While I was in Mexico, December the 12th was the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. If you want to learn more about the holiday, go to Wikipedia, but the key takeaway for me, was that Mexico effectively shuts down for a few days. That’s all fine and good, because despite multiple trips to Mexico, there was one thing that I’d never been able to do—visit Real de Catorce. Furthermore, I knew that I’d need a few days—as it’s not exactly close to anything else.
At one time, Real de Catorce was one of Mexico’s richest silver producing cities, with some veins producing ore that was nearly half silver—for comparison, a few ounces per ton is considered pretty good today. Of course this led to an epic mining boom and over two centuries, they built a lot of mining infrastructure, some opulent homes, a mint and two large churches (as this is Mexico). However, you cannot really appreciate the city and how lucrative it must have been to get the silver out, until you realize that it’s situated in a valley at almost 9,000 feet, surrounded by desert and hundreds of kilometers from other large cities. Just to get supplies into the town, they had to dig a two kilometer tunnel after winding dozens of terrifying miles on a cobblestone road from the desert floor. Before the tunnel was built, you took your chances on one of many roads leading up over the mountains towering above Real de Catorce before descending into town. Let’s just say that I was terrified to ride a horse on one of these roads as one false step would send us both tumbling thousands of feet below. Imagine doing this with a wagon full of supplies.
1 lane tunnel that alternates between entry and exit all day long to get in or out