500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Parral, Chihuahua. Another city worth a visit.

We only had a short drive yesterday. From Pancho Villa's hacienda in Canutillo, Durango we would drive north about 80 kms (50 miles), crossing the border from the state of Durango into the state of Chihuahua to the outskirts of the city of Parral. Should only take an hour or so, right?

Wrong.

Two hours, to do 80 kms (50 miles). Yes, more road construction.

We had a really quiet night in Canutillo. It's just a little farming town, and it's a couple of kms off the main highway. The hacienda where we parked for the night is on the outskirts of the town itself, and what a quiet place it is! In the morning, we went for a stroll before we left.

Looking back at Sherman.

The place is almost a ghost town. We did say good morning to a few people though, and everybody seemed friendly enough.

Do we trust this bridge?

Yup. No problem!

Getting through the town of Las Nieves, the road was in really bad shape. Then, just after the town, we come to this...

On the bright side, at least they're fixing it!

Slow going.

We did get the odd patch of new stuff to drive on.

Crossing the border from Durango to Chihuahua.

Clear sailing!

Indigenous ladies.

We arrived at Parral at about 11:20am, but we went through a one hour time zone change at the border, so we gained an hour. So it became 10:40am.

There are no RV parks as such, but we wanted to explore the city. I had scoped out the situation on Google maps and Google streetview and I had found a big hotel on a hill overlooking the city and it looked like it had a large parking area. So that's where we headed. It was a bit of a steep hill, but Sherman managed it no problem. Sure enough, the area looked great for an overnight stop. The entrance to the hotel is at GPS coordinates 26.921314 -105.646561. It's called the Hotel Hacienda del Villa.

I went to the front desk and explained that there was no campground in Parral, and asked if we could spend the night in their parking lot. He went and checked with a superior, and came back with a positive response. Nice!

Parral is a small city of around 100,000 people. It's fairly well to do, because of a silver mine that pumped money into the local economy for many years. In fact, the mine was one of the longest continually operating mines in the world, producing silver, gold, copper, and lead for 345 years, from 1629 to 1974!

Yesterday's drive, 80 kms (50 miles).

Just to give you a better idea, here's where we are right now at the city of Parral.

We figured out that it was only about 3.5 kms (2 miles) to downtown, so we walked there. No better way to see a city than walking it.

The first church we came across was built in 1639.

The second church also in the mid 1600's.

It had amazing stonework, but the interior was closed.

Isn't it amazing how they built these structures back then??

There are two main plazas in town.

This courtyard had tortoises living in it!

This church was also closed! Many churches do close their doors from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

We were trying to find a tourist office to get a map. We were told the tourist office was located at the mine, since that is the main tourist attraction in town. So we walked up to the mine. We weren't actually planning on doing the mine tour because we've been in a couple before. But it turns out that the mirador (lookout) is on the mine property and we wanted to go up there for the view. So we decided to pay the 25 pesos ($2.05) each to do the tour as well.

The Mina la Prieta was a working mine up until 1974.

These carts are heavy to push up hill!
 (They are actually stationary. No way that you could move one!)

Ruth, with her brain bucket on.

There were about 14 people in our group. The guide asked where everybody was from. They were all from Mexico except one older couple who were Spanish, but live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The tour was entirely in Spanish, but the guide spoke quite quickly and we only got bits and pieces. He had a lot of information though, and it would have been interesting had we been able to understand it all! Still, we did understand some, so when we think back to the first tour we did in Spanish a few years ago, we have improved!

This tunnel was dug by hand in 1820.

A depiction of an indigenous miner in the 1700's.

And another that is a little more modern day.

From the mirador, looking at the city of Parral.

Montreal, 4,104 kms away!

Zoomed in on the cathedral. That's our next stop.

Parral Cathedral.

The interior was fantastic.

Lots of tiny stones decorating the walls.

Nice city. Friendly people, and apparently a very low crime rate. Our guide said that it's a nice place to live. If we were ever to live in Mexico and had to stay in one spot, this is the type of place we would choose.

We ended up walking back to Sherman. We stopped at the Walmart on the way, and I bought some socks. There is also a Sam's Club here. Yes, we could have parked there, but it would have been busy and beside a busy road. Walmarts are truly a last resort for us!

Woke up to overcast and drizzle this morning. Not the best for driving further into the mountains towards Copper Canyon. We'll see if it clears up at all before deciding what to do.

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22 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed all the colors of the buildings viewed from up top.

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  2. What a beautiful little town. We admire you two for being so brave and exploring all these places we have never heard of or ever thought of visiting.

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    1. It is a very pretty city, we enjoyed our visit.

      I'm not sure that brave is the word for it, we explore here much the same way we do in Canada, the US or in any other country we have visited. We enjoy seeing all these different places and learning about the history and the culture.

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  3. I have to admit that after all the pix of Ruth, at first glance I thought the "indigenous miner" was she also ;)

    You should use the "bike route" feature of Google Maps to get an idea of how many thousands of feet Sherman will be climbing and descending the next few days.

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    1. Glad it wasn't me, I would have been a bit chilly without a shirt on! ;-)

      Unfortunately the using the new Google Maps program uses up too much on our bandwidth on our cellular internet connection. Kevin has found a way to get the altitude though but we just won't use it to follow the route the whole way.

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  4. I've really enjoyed this trip...thank you for sharing. I'd love to buy one of those indigenous women's dresses...they are awesome!!

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    1. So glad that you are enjoying the trip Rita. We should be seeing lots of dresses like these in the week or so. They are so colorful!

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  5. The style of that last cathedral looks very much like one from the 11th century we saw in Portugal this Spring - so beautifully done!

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    1. That is probably because it was designed by a Portuguese man. We really loved the stone work on the inside of the church.

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  6. Very interesting historic buildings. I bet working in the mine during the 1600's was not a lot of fun.

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    1. One of the reasons that we love Mexican towns and cities so much is because of the historical buildings and the beautiful architecture.

      I don't think it would be find to work in a mine at any point but definitely not back then.

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  7. I told you Parral was worth a visit. I have worked there many times and we passed through there on our way to the Copper Canyon. Nice people and they have good rib eye for cheap.

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    1. You were right Chris, and we would stop there again because we only had the one afternoon we weren't able to see everything that we would have liked to have seen.

      Totally forgot about the steaks! :-(

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  8. Just love all the great colors they paint buildings in Mexico, make them so upbeat.

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    1. Some places are definitely more colourful that others and this was one of the colourful ones for sure.

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  9. I'm interested in your choice of going through Durango and Chihuahua states given this: http://howsafeismexico.com/mexico_states_safety.html. I would be nervous about traveling in these areas, and I love Mexico (as you do) and am a pretty brave person. How did you decide you'd be okay with traveling the route you chose versus the "safer" (green) route that most travelers from the US and Canada would choose? Thanks!

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    1. To be totally honest we don't look at these "warnings" much as they have had them there since we first started traveling in Mexico and now after our 7 winters here we have found it to be as safe as anywhere else that we have traveled. No matter where we travel we always have a route planned out and we always exercise caution. The main reason that they "warn" about Durango and Chihuahua is because they have had problems with the cartels but it states that tourists are generally not targeted so if you aren't in the drug buisness, the police force or the military you shouldn't have much to worry about. If you were to heed this warning and so many others, people just wouldn't travel period! We have been loving the scenery in both of these states, enjoying the food and mingling with the friendly people that we have met and we wouldn't have missed it for anything.

      We generally stay off the toll roads (not sure if this is what you mean by green?) mainly because we don't find them nearly as interesting as the other roads and they don't offer us a means to find somewhere to park up for the night. Again we don't find that the other roads are any less safe. Kevin does check them out ahead of time for road conditions and to make sure that they are able to support the motorhome. He will also ask people who have traveled to a certain destination as to the route and which is better. We are definitely different from most travelers because we stay off the beaten path and we know that and are happy with our choices but they are choices that we have put lots of thought into ahead of time.

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    2. I appreciate your taking the time to reply! We are in Playa del Carmen for the winter (flew here from the US, however) and have previously taken bus trips in Mexico, but we have always stayed in the "teal" states (safe) on the map on the link I posted. I do know that if you aren't involved in drugs and don't drive at night, you're much safer anywhere in Mexico, but I was interested in whether you considered safety in determining your route. You have certainly seen some beautiful places you would have missed otherwise. Thanks for sharing them with your readers!

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    3. Yes, we always consider safety when determining our route but that doesn't mean that we follow these warnings that are put out by the state/travel industry. We pay more attention to people we have talked to that have taken that particular route or at least traveled in the area. Kevin also does a lot of research before we decide our final route. As you say if you aren't in the drug business and you don't drive at night you are generally safe but incidents can happen anywhere and in any country.

      So glad that you are enjoying yourself in Mexico and hope you have a great winter with lots of sand, sun and fun.

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  10. Hi, My husband was recently relocated back in Parral mexico. Being as this was a yr ago I was wondering if you think it is still safe to go? if so, what route is safest amd if traveling by bus will i be okay?

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    1. Even when we did it Canada and the US had a travel advisory for the whole state of Chihuahua just as they do now. We find that most of these advisories are geared more to drug trade with gangs against gangs along with police and military not to the normal working person or tourist. We saw NONE of this! As you can see from the post above we walked all over town without any issue and everyone was friendly and just going about their normal daily lives. Would we go again right at this moment? Yes, without a doubt! Having said that, just because we had no problem that doesn't mean that the next person will. Always use common sense as you would anywhere that you might be travelling. We traveled on main roads and secondary ones but not on any toll roads and we again had no problem and saw some nice scenery especially between Parral and Creel. Yes, I believe you would be fine travelling by bus.

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