Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hidalgo del Parral

February 9th to 14th

Our stay in Hidalgo del Parral is extended by a bout of Montezuma's revenge which strikes Sue down and confines her to a hotel bed. She's in a bad way. 

On the bright side I remain OK and have plenty of time in which to explore the town.... People who know me do understand my sympathetic side and I have often been likened to a male version of Mother Teresa.

Parral was originally famous for it's vast mineral wealth discovered in 1631 whereupon the Spanish set about enslaving the indigenous population and forcing them underground into appaling conditions to retrieve cartfuls of silver, copper quartz and lead for the remainder of their short lives. Silver continued to be mined here until 1975 when the mine flooded for the final time and was closed. Local rumour around town is that the American owners repatriated large parts of the pension funds at the time and anger still simmers amongst former mine workers. Today after the steep climb, the unflooded remains of the hand dug tunnels are open to tourists 100m below ground.


Parral is more recently famous for being the place where Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa was ambushed and gunned down on city streets in 1923. After his funeral attended by around 30,000 his body was dug up and beheaded before being removed to Mexico City for "safe keeping". The building used as cover by his asailants is now a museum to his life and the Mexican revolution. This is Pancho country and tour guides are ruthlessly partisan, refuting much of what is more commonly known about the man. As they say one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Some of his finer moments in battle are vividly depicted in a huge mural here. His final moments were spent more ignominiously in a rather inapropriately name "Dodge Sedan", the bullet ridden car he was travelling in on his last, fateful visit to Parral...

Leaving politics aside and with Sue still incapacitated I find myself with a decision to make.

Should I settle for the black and red check, or go for it and get the pink harlequin - they're available in my size. I promised I would give David Galaviz and his fine store on Colegio a mention if he destroyed photos of me trying them on with an embroidered sombrero. Boots are hand made on site and are very fine indeed.

If you are Mexican and can make them look cool...

Parral's other main attraction is the recently restored Palacio Alvarado built by Senor Alvarado for his wife using silver money. Sadly she died just weeks before it was completed which is a shame because it's rather nice.

Sue's still not better, so to kill some time I'll play some light music and show a couple of nice  piccies from Parral....

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