I haven't been to Zacatecas, the Mexican state my grandparents hail from since I was in junior high in the 1980s. In fact, that's the only time I've been there. I have great memories of riding a burro, taking an aerial tram up a peak in the middle of town, and relaxing in natural hot springs without a care in the world, even when it started raining.
I've been talking about going back for years, and I came close when I studied Spanish in Guadalajara in 1997 only to abruptly return home when my grandfather passed away. Since then whenever I broach the idea of a vacation down south, all I hear is a chorus of "Mexico is so dangerous" and "let's wait until things get better." I realize I'm going to be waiting a lifetime, so I'm just going to have to go by myself one of these days.
In the meantime, a little piece of Zacatecas is here in Los Angeles. A bronze sculpture of Zacatecas-native Antonio Aguilar was unveiled yesterday at Placita de Dolores, which is just off Olvera Street, and the stone base was chiseled out from a Zacatecas quarry.
Of the $200,000 price tag, $50,000 came from "city beautification project funds," which sounds like a portion of the general fund, which sounds like a bad deal in these lean times. At least the artist, Dan Medina, is a local guy, so hopefully he'll recycle some of his fee back into the local economy.