View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Matehuala (Real de Catorce)

Saturday March 28…9:30pm

We had set the alarm for 6am, and got up at that time.

Had a quick breakfast and coffee, took Whiskey for a short stroll before leaving her in the motorhome for the day, and actually made it to the front office by 7am. There was a different person there, and we asked if he could call us a taxi. He got on the phone, and less than five minutes later, a taxi arrived. It cost 40 pesos ($3.60 CAN, $3.00 US) for the ride to the central bus terminal.
We bought our one way tickets to Real de Catorce. We tried to get return tickets, but were told that we had to buy them on the bus when we return. Had a 40 minute wait in the bus station, and then boarded our bus at 8am.

The ride took 2 hours, even though it was only about 60 kms (36 miles). The bus stopped several times along the way to pick people up or drop people off. And, the last 27 kms from highway 62 to the entrance to Real de Catorce is on a rough cobblestone road, so was pretty slow going.

A little info about Real de Catorce…this is a town that came to be in the late 1700’s due to the discovery of rich silver veins in the surrounding mountains. By the mid 1800’s, the town had a population of 40,000 people at it’s peak. But by 1905 the price of silver had dropped, and the town was pretty much abandoned. It has since come back several times, and is recently enjoying a surge in tourism. The population is now back up to 5,100.

The most interesting thing about this town is that the only way to access it by vehicle is through a tunnel 2.3 kms long. The tunnel is actually an old mining shaft built in 1903 that was enlarged in the 1970’s to accept vehicles. It’s still only one-way, and vehicles have to wait on either side for the tunnel to clear before they can enter themselves. You can also enter the tunnel on foot, or get a bicycle taxi or hop on a horse drawn trailer.

At the entrance to the tunnel

Today, the tunnel was closed to motorized traffic. We haven’t quite figured out why, but there was a parade about to take place when we were leaving and not sure if that had something to do with it. We decided to walk the 2.3 kms each way. It was flat and cool, so an easy 20 minutes each way.

Inside the tunnel

After actually seeing the “roads” in the town, there is no way I would recommend anybody take a vehicle there. They are steep, slippery, cobblestoned roads that are very narrow. Park your vehicle at the tunnel entrance and walk.

Inside the cathedral at Real de Catorce...note the removable wood flooring. Not sure of the purpose.

Ruth, outside the cemetery and chapel

Ruth, and the view

We walked quite a bit of the town today, including up to the abandoned ruins overlooking the town. Another thing to note about this place is the altitude. We had come from Matehuala at 5,200 feet. We took the bus the 60 kms to the tunnel entrance at 8,700 feet. By the time we walked to the ruins overlooking the town we were at about 9,300 feet. It was all under a clear blue sky.

The town of Real de Catorce

A closer view...


We walked back through the tunnel again at about 1:30pm, hoping that we had understood correctly that a bus would be ready to take us back to Matehuala at 2pm, but were then told there was not another bus until 4pm. The bus was waiting at that time, so we asked if we could at least stay on the bus until it was ready to leave so that we could have a siesta. The driver agreed, and so that’s what we did. We arrived back at Sherman to let Whiskey out at 5pm. It was a bit of a long day, but she seemed none the worse for wear.

We found Real de Catorce to be a fascinating place. We will return another year.

Total nights sleeping in a motorhome…518

March Fuel $374.70 CAN

March Grocery $269.31 CAN

March Overnight costs $171.79 CAN

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