Taxco is a little pueblo in the hills of Northeast Guerrero, Mexico. It has colonial facades and cobblestone streets. Juan Ruiz de Alarcón is the city center neighborhood, a sizeable zocalo (public square) lined with trees and park benches where you’ll find all kinds of people wandering about, practicing el arte de perder el tiempo (the art of wasting time). These aren’t just solitary elderly men, but young couples, families and children running along and playing with a balloon or a plastic toy – available from street vendors who tend to carry too many things at once. Around the square are hotels and restaurants, usually three or four stories high, with a nice view of the city and hopefully without cheesy music (the zocalo itself is atmosphere enough).
There are many silver stores here, and most of them have discounts, although you’ll want details about how they charge. This website supplies Taxco .925 silver jewelry to retailers in the US and around the world, handmade and straight from this city. Or check us out here if you’d like to learn more about Santa Prisca Silver, the organization.
Santa Prisca de Taxco is by far the main feature of the square. When it was built in the 1750s, it was said to be the tallest building in Mexico, standing at just under 300 feet. It was commissioned by José de la Borda, one of the early, most prominent miners in the 1700s. It is and remains an active Catholic church, despite being somewhat crowded from time to time as the result of exposure from Taxco tourists. Santa Prisca de Taxco owes its construction to La Plata mining, of course, which remains one of the biggest sources of income for the locality. A local folk tale gives Santa Prisca, himself, credit for reappearing and protecting the construction site of the church during a heavy storm. This tale is reimagined in a tapestry that still hangs in Santa Prisca de Taxco today.
Here and all throughout the town you’ll notice old Volkswagen Beetles. The durability of these old cars and the ease of fixing them are said to make them perfect for the bumpy stone streets. Don’t try to get an Uber, because you won’t find one. The city has an organized taxi service that has kept Uber out. As aggressive as Uber has been, even in countries where it’s illegal and where it nonetheless continues to operate illegally, the cab organization here is so strong that it has managed to keep Uber out, despite the fact that it has the legal right to operate.
In the square, there might be a mariachi band, especially at night or in the late evening. Definitely, during a holiday, with absurdly articulate trumpet players, negotiating prices between songs. X amount of pesos for x amount of songs. I’ve seen them refuse a price they don’t want and then move ten feet away to play for a couple for free who were sitting in a car, didn’t care and didn’t want the attention.
The Burning of the Bulls
At night or on random holidays the square can get wild, but not really dangerous; at least, not from crime. One night in the zocalo I saw a crazy ritual that I figured must have stemmed from Spanish bullfighting. The burning of the bulls, but a miniature version.
There were at least two-dozen bull-shaped framework figures lined up in the square. Each had been rigged with fireworks that were set to go off for a five or six seconds continuously, with fuses that would make for short intervals in between. A guy would grab one and light the starting fuse, then hand it off to somebody else who would run aggressively along the edge of the large crowd that had surrounded them, chasing them away and dispersing them. Then, they’d pass the bull off to someone else who would jiggle it a bit, which seemed to help set the next round of fireworks off, and do the same. Each bull seemed to have about a dozen bursts of fireworks in it. Once it was done, they’d grab another explosive bull and continue with the craziness. This must have gone on continuously for at least an hour until finally, they ran out. It was another one of those things you see in Mexico and elsewhere that would have been shut down in minutes by the authorities, a total disregard for safety that was exhilarating and amazingly, I didn’t see anyone get hurt.
You’ll also notice a police truck stationed in the zocalo manned with uniformed men armed with heavy assault rifles. I left my apartment one evening at around 8pm and saw maybe a dozen of these officers walking along the street. They had just happened to be right outside my door as they were on patrol. It was startling at first; they were almost reminiscent of a patrolling occupational army. The general presence of heavy weaponry can take some getting used to, depending on the level of culture shock you’ve experienced before: Taxco has not been completely immune to cartel activity and is considered part of a banned area (as is all of Guerrero) by the US State Department. But incidents are rare and usually only involve folks who stoke coals they shouldn’t want to. Once you see what ordinary life is like here, the serious problems seem highly unlikely.
I have never even seen a serious argument here in public between adults aside from a short spat between quarrelling brothers, and all the discontented children seem to have been sent away somewhere. The general mood is pacific, muy tranquilo. Although the traffic is sometimes heavy on narrow city streets that were intended originally just for a horse and carriage. I once saw a child, maybe nine years old, knock over a fruit carton at grocery stand, spilling dozens of limes out onto the street. He was there alone to buy something for his mother, most likely. No one scolded him or looked at him askance. People just picked up the fruit, put it back nonchalantly and carried on with their day.
There are many silver markets in Taxco where you can find virtually anything you’d want at great prices. I’ll continue to discuss Taxco on the blog in the future, because there is much left to say!
Check out our jewelry store if you’re interested in taking a look at our handmade .925 sterling silver that comes straight from Taxco.
We also have a referral program to reward those who successfully refer clients to us who become our customers. It’s very simple. Let us know if you’re interested!