fair event in all Mexico.  In the middle of his description of the fair he suddenly swerved into the driveway of a small hotel and left the cab to head into the lobby.  He soon emerged with a fistful of brochures for me that covered all the tourist activities.  I took his cell number and made a note to hire him later if I needed a tour of the city.
     He continued to tell me about the city as we drove toward the center.  The fair spreads throughout the pedestrian-only streets around the colonial center, he said, and has become a draw for tourists who come to Aguascalientes by the millions via the new high speed highways or via the international airport that serves through Mexico City and southern USA cities including Houston.

San Marcos Gardens, a short walk west
 of the cathedral
    He then recounted the history of the city.  The city was founded in the 1500s he told me; 1557, I remembered from tourist brochures I had read.  It had been a way station on stagecoach routes but soon grew to become a town of several barrios which then became the capital of a State of Mexico in 1835.  Those barrios are still intact more or less and give the city its great historic flavor.
     Of the barrios, Guadalupe Barrio is noted for its beautiful cemeteries.  Triana is noted for its colonial architecture and is the oldest neighborhood in the city, and the San Marcos Barrio offers the San Marcos Gardens and neighborhood where much of the fair takes place in front of the baroque San Marcos Church at the end of the garden.  The driver also told me not to miss the José Guadalupe Posada Museum and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
     As we drove I mentioned that the city gave the impression that it was wealthy and he assured me that industry was booming on the roads and highways that ring the city where industrial parks employ many people in a high tech auto industry and in electronics.  I had seen it earlier when I came in by bus, the largest Nissan plant outside Japan is located on the road outside the city.
    His talk went back to the San Marcos Fair and the crowds that come during the middle of April to the beginning of May.  The fair was at first small and was held in front of the baroque San Marcos Church and in the adjacent San Marcos Gardens.  The fair has grown over the years and now is so large and widespread that buildings in the entire city participate including the two bullrings where bullfights are held, the new theme parks, the theaters and performance stages, the modern convention center, and the casino where gambling is offered.   
     Another building that he said was a must see was the Government Palace which was built in 1664 and contains over a hundred arches in the interior and also contains murals painted by Oswaldo Barra.  I had visited the government palace on my earlier trip and It is indeed unique with its maze of arches.
     Another landmark of interest was the Cathedral which was built starting in 1575.  This is the oldest building in the city, he said.  I remembered some of these landmarks from my earlier visit but what impressed me most had been the extensive area given over to pedestrian only activities.  Aguascalientes is made for walking.

     We neared the Centro Historico and I thought I might hire him right then for a one hour tour he was so full of good information about the city but I was tired and wanted to put into a hotel for an afternoon snooze. We reached the Plaza de la Patria and I thanked him for his great info; he had given me a great overview of the City of Aguascalientes.

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