Museo General Francisco Villa/ Palacio de Zambrano, Durango

I ventured out again around 5:00 to check out the teléférico. What are those things called in English?! Téléférique en français… Oh, cable car! Geeze! 🙂 I got to the entrance and there was a sign to access the site from the library. Okay.


Yup, officially working off my giant lunch!


Unfortunately, the cable cars were down for maintenance until late, but would open again at 10:00 in the morning.

The view from the library was worth the climb!



By this point, I had a bad blister on the small toe of my left foot. I always get them there and when I do, I dream of amputating the toe as it gives me nothing but grief! But rather than do something so drastic, I kept an eye out for a pharmacy so I could get some Band-Aids, having forgotten to tuck a few in my purse. I found a small one at the corner of Independencia and Florida/20 de noviembre. There are a lot of pharmacies in Mexico! There, I told the pharmacist that I needed ‘this,’ holding up a picture of a Band-Aid on my phone. I did that because the last time I asked for a bandage for a foot issue, I was offered a tensor bandage. It was $1 for two!

I wound up being there for quite a while because the pharmacist was curious about me and pleased that I had enough Spanish to answer his questions. We ended up having a really interesting conversation about Mazatlán, which he described as “Not for me. Very dirty and extremely noisy. Nothing to do if you don’t like going to the beach.”

This was interesting because I was going to have two more similar conversations the next day. But, you know, I can’t entirely disagree with him, not now that I have another colonial city to compare Maz to. What I thought about Maz being ‘Mexican’ is really Maz being Maz. Mexico isn’t always that noisy or chaotic. Durango, while busy, and much larger than Mazatlán, was incredibly quiet and what I saw of it was much better ordered than Maz, as well as not as rough around the edges and definitely a lot cleaner. Durango wasn’t ‘better’, don’t get me wrong, but this conversation with the pharmacist reminded me to avoid generalizing about a country because of one experience, something I’m always telling people not to do!

My best friend asked me if I’d consider pulling up my Maz roots and moving to Durango for the rest of the winter. The thought never even crossed my mind. It actually gets cold in Durango! 🙂

Speaking of which, I had perfect weather all weekend, just overcast enough to not sunburn me, and warm enough, even at night, that I could wear a skirt or dress with sandals and just a light cardi. And none of the promised Saturday rain materialised!

From the pharmacy, I decided it was too early to call it a day, so I opted to go check out the Museo General Francisco Villa/Palacio de Zambrano, about the famous figure from the Mexican Revolutionary War. You may have heard of him as Pancho Villa. Entrance here was also about $22 and I got an introduction to the museum in French!!!

There are two interesting aspects to the museum. First is, of course, the palace itself, built by a mining tycoon. The museum’s rooms are sprawled through several rooms of the palace, but the signage and subtle guest direction is really well done.

Looking towards the entrance courtyard:


The first room, about the origins of the palace, had signage in Spanish, English, and Braille! The rest of the museum was only in Spanish, though.


Another courtyard:


Staircase and one of many beautiful murals:


Your tour continues thataway. There are so many smaller museums that aren’t laid out as clearly as this one was.


Stone arches:


More stone arches:


The Mexican flag’s eagle in stained glass:


It was interesting to learn about Pancho Villa. Much like I learned from a Quebec perspective that celebrated Manitoban hero Louis Riel was a scoundrel, I always got the U.S. perspective that Pancho Villa was a criminal. Historic perspective always depends on who is telling the story! Villa described himself as a “simple and rough man who learned to read very late and who lived the wild life of the mountains.”


There was a lot of information to take in since I was new to this history and so I won’t even try to recap all the info I was bombarded with!

But I do have to admire him here, where he said that every community in Mexico should have a school for the betterment of Mexican society as a whole:


One of the final exhibits was about the Mexican legal system. I liked how the old layers of wallpaper in the door frames of that room were preserved:



This mural of Villa on his horse is in the entrance lobby and is apparently a famous image of him:


Villa was assassinated and there was disagreement about where he should be interred. His tomb was eventually ransacked and his body decapitated!


His body (literally) was finally laid to final rest in Mexico City:


As for his head, there are a lot of theories about where it wound up, including in the hands of Yale’s Skull and Bones Society!


I could have easily spent a full day just in this museum thoroughly reading instead of just skimming all the information, but I knew I couldn’t learn Mexican history that quickly and that I should just let what I’d learned sink in and then build on it.

I went back to the hotel for a bit and then eventually got hungry, so I went out to find a light dinner. After circling around for ages and finding absolutely nothing appealing (despite an abundance of choice), I decided my growling stomach was lying and I wasn’t hungry. I got back to the hotel and noticed a torta restaurant literally across the street from the entrance! All that walking and the most appealing thing was right there! I went in and ordered their ‘especial’ (which means whatever they want to throw into a sandwich special). It was very delicious and combined guacamole with mustard! A strange concept that worked! It really hit the spot and then I was done for the night.

I was in bed early (9:00), but the brats next door came thundering up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs for several hours, so I didn’t really get to sleep until well past 1:00, knowing that I’d be awake with the bell chime at 7:00. So much for a restful vacation, but, hey, I can sleep when I’m dead!

8 thoughts on “Museo General Francisco Villa/ Palacio de Zambrano, Durango

  1. I has fascinated by the story of Pancho Villa who like you say was a hero to some and a scoundrel to others. Doroteo Arango, aka Francisco “Pancho” Villa was a bit of a Robin Hood character who began his run from the law and assumed the name Francisco “Pancho” Villa when, as a 16 year old sharecropper, he killed the hacienda owner who had raped his twelve year old sister. There is little recorded of his activities for the next few years while he and his followers “liberated” some of the vast parcels of land held by the Hacienda owners and redistributed the land in parcels to the poor and to the families of his fallen followers.

    There is another Pancho Villa Museo in Zacatecas at the top of yet another teleferico. You will have to get there one day and add to your knowledge of this hero of the common people. The displays in the Zacatecas museum are centered around Villa’s great victory in a battle in that city.

    • Thank you, Mr. Encyclopedia! (And I mean that sincerely!) That’s sort of what I gleaned from the informational placards. The only thing I found odd about the museum was the order in which they laid out the info about Villa’s life. I didn’t learn until something like room 16 of 17 that he wasn’t born Francisco Villa! I still don’t know what Pancho is supposed to mean, other than finding a definition that says it’s an adjective to describe something that is tranquil, calm, and satisfying. Not sure if that’s relevant to him or not!

      As for Zacatecas, Julia (you meet her in the post that just posted, about the cable car/teléférico), she said that based on our day together, it would be her second choice for me to move to after Mérida, and only second because of the climate! I have to say that the climate doesn’t interest me too much, but I would love to visit the city!

  2. The ideal situation for people living in Mexico is to have two homes, one in the mountains for summers and one by the beaches for the winters.

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