Home / Journal / Pachuca, we thank you

 

After some peace and quiet in Michoacán, our plan was to revisit the city of Pachuca—somewhere we had overnighted on our expedited way down to Oaxaca nearly three weeks earlier (detailed here in a previous entry).

While riding there, we almost ran out of fuel when we expected to find another station within the next few miles after that having been the case for the previous 75. We pulled off the autopista in the town of Jilotepec, hoping to find a service station. After inquiring at the toll booth, we were relieved to turn the corner and see a fairly modern station with a Circle K convenience store.

We struck up a conversation with the attendant as he refueled our motos and discovered he had lived in Minnesota for five years while attending school in Minneapolis. This world gets smaller by the day.

A long day of riding was finally rewarded with arrival at our lodgings for the next five days in Pachuca. We were fortunate enough to be able to book an apartment in a quiet complex with a gate tended to by a friendly old security guard. It was a cozy one-bedroom abode with a queen bed and well-furnished kitchen and living area. And better yet, it was only a short walk from the historic town center.

Our first order of business once we got settled in was to walk down to a paste shop around the corner. Since researching the area since our last visit, we discovered the culinary specialty of the area is the local spin on Cornish pasties. Due to silver mining activity in the mid-1800s to early 1900s, the area experienced an influx of miners from Ireland and Great Britain, the majority coming from the southwestern part of England known as Cornwall.

Enjoying a delicious paste back at the apartment

We selected a few traditional varieties like chicken and beef with potatoes and other veggies, then decided to try one containing beans and cheese, another featuring chorizo and then a few sweet, fruit-filled kinds. It was strange yet comforting to eat something so familiar to home in someplace so far away. The bean and cheese paste will be one we look forward to recreating in the future—yum!

The next day we decided to ride out to Huasca de Ocampo to see the Prismas Basalticos. These were a series of waterfalls flowing over canyon walls of columnar basalt. We had been told about them on our first time through Pachuca so made a point to check ’em out. It is hugely built up as a tourist attraction, but like the monolith in Bernal it was mostly domestic tourism. Large extended families chattering about excitedly, marveling at the structure of the walls both from above—pointing from the suspension bridge crossing the chasm—and below, looking up in awe at the towering columns of dark rock while catching the spray from cascading water.

Approaching the columnar basalt-lined gorge

View from the bottom

Looking down from the bridge

The stream coming into the canyon

Having enjoyed a pleasant ride back into Pachuca at the golden hour of the late afternoon, we then did a little shopping for groceries before retreating to our apartment. Chef Ehren whipped up some fantastic lemon pepper chicken while I worked on some mashed potatoes and put together a caesar salad. Downed our dinners and got ready for bed.

It was now Tuesday—Thanksgiving was in two days and we were contemplating how we wanted to observe the holiday during our time in Pachuca. We had been in loose contact with our friend, Russ (whom we had originally met at the Horizons Unlimited meeting back in September), since he crossed into Baja earlier in the month. Having helped in convincing him to embark on his own trip to South America, we thought we’d check in to see where he’d made it to so far. Turns out he was only a long day’s ride away from us in Guadalajara.

We invited him to join us for Turkey Day and he accepted, letting us know he’d be there the following evening. Having made these plans, we spent the rest of the day catching up on computer work and researching nearby places to explore on Wednesday.

Pachuca is conveniently situated at the threshold of El Chico National Park, so we pointed our wheels in that direction when we awoke the next morning. We head to the town of Mineral del Chico, situated in the north end of the park.

Stopped for a map check just outside of Pachuca – had to snap a pic of the sign. It was a narrow bridge so the sign is telling you to take it one by one. We saw signs like these in a lot of narrow city streets throughout Mexico.

Church on the square

Looking up one of the main streets

Fountain with colorful architecture in background

Friendly sculpture man!

A sleepy, red-roofed town in a scenic valley, Mineral del Chico welcomed us into its beautiful central square. Featuring sculptures, statuesque trees and manicured shrubs along with a fountain and cathedral, it was a peaceful place to sit and figure out where to explore next. We decided to follow the road out of town to the northwest upon recommendation from a passerby. Quickly turning from cobblestone to dirt, it led us from waterfall to old mine shaft to waterfall again as we followed the river through the valley.

Ehren returns from looking into an old mineshaft

Then he positions his bike for a photo – the act becoming the photo itself

Following the trail

Triple waterfall!

Where to next?

Headed back towards town

A nice little jaunt, we headed back towards town once we figured the road could keep going for eternity. Once returned, we headed down another road on the same recommendation from earlier, to the east. This one started as a smooth road through thick forest, then once we turned off towards the Mirador Pena del Cuervo we encountered a rocky dirt path going up. We decided to follow it until arriving at the mirador, which is a low, flat tower providing a majestic overlook of the valley containing the village of Mineral del Chico. It was technically closed for construction (they were repouring the concrete steps), but we had hit it at lunchtime and the guys on their break were happy to let us up to check out the views (mumble some Spanish and flash a smile and you’re generally good to go).

Heading up

Unfortunately it was a little hazy that day, but there’s Mineral del Chico!

Sitting atop the tower

Cheesing for the camera

We trekked back down the mountain to the main road and continued to follow it east until we met up with the bigger two-lane road to take us back into Pachuca. Once evening fell, we decided to take a walk to the center of town to see if Russ had made it in yet. He had given us the name of the place he had booked for the night which was right off the main square and, sure enough, when we walked up he was just getting the last of his luggage off the bike (which staff had let him park inside the foyer).

We caught up with him over some pasties and dinner at a nearby restaurant and walked the square for a bit, where a free concert was just wrapping up. Went over some options on what to do Thanksgiving Day and let him get some sleep, ambling our way back to our lodgings to do the same.

Thanksgiving was finally here! Our big plans for the day were to do a scenic ride through El Chico National Park over to the village of Mineral del Monte, where they have a museum dedicated to pasties! Part of its charm is that you get to make your own pasties from scratch.

Russ and Britt donning their aprons

Applying the filling just so

Ahhhh, to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor

After the paste museum, we snaked our way through several narrow cobblestone streets until we reached what was known as the English Cemetery (Panteon Ingles). It was completely dedicated to the burial of all the Englishfolk who had come this way because of the mines—even so far as to have all the graves oriented in the direction of England aside from one, wrongly reported to be the grave of world famous clown Richard Bell. As it turns out, it was just a miner with the same name, though its peculiar orientation is not explained.

Looking out over Mineral del Monte on our way up to the cemetery

The stately moss-covered trees and its location atop a hill overlooking the town gave the English Cemetery a unique, almost ethereal ambiance

Walking down the path

Fortuitous framing

We were studying the symbols on the gravestones. Apparently this is a Catholic symbol, and not at related to dollar signs.

Freemason

The inscription at the bottom reads: “This Celtic Cross, symbol of the Celtic people of Cornwall, was donated by the British Society of Mexico to mark the occasion of the visit of Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and The Duchess of Cornwall. 2nd November 2014”

A thoughtful array of flowers

Odd to think a cemetery would be a highlight of our Thanksgiving Day

Working our way back to our respective hotels, we decided to regroup in the early evening to figure out a place to go for our Thanksgiving dinner. After much deliberation, we decided to meet up at La Casa del Pibe, an Argentinean steakhouse about the same walk distance-wise from where we both were staying. We got a large platter of meats of all kinds and a few orders of sides while enjoying conversation with the family that ran the place. Ehren and I got full about halfway through the platter but Russ called upon his spirit of the Raven to finish every last scrap of food, much to our amazement. Respect.

All said and done, we had a fairly typical Thanksgiving: outdoor excursions, baking, great conversation, quality time with (road) family, and ended the day by getting so stuffed we could hardly move.

We couldn’t have been more thankful for the experience.

The three amigos. Thanks for joining us, Russ!

 
 

10 Comments

  1. Terry Nielsen says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I look forward to you travel reports.

     
  2. Thanks for sharing your travels.

     
  3. Good to see you two are back on the road and updating

     
    • Follow the Elefant says:

      We aren’t on the road anymore: we’ve been pretty busy since ending the trip back in April, but we’re just now finding the time to write about the rest of our travels (luckily we took pretty thorough notes during our journey!). This post took place in November 2017 so we have a lot to catch up on! Sorry for the confusion, we appreciate you following along as we fill in our journal!

       
  4. Milton McCoy says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip with me. This entry is great with the photos. I’ve enjoyed all your entries and I thought you were done but this one is about the best.

     
    • Follow the Elefant says:

      Hey Milton, you are correct in thinking we are done with the moto trip (finished in April) but are just getting around to catching people up on our entries (we’re in November 2017 right now). Eventually we’ll get to what we’re currently up to (it involves helicopters!). Thanks for reading!

       
  5. Woot woot! Thanks for the nice write up and the trip down memory lane. I’m so glad you guys thought to invite me out that way. I can’t think of a better way to have spent my Thanksgiving 2017! And where’s Thanksgiving for 2018 happening? 😉

     
    • Follow the Elefant says:

      RUUUUUSSSSSSSS!!! We were just thinking the other day about where we were last year at this time and how crazy it would have been to hear where we’d end up a year from then. It gave us a motivating kick in the rump to finish writing about our life on motos so we could get to current life in BC (at least until the ever-changing next destination!). Where are you at these days? Saw some recent entries about Tennessee!

       
  6. Thanks for letting us travel with you.

     
  7. You guys look and sound great. I am much pleased when i read of your adventures. Please contact us the next time you are in the land of enchantment. Ehren, I undetstand you need to paradise your woman!
    Thanks. Roman

     

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