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2004-08-06 - 2:00 p.m.

Real de Catorce

The first stop on my five-week adventure in Mexico was Real de Catorce, which required a 12-hour overnight bus ride from Austin to Matehuala, a two-hour bus ride from Matehuala to Real de Catorce, and a five-minute bus ride through a one-way tunnel to get to the town proper. I was accompanied by my new friend Nate who, prior to this trip, I had met twice. I ran into him on the Thursday night before I left at the Hole in the Wall, where I learned he had recently quit his job, and had a fair amount of time on my hands. Three pitchers later, Caroline and I had convinced Nate that it was in his best interests to spend this time traveling, and Nate agreed to accompany me to Real de Catorce, his first time out of the country.

Real de Catorce was formerly an abandoned mining town that now makes most of its money through tourism. Unless you're into that whole peyote thing, there's not much to do except walk around, which is what Nate and I did every day, after our customary breakfast of gorditas. Nate was an exemplary travel companion, as he was up for just about anything, asked lots of questions, and actually encouraged my rambling traveler's tales.

Our first walk, on the hills overlooking the town, while the clouds rolled in.

Our second walk, which lasted most of the afternoon, following a road outside of town, past the abandoned mines, and relatively close to some sacred spot where the Huichol Indians have their peyote rituals.

And then it was back through the tunnel, and back to Matehuala, where I dropped Nate off at the bus station for his bus to Austin, which left in seven hours, giving him all day to wander around town with absolutely no knowledge of the Spanish language, while I hightailed it out there for Zacatecas.

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