Haciendas and Hard Hats in Hidalgo State

This weekend I wanted to explore the state of Hidalgo.pachucaThis region has a rich mining history, which is still evident today. In the early 19th century, during the industrial revolution, almost 400 Cornish miners immigrated to this region from England to work in the mines to extract silver, gold and various other minerals.

The Cornish were the first to introduce soccer to the country of Mexico and Pachuca, Hidalgo was where the first futbol(soccer) game was held in 1900.

While visiting the region, I toured Hacienda Santa Maria Regla. This mining hacienda, once fully operational, has now been converted into a luxurious hotel where one can tour the property grounds or stay for around $150/night to experience an almost medieval time period.


hacienda 3 hacienda6 hacienda1During my tour, I learned about the history and daily life of the miners. I was able to view the mining tunnels and secret passageways, which were used by poor miners in order to stay hidden from the rich land owners.hacienda4hacienda2This hacienda was owned by Don Pedro Romero de Terreros, Count of Regla who was the nicknamed “The Silver King” and was one of the richest men of the 18th century. Unfortunately, Don Pedro was not generous with his wealth. The miners suffered extremely poor working conditions and many died due to starvation and disease.

Due the haciendas striking beauty and European charm, it has been used in numerous films, including The Mask of Zorro. catherine-zeta-jones-antonio-banderas-legend-of-zorroThe presence of these Cornish immigrants is strongly noted in the architecture, sports and most notably the cuisine of this region. The English influence is so strong that the area was named Mexico’s “Little Cornwall” in 2007. I was told that the best dish to try was the Cornish pastes. 🙂

Now don’t confuse pastes with pasties. One being a buttery filled pastry and the other being a exotic and controversial fashion statement worn by celebrities like Lil’ Kim. Hah.images-1For Cornish pastes, the best place to go is Real del Monte where there are over 30 producers. They offer a variety of fillings, including shredded chicken mole, chorizo and pineapple. It was recommended that I try the most traditional filling, which is potato and meat with herbs and spices. The crust was buttery and flaky, similar to an empanada. DELICIOUS!img_7279pasteDuring my visit to the state of Hidalgo, I was able to visit the main city of Pachuca and the small pueblas of Huasca de Ocampo, San Miguel Regla and Mineral del Monte.

From Pachuca, there are numerous vans that provide transportation to the pueblas for around $1.50.img_7129Huasca de Ocampo is a quaint mining village located in the mountains of Hidalgo.img_7133From Huasca de Ocampo, I wanted to venture to Los Prismas Basálticos in San Miguel Regla, because I had read they were 1 of the 13 natural wonders of Mexico.hacienda5To get there, my options were taxi or walking. OF COURSE, I decided to walk and take in the fresh air. I passed by many beautiful landscapes and rural farms.img_7152img_7153img_7149After an hour of walking, the sun had become very strong and a fortunately a passerby gave me a ride the rest of the journey.

Coincidentally, this guy Valentin worked at Los Prismas Basálticos. He got me in for free and gave me a small tour of the area.
This natural wonder is an impressive formation of tall columns of basalt rock created by cooled volcanic lava that has lined a deep ravine. Water provided by a nearby dam flows through the ravine and is also supplied by two breathtaking waterfalls.
prismasclimbing2More recently, the addition of walkways and hanging bridges make the ravine more accessible to tourists.
img_7159prismas 3After visiting Las Prismas Basálticos, I DID NOT want to walk all the way back to Huasca de Ocampo. Luckily, somebody offered to give me a ride on their ATV. 🙂

Woo hoo! What a fun joy ride! I made sure to buy him a soda for his kindness. 🙂hacienda7In addition to the three small pueblas, I was able to sight see in the main city of Pachuca.img_7048Although Pachuca is the capital city of Hidalgo, it still has a tranquil and peaceful vibe. My friend nicknamed the city “Ranchuca” because the city folk are very friendly, relaxed, and live a very modest lifestyle.

The main icon of the Pachuca is the Monumental Clock, which was donated by a Cornish immigrant. It was constructed using pink stone, similar to the structures found in Morelia. For around $2, visitors are able to climb to the top of the clock for a panoramic view of the cityimg_7056img_7109I geared up with my hard hat and leather gloves, and began to climb the numerous ladders to the top. It was a little rickety, but I survived. The one thing I wish was that they had supplied us with was ear plugs. When the bells began to ring, it was almost deafening! Gah!hacienda9Other attractions of Pachuca include the church of San Francisco, the Basilica of Guadalupe, the Museum of Photography and numerous plazas.img_7041hacienda8Getting ready for Christmas!img_7052For this trip, I stayed at Hostal Casa Conde, which was NOT EASY to find. On Saturday, I walked around for two hours trying to find the place. Google Maps had led me to the wrong place and the hostal would not answer their phone. After asking everyone from children to Grandmas, I was starting to get a little frustrated. Finally, I stopped into a beauty supply store and the owner said she thought she knew someone renting out rooms in their apartment. Sure enough, it was a match. The door to the building had a small business card taped to the front that read “Hostal Casa Conde.” Seriously? Would you think that was a hostal?pachuca2Maybe they shouldn’t skimp on advertising, because they almost lost my business. Hah!

Despite the difficulty finding the hostal, it was very charming. Elizabeth had comfortable beds, clean towels and a cute living area. For around $11/night, I was provided with WiFi, clean water, a twin bed, and tamales with coffee for breakfast. 🙂hacienda10While in Pachuca, I was also able to grab a drink with an old friend from CELTA. He is now working as a Cambridge examiner. We were able to talk about some teaching techniques and listen to a few live bands at Dunkelheit, which is a trendy German bar in the city center.img_7119The most difficult part of the trip was the limited transportation. The only available bus back to Querétaro was at 3:45, RIGHT when the Packer game was playing! Gah! Luckily, we had WiFi on the bus and Mom was able to give me the play-by-play. 😀10815736_10205297501946908_520663768_nOverall, another exciting adventure and another PACKER win! Woo hoo! Until next time. 😀

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