Durango Unchained

Another overnight bus, another new city.

This morning it’s Durango, famed as the setting for many Hollywood Western movies (and a few other genres) from the 1940’s onwards.

Perhaps it was fitting, that during our stroll into town (okay, it is rarely a stroll with a backpack on your back and a daypack on your front) we spied a modern Mexican Vaquero (Cowboy) on horseback.

Welcome to Durango...

Welcome to Durango…

We’d found online what seemed a decently priced place, right on the verge of the Plaza de Armas, essentially the centre of the historical part of downtown.

Lugging our packs through the lovely gardened square, we found our street, then our hotel, then we found out there was “No habitacion!”

So with no vacancy, and no other leads for a cheap bed, we figured we’d best continue walking as we’d spotted a couple of dives on the walk in that should at least be cheap.

The eagle eyes of Sarah saw us revise these plans after only a hundred metres or so, as on the wall of a gazebo in the heart of the plaza she spied a flyer for Durango Travellers Hostel.

It was to there instead we now trudged, thankfully not the longest of walks, and after a short, broken conversation, we had our beds in a dorm of this relatively new hostel (4 months old).

So with that sorted, we got worded up by the very friendly and helpful Omar (from the hostel) who gave us the heads up that for the weekends (by coincidence this was Sunday), there is a free bus that runs to and from the Viejo Oeste (Western Village) at 3 set times in the afternoon.

With this in mind it was time to first, breakfast, and secondly, explore this town.

After the first task was completed, rather than catch the teleferico (yes, this place has a cable car), we decided to walk to the elevated heights for the views (which were ok, but nothing too special) and to check out the church up there.

The church of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios atop the heights

The church of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios atop the heights

The climb involved a lot of steep hills, and many more steps was actually pretty tiring, but the church was quite cute… I think we may have gate crashed a small wedding rehearsal as well.

We decided that the 15:00 bus would suit us best to head out to the old west, so for the rest of the day we meandered, checking out a few sights along the way:

* The old railway station. No longer servicing passengers (the only passenger service, outside of the larger city metro systems is the Chihuahua-Pacifico railway), and now a gallery/cafe.

* A mock mine, situated directly beneath the Plaza de Armas! This was a bit tacky, as it was never a working mine, rather some old, converted tunnels from the independence and revolutionary days.

The Plaza de Armas. Beneath lies the old tunnels/mock mine

The Plaza de Armas. Beneath lies the old tunnels/mock mine

After a brief surprise rain shower, we milled around a few locals in American Indian costume (as that is apparently where the buses depart from), and it was off to Viejo Oeste where we arrived just in time for one of their theatrical performances.

For this drama, I thought I'd keep in the spirit and shoot in black & white...

For this drama, I thought I’d keep in the spirit and shoot in black & white…

A showdown between the bank robbers and the sheriff

A showdown between the bank robbers and the sheriff

One of the outlaws dealing with an Indian

One of the outlaws dealing with an Indian

It was a pretty tacky show, but the hundreds of Mexican tourists loved it (were I a young kid, I’d say I’d have been riveted) and it was at that level where it was so bad, it was good!

The finale summed it up really, as the Sheriff heroically shoots the last of the bank robbers in the back (after letting the rest of his men get killed)…

Somewhat thematically, and to the delight of the men in the crowd, a couple of extras from the saloon them came out and performed a Can-Can to ever increasing roars as we explored a small graveyard dedicated to the Hollywood stars who had filmed here (John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, etc)

If you can can can?

If you can can can?

Then to the delight of the women in the crowd, but completely outside the bounds of the theme, a selection of the men dressed as Indians came out and performed something pretty close to a strip routine to the sultry tones of Shania Twain and the Backstreet Boys…

It was a bit odd for us, but you make your own mind up!

With the return bus not until half past five in the afternoon, we wandered the town a little more, before settling down to a beer outside a bar (or should I say saloon?)

Part of one of the old movie sets

Part of one of the old movie sets

Looking down on the main street of this former Western set

Looking down on the main street of this former Western set

It wasn’t high class, but it was certainly a fun enough way for us to experience the afternoon, and for the 35 pesos each it cost us, we were happy to have a chuckle for under $3AU!

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9 Responses to Durango Unchained

  1. karolinapatrykcom says:

    wow, that’s amazing!
    you were lucky to met modern cowboy on the horse 🙂

  2. Excellent post! You are having the time of your lives. Haven’t been to Durango, but it looks like a blast!

  3. Chris and Sarah, what a hoot! I love your black and white treatment on the cowboy photos. As a kid who was raised on old TV westerns, I’m totally in awe (and a bit jealous 🙂 ). But the men dressed as Indians doing a strip routine is a new one – well, probably not at Chippendales. You two seem to be enjoying yourselves immensely. ~Terri

    • Chris says:

      It certainly was unexpected!

      We did have fun though, I’m sure you can get there one day (living so close), so James needn’t be jealous forever!

  4. Samantha says:

    Fab black and white pictures! I have been to a similar place in Spain where they did shows like that! Yes it was tacky but was still great fun! 🙂

  5. Pingback: A dash of salt… | theworldwithchrisandsarah

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