Durango



As you approach Durango from the north with its impressive buttes you get a sense of what drew Hollywood here during the era of the big "Westerns". Durango the city is as beautiful as any of the colonial cities, yet it has a cosmopolitan air about it that isn't found in many other places in Northern Mexico. The thing about Durango is that you don't really end up here by accident. Durango is fully a 4 to 5 hour drive from anywhere else in Mexico that the typical tourist is attracted to. It doesn't enjoy the same sort of charm as the colonial "silver cities", but instead its charm is found in the warmth of its people and in the menu that relies heavily on durangueño beef. Also, in contrast to what we were finding on our last trip in 2009, it seems that Mexico has realized that tourism is at least one of the hands that feed it. Museum and toll road prices are just one area where prices seem to have come down. More importantly we have found that we are not faced so far with the institutional double standard in pricing we encountered in the past. I have even enjoyed the "senior" discount once reserved for Mexican retirees. Durango would be the first of the towns where we were obliged to take a little longer layover. The place is just so relaxing.



As beautiful as the city is in the day time it really comes alive at night. this is evident not just in the well lit buildings but also in the many free live events that we encountered in just the couple of days we stayed here. I have to admit that staying an extra day was the plan after visiting here a few years ago. A big part of that is that in addition to the wide variety of fare available in Durango's restaurants, we have found the people here to be some of the friendliest , most accommodating you will find.



One example is this excellent Brazilian Churrasceria that was located in the lobby of our hotel. Not only did the food rival anything we encountered in Brazil, but if you look closely you will see Karen's blue motorcycle behind the column to the left of the Christmas tree, and the front tire of mine sticking out from behind the Santa Claus in the entry foyer.

The street that fronted our hotel was part of a pedestrian mall that ran for several blocks in each direction on the west side of the Cathedral (above) and the town's main square. Each night both the mall and the plaza filled with all manner of live entertainment in an event called "se va a las calles". This evening the Norteno band below performed on the mall. Here is a small snippet of there performance. Norteño  I apologize for the low quality of the video. Meanwhile one of the most incredible performances I have seen anywhere took place on the Plaza. It was a man who accompanied himself on voice and simple instruments like a kazoo or noisemakers sent through a synthesizer while he manipulated his voice to make other sounds that were, for the most part not actual words, but were simply sounds.  Unfortunately referring to them as "simply" sounds isn't the appropriate word to describe something that was anything but simple. Some of the accompaniment was as unusual as him gurgling a mouthful of water. All the while, a partner performed live visual art in black and white which was projected on a screen behind him. I have selected a small segment of video that I was able to convert to a size small enough to upload. This is one of the few that has voice in a real language. It is the song "Ojitos Negroes"




A bit down the street from the plaza is the opera house above. The hand carved wooden relief at left sits below an impressive crystal chandelier. It commemorates the upcoming 450th anniversary of the founding of Durango in 1563. The closeup at right shows the Conquistadors and indigenous subjects. We were invited inside to go to the best seats in the balcony and watch a rehearsal of "El Cascanueces" (The Nutcracker).

In a tiny torta stand we encountered this poster with this irresistable character. When they noticed me taking this photo, the waiters had a hilarious time insisting that it was one of the more pudgy of their group when he was a child.