Off the Prairie and into Chihuahua we rode. This is proper Cowboy country emphasised by every other man you see in the street wearing cowboy hat and boots.
Chihuahua is the capital of Chihuahua state but seems to really be the capital of the north, due in no small part to it's role in both Mexican independence and the Mexican revolution. I've been reading John Reed's Insurgent Mexico which focuses on the exploits of Francisco "Pancho" Villa, a bandit-cum-revolutionary and commander of the División del Norte in the Constitutionalist Army. Much of his revolutionary activities were based in these parts and I was thrilled to be able to visit his house while we were there and try to learn a bit more about the revolution. It was also where he was assassinated...
Chihuahua is an old colonial town that has undoubtedly lost some of it's charm to development and urbanisation. But it has a rich and fascinating history that echoes out through the rest of Mexico that I can't help but find particularly endearing.
From Chihuahua we caught bus for 10 hrs through the aforementioned cowboy country to Durango. Durango is also a state capital (of the state Durango) and the birthplace of my new hero, Pancho. It was also central to the Mexican revolution, along with nearby Torreón, which both played host to pivotal battles.
We were fortunate enough to meet a lovely woman from Montana on the bus ride there so we had dinner with her on the first night while watching the Christmas Parade roll down the main street. The for the rest of the time we mosied around a few museums (which are all largely in Spanish) and generally absorbed a bit of the town's vibe.
Durango probably had a little more life in it than Chihuahua - especially once the sun went down and the central pedestrian strip, Calle Constitucion, came alive with buskers of all stripes. But again, it suffers a little from 'just another big city' syndrome.
And so ends our brief tour of Northern Mexico. From here we follow Pancho Villa's revolutionary path and head down to the old Silver towns.