But it is my first time at the local town of that name….and my first time going through Hidalgo del Parral and Durango too.
From Guachochi I head east toward Hidalgo del Parral. It’s the next bigger town on the map and the place where we turn south again on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madres and head toward Durango. Hidalgo is shown on the maps, and online, as having a river running through it. So when we arrive and keep crossing over the bridges that hover over brown dirt and sand and where people have set up shanties, I’m confused. There’s no river here. But then it occurs to me that it’s the dry season and I am crossing over the river bed not an actual river, and then I get my bearings.
The centro area is built up around a couple of plazas and large churches, the Church of Saint Joseph and the Cathedral. I walk to both one day while looking for an ATM and some lunch. St. Joseph’s is a lovely older church. The Cathedral is beautiful too, but wasn’t built until the mid-1900s so doesn’t capture my attention quite as much.
We’ve been eating some rehydrated dinners, some local meals, side-of-the-road vendor meals, etc. and I’m craving something from home, so we wander into the small café under the hotel and have a bit of something familiar – a big greasy cheeseburger and fries with a coke for $45 pesos, about $3.50.
There’s lots of shopping in this town, especially on the main street that runs through the Centro (center of the city, which tends to be older buildings and narrow streets), but I still haven’t made room for a pair of dancing shoes or a cocktail dress on the bike, so none for me.
We head south toward Durango and encounter snow on the highway between Parral and Durango. Just a reminder for those of you back at home, that this isn’t beach weather…I’ve been wearing all my liners for days and buried under blankets and my sleeping bag at night.
On the way south we pass through Rodeo (pronounced like the famous street in Beverly Hills not the bucking bronc kind) on the way through and stop for lunch on the roadside. It looks like a clean little town and there is a modern looking hospital on the highway. I’ve been told by a friend or two that this is a nice town to visit, and it looks that way. It’s situated along a river valley and just about 10 miles before town the winds warmed up. There are green fields here and leaves on a few of the trees.
We carry on after lunch and pass through a sweet little village called Palmitos, ride over a bridge called the John Wayne bridge – which is strangely funny since I had just posted on Facebook the day or two before that how I think this area reminded me of riding through a live version of a John Wayne movie, as it turns out many of the old great westerns were filmed in this part of the world – and meander through small front range ridges toward the plains near Durango.
We arrive in Durango late one afternoon and try to find a room near the city center so dinner and the sites are close by. I go into the Prince hotel to get a room and the wonderfully sweet desk clerk offers to help me but she speaks so quickly I struggle to understand her. My Spanish has been getting me by, but in this case I feel I am at a loss. Finally between a handful of words, and some gestures I understand that there is no secure parking at the hotel, although she considered having us ride the bikes up the sidewalk and into the lobby and a broom closet for a moment, so she makes arrangements for parking at a garage 1.5 blocks down a side street. There is another woman working in a beauty supply shop in the lobby who helps us too, and I greatly appreciate them trying to help this gringa.