Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Life and Adventures in Durango

Since the wind picked up again yesterday afternoon (seems to happen each day at the same time?), the pilot light on the water heater went out again. Gas water heaters sit outside the houses, they only have a capacity of about 10 gallons so the water heats up within about 10 to 15 minutes but they are just not reliable when the wind blows a lot.  I can only imagine how frustrating it must be when you are going to work each day and have to go outside to start the water heater up again before you can shower and get ready for work.  Right now the days are quite hot but the nights are cold and that means that when you get up in the morning, the water is icy cold - nice for drinking but not for showering.  Check out the electrical connection!

During a trip downtown to the historical district we saw the usual mess of phone lines and electrical lines hanging around above the streets and found some crazy workmanship going on by the phone company, OSHA would have a fit if they saw this.

 See the little square sign on the red building, below the white one?  That's the street sign!  And that's why its hard to drive without a navigator, they are small and hard to read while watching all the traffic going on around you!
Another street sign on the red building, so easy to miss!

We managed to find one of those very rare free parking spots alongside Calle Jarez about 3 blocks from the start of the Calle ConstituciĆ³n then walked the length of the Calle down to Paseo Las Alamedas.

The Calle is a pedestrian shopping area with lots of restaurants, bars, shops and outdoor seating. There are many Churches/Cathedrals to be visited, though none were open when we were there.

We explored the area around the Catedral Basillica Menor - the architecture is very impressive with a lot of detailed stonework carvings.

  The huge heavy bells are suspended from wooden beams, the huge solid wood doors must be heavy to open and I can only begin to imagine the size of the keys that are used in those huge locks.

I wonder what it is like in these hotel rooms when those great bells are ringing?

The Temple of Santa Ana is very beautiful as well, with a more modest architectural style on which more ornate pieces have obviously been added later during a different bishopric.

The Paseo was planted with poplars and willows back in 1790 and more trees have been planted since then.  It is one of the most beautiful and popular walks in Durango. There are numerous iron and bronze statues set up in memory of the country's historical figures and the men and women of Durango.  Some of the statues, such as the young dancers and the bull rotate on a circular base with bearings so you can push then round.  The park is a popular spot with young lovers who are always on the lookout for some privacy (the disadvantage of extended families living the the same house).

We also came across the Plaza Fundadores on our wanderings.  There are four buttresses next to the temple, three artistic fountains, an obelisk, walkers of quarry, green areas, benches, a monumental panel dedicated to the founders. The most fascinating part of this (apart from the buttress construction) is the underground showcases that are exhibited to one side of the temple and that show part of the history of Durango. This small "mini-museum" shows four important aspects of the history of Durango with artifacts laid out in sunken pits with clear tops so that you can look down at the exhibits - each showcase has a plaque with information about the exhibits and what they are commemorating.

We stopped in a little hole in the wall place for a bite to eat and shared an Alfalfa agua fresca (yes alfalfa water and it was good but still a bit sweet but not as super sweet as horchatta or other flavors of agua fresca), pina empanada and chilaquiles (corn tortillas cut in quarters, lightly fried and simmered in a wonderful salsa verde then served with crema, shredded queso fresco, and refried beans).

Somehow, on the way home (getting somewhat lost again because Naggy just can't keep up with all the thousands of tiny streets), we ended up in the parking lot of another Walmart (no choice, that is where the road went) and decided to check it out because we wanted a few basics and we had to pay to get out anyhow.  The parking fee was 10 pesos but they had covered parking!  And once again a very friendly gentleman showed us how to use the machine by the front door to pay for parking on the ticket (we got on entry) and then when we exited the parking lot  we simply fed the paid ticket receipt into the machine to get the arm to raise. The bakery is always a strong draw for us and we got some more of their fabulous bread rolls ($1.50 peso), a $10 peso (50 cents US) roll stuffed with a creamy ham mixture with jalapenos and something like an oversized cookie that is light, fluffy and not so sweet (that we remember from our last trip is not too sweet) for desert ($6 peso).  We also found the bactericide that we wanted for our fruit and veggies and bought some apples, pears and guavas, all at comparatively give away prices.
Harry, Please tell me what this is because I just love them.

Everyone is so friendly when they see that you are a gringo and are trying to speak the language - we have had several conversations today explaining what we needed and everyone has been so helpful.  I do think that we are getting better at this, slowly, very slowly.  I was even able to ask a Walmart employee to show me where the bactericide for fruit & veggies is - it was quite a simple conversation where I asked him to show me where is the 'bactericide to use for fruits and vegetables).  Yes this is going to get easier as time passes :)

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