Getting cultured and learning Spanish in Zacatecas

We arrive in Zacatecas, a beautiful colonial town tucked into a valley. We drop into the city, following incredibly steep cobblestone roads that wind all over. We promptly get lost, so we head towards the center of the city and park the bikes outside a cathedral. Ben and Brian go look for lodging while I watch over the bikes.


Brian has a great description about our arrival to Zacatecas.

After parking up & literally walking to where we needed to be we then returned to the bikes & as we only knew the route we had walked, we rode across pedestrian zones, through city squares & bounced down kerbs. It reminded me of a scene from the original Italian Job. Good fun, urban off road could be the start of a new craze.

After an hour, they return with good news – they found a nice, inexpensive hostel downtown. It doesn’t have secure parking, but the city is safe, quiet, there is a doorman working 24/7, and there is already a BMW F650GS Dakar parked out front. The bike belongs to Eric and Sabrina from Colorado. Their ADV Ride Report, A Year of Summer (2up to South America), is great, so check it out. We are staying at the Hostel Villa Colonial, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. It’s an old rowhouse converted into a hostel with incredible views of the main cathedral from the rooms as well as the rooftop terrace. We grab a private room with 2 beds, a bathroom, and TV for 340 pesos a night ($9US each). Quiet evenings, hot showers, daily room cleaning and bed making, 2 kitchens, 10 peso beers, 25 pesos all-you-can-drink margaritas Thursday nights (uh oh), friendly staff, free wi-fi, interesting and eclectic clientele – basically anything and everything you’d want in a hostel.


Highly recommended – Hostel Villa Colonial in Zacatecas.

After unpacking the bikes and settling into our new digs, the 3 of us take a walk around the city. I see a beautiful girl on the street, and decide to go say hello to her. Most conversations I have with someone in Mexico last about 2 minutes until I’m out of my Spanish material, but luckily, my new friend, Rocio, is an English teacher for elementary school as well as a psychology professor at the University of Zacatecas. Smart, and speaks fluent English. Score. She invites the 3 of us to join her and her friends later that evening. We grab a bite to eat and go track Rocio back down. Finding her in the same place I met her, Rocio and her friends, Edith and Caro, take us on a tour of the city. Edith has a passion for stories, and takes us to locations where some of the legends of the city are from.

Ben has a good recap of one of the stories on his blog,

200 years ago, a woman in this building had many dogs. She treated them very badly and didn’t feed them. One day she came home and the dogs were so angry and hungry that they ate her. The neighbors feared the dogs and the entire building was boarded up – all the windows and all the doors were sealed. No one has entered since…

The boarded up entrance to the dog woman’s house.


Edith giving us a history lesson.

After a great introduction to Zacatecas, we call it a night, but not before Armando has one last bite to eat.


Fried pork skin, filled with pork pieces, lettuce, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and spices. 15 pesos, or about $1US. I still can’t get over the prices of things here in Mexico.

Brian and I decide to sign up for Spanish language school at Fenix Language Institute. It’s $110 a week for 25 hours of lessons, and because the school is not very busy, we have 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 lessons. Brian and I are in the same class together, as our Spanish is pretty bad. I do have a couple of years of Spanish from high school, and have an easier time with class since it is entirely in Spanish. Plus, I’ve got some extra help as Rocio offered to tutor me in the evenings.

The next week consists of Spanish class, tours of the city, and spending time with Rocio and her friends. Here’s the week in pictures and captions:


After dinner at Wendy’s with Edith, Rocio, Caro, and Frederico, who owns a hostel and is a fellow dual-sport rider and traveler. His hostel, El Hotel Ruiz, is a great place to get stay downtown and get any work done on your bike while in Zacatecas. Frederico knows everyone in town and can source any parts you need.


A free concert every Thursday evening in one of the main plazas. See Eric and Sabrina’s Ride Report for some incredible photography of the concert and the rest of the city (yes I did snag some photos from him for my post!)

A great local bar, Las Quince Letras (The 15 Leters… count em up). Being the only gringos around, we attract a lot of attention (some unwanted), but we have a great time enjoying the mariachi band, drinking mezcal and cervezas. I learn the proper way to drink Mezcal – “Pa’rriba, pa’bajo, al centro y pa dentro” (up, down, center and in) before taking the first shot.


The Museo Rafael Coronel Zacatecas is a museum located in a restored ruin. The roof of the main hall is open to the sky, and the grounds are well maintained with flowers and bushes growing around broken walls and arches. The museum contains over 3000 masks.





At the Quinta Real Zacatecas, a beautiful hotel built into an old bullring. It’s expensive and classy, so we just grab drinks at the hotel bar along the floor of the bullring.


My Spanish tutor and guide to Zacatecas, Rocio.


Our Spanish teacher at Fenix, Lolita, with her daughter.

The Fesitval Cultural began while we were in Zacatecas, so there was live music, dancing, and performances available every night for free.


After spending a week in Zacatecas, I start to get the itch to move. A couple of other motorcyclists have made it into town and are heading to Guanajuato, so I join them with Brian. Zacatecas has been a wonderful city, and I look forward to going back.

About Sper

LA born. Michigan raised. Current Chicagoan. Technology nerd. Motorcycleπ enthusiast. I quit my job, sold all of my stuff, and am riding my dream through the US, Canada, Latin and South America.
This entry was posted in Ben Slavin, blog, Brian Gohery, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Getting cultured and learning Spanish in Zacatecas

  1. Auntie M says:

    Great post – loved reading the other blogs and getting their perspectives, too. Just keeps getting better & better. Beautiful city, too, very Euro/Adriatic. Hope you find yourself somewhere spectacular for Dia de los Muertos next weekend. Salud!

  2. Marco dos Santos says:

    Hey Sper looks like you are having a great time. It was nice having you over to work on your bike. I see that the repairs are holding up. Just curious what your cost per day is averaging. I am digging the pics, can’t wait to see the ones from cervantino festival.
    Ride like the wind.
    Cheers, Marco

    • Sper says:

      Hey Marco! Good to hear from you. Thanks again for letting me use your shop! I spent about $700 in Baja, with almost $300 of that being to import the bike and to purchase the ferry ticket from La Paz to Mazatlan. In mainland Mexico, my budget is $35/day, which I’ve easily been able to reach by finding cheap or free accommodation and by eating mostly street food. I haven’t had any problems with the motorcycle yet, which would probably put me over my budget for a few days, but I’ve been coming under almost every day since settling down in Zacatecas and Guanajuato.

  3. chris kelly says:

    Great to see your photos and hear your stories. We moved to a nice place in Malibu. I’m still selling off KLR parts. I bought a KTM 950 Adventure !!

  4. Yas says:

    Hey guys , it’s delightful blog you have here , I just dropped by to say thank you for taking me to all these places with posting your trip log and pictures.

    Eagerly waiting for your Christmas post.

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