Mexican Ghost Towns and World Heritage Sites

We have returned from our two-week trip visiting some ghost towns and World Heritage sites in the San Luis Potosi region of Mexico.  Because time was short, we did a whirlwind tour that included many bus rides, a car rental, and a lot of hotel one-night stands.  We’ve come back with an appreciation for Mexico’s smaller towns, and have both made New Year’s resolutions to improve our Spanish.

**This post is just a basic outline of our two week trip.  I plan to post more details later!

Back to Blogging

I never blog when we take trips.  I like to enjoy my vacations as much as possible and don’t want the responsibility of having to write during them.  Writing on a regular basis is a discipline that I like to encourage, but the longer I go without an enforced schedule, the harder it is to get back into it.  As usual when we return from a trip, we have many family responsibilities that we must take care of, and that makes it even harder to get back on a blogging schedule.  But here I go with my first post after our latest Mexico trip.

Ghost Towns and World Heritage Sites in the Sierra Nevada Oriental

We like to concentrate on small areas when we travel.  We decided to see some of the smaller towns and sites in the San Luis Potosi area.  There are several “ghost towns” in the area and we made these these the focus of the trip.  I put ghost towns in parentheses because they still have people living in them.

Flying Open-Jaw Using Miles and Points

The most logical way to do this trip would have been to fly into and out of Mexico City, but we’ve done that so many times!  We decided to fly into Monterrey using United miles, and to fly out of Guadalajara using American Airlines miles.  I booked us a Fairmont Inn in Monterrey using Marriott points, and a Holiday Inn in Guadalajara using IHG points.  We felt comfortable letting the rest of the trip take care of itself as we traveled.

Monterrey

We flew into the large industrial city of Monterrey and knew that we were going to be leaving the very next day on a bus.  We took the hotel shuttle from the airport to our hotel, and the next morning took a cab to the bus station.  Our next destination was Matehuala.  Monterrey is flat as a pancake but the mountains just west of Monterrey looked really intriguing.  Next time we’re here we will go into those mountains and see what is there.

Mysterious Misty Mountains Outside Monterrey Mexico
Mysterious Misty Mountains Outside Monterrey Mexico

Matehuala

Our ultimate destination was Real de Catorce, but we first needed to get to Matehuala.  Guidebooks and on line resources have nothing good to say about Matehuala, but we liked it.  There are few historic sites, but it is a manageable town with plenty of hotels, bars, and restaurants.  We were lucky enough to stay in the old Hotel Matehuala on the main square.  These old hotels are disappearing because they lack modern comforts (which we don’t care about) and they cost so much to repair (sad!)  After a night here, we took two buses the next morning.  The first took us from Matehuala to the tunnel leading to Real de Catorce.  We then took a separate bus through the tunnel to the town entrance.

Hotel Matehuala Mexico
Hotel Matehuala Mexico

Real de Catorce

The mining town of Real de Catorce was abandoned until about 20 years ago when people started moving back.  The town attracts hordes of mostly day tourists.  In my opinion the real attraction is the extensive ruins surrounding the town.

Real de Catorce Mexico
Real de Catorce Mexico

We spent the night here and spent the next day getting a bus back to Matehuala where we spent the night.

San Luis Potosi

We took a bus from Matehuala to the World Heritage town of San Luis Potosi.  It does have a kernel of historic sites in the center, but we found it too big and noisy for our tastes.

San Luis Potosi Mexico
San Luis Potosi Mexico

We rented a car here so we would not have to rely on buses to get us to some of the smaller towns nearby that we wanted to see.

Cerro San Pedro

Our first stop with the car was the cute ghost town (but people still live here) of Guadalcazar, just northeast of San Luis Potosi.

Cerro de San Pedro Mexico
Cerro de San Pedro Mexico

We spent a couple of hours here before heading up a long canyon to the very small town of Guadalcazar

Guadalcazar

We lost internet service on the way here, and couldn’t find our research on this town–so we weren’t sure why we came here!  The drive up the canyon was peaceful and beautiful, and we came out into a fertile valley and into the small town of Guadalcazar.  We were lucky to find the one hotel that was open, and they served us both dinner and breakfast the next morning.

Guadalcazar Mexico
Guadalcazar Mexico

Crater de Joya Honda

Crater de Joya Honda Mexico
Crater de Joya Honda Mexico

We knew nothing about this but saw it on Google Maps and had to go.  You can’t really call it a volcano because lava never flowed from it.  Magma approaching the surface turned ground water into steam and blew the overlying rock straight up–like a defective pressure cooker.  The resulting crater has impressive vertical walls that are over 500 feet high.

El Venado

Our next destination was the mining town of Charcas, but because we had spent so much time geologising at the crater we ran out of daylight.  We stopped at the town of El Venado just as it was getting dark.   We found a hotel right on the river that runs through town.  The next morning we walked up river through a public park.  At the end of the park is a large swimming pool made right into the river.  The river is fed from several springs just outside of town.  We decided that this would be a great place to spend a couple of days–good hikes and swimming near a small town.

Spring Fed River El Venado Mexico
Spring Fed River El Venado Mexico

The next morning we drove up to the medium-sized town of Charcas.  There wasn’t much there that appealed to us, so we were glad that we had spent the night at the nicer El Venado.  We spent the afternoon driving back to San Luis Potosi to return the car.  We spent another night there before heading out to Queretaro the next morning.

Queretero

Queretero is another UNESCO World Heritage town, but it is even bigger than San Luis Potosi.  We feel uncomfortable in the big noisy towns with their pollution and traffic.  We found a hotel we liked in the historic center called Hotel Aquaducto named after the famous town acqueduct, which was our favorite site there.

Queretero Mexico Aqueduct
Queretero Mexico Aqueduct

Guanajuato

The next morning we took a bus to the much smaller town of Guanajuato, which is also a World Heritage site.  Guanajuato is a swinging college and tourist town.  It it built over a series of ravines and has many roads that tunnel under the buildings.  There were many tourists in town, but it was so lively and fun that we enjoyed it.  I’m glad that we had two days to spend here.

Guanajuato Mexico
Guanajuato Mexico

Guadalajara

We took our last bus ride into Guadalajara, where we stayed downtown in the Holiday Inn.  We walked in the historic center on our last afternoon there.  The next morning we took a public bus to the airport.  We ate breakfast in the VIP lounge that we accessed with our Priority Pass.  We whiled away a layover in Dallas at the Centurion Club, where we had massages and ate and drank too much.  We got home about midnight the same night.

Details?

This is a synopsis of the trip.  I  will do a couple of future posts on logistics and what we did/saw in the more interesting locations.  Happy New Year!

 

 

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