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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

El Fuerte, Mexico

The Birthplace of Zorro!

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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Continuing on our El Chepe trip through Mexico's Copper Canyon, our last stop on this leg was El Fuerte.

El Fuerte, meaning "The Fort" has beautiful architecture, interesting history, and among other things, boasts to be the birthplace of the legendary folk hero, Zorro.

Well... gotta see THAT!

El Chepito, the "Little El Chepe" El Fuerte, Mexico

El Chepito, the "Little El Chepe"

I'm pretty silly, but I would love to take this mini tour vehicle through the town of El Fuerte. What could it hurt?

I'm sure traffic would stop to allow us through, and we're big enough that anyone could see us coming... Best of all, I probably wouldn't get motion-sick!

Woooo, WOOOOO!!! Chugga, chugga, chugga.

Mexico's flag with the eagle eating a snake while perching on a blooming paddle cactus

Mexico's flag with the eagle eating a snake while perching on a blooming paddle cactus

 

 

 

This particular image comes from an Aztec legend. Their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle on a nopal eating a serpent. The city that the Aztecs built is now Mexico City.

Mexico City was first called Mexico Tenochtitlan. It was built on an island in what was then Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. These days, the lake is gone, but the city still stands.

Colorful El Fuerte city sign, El Fuerte, Mexico

Colorful El Fuerte city sign

All over Mexico, today's fashion is to have the name of the city spelled out in big, bright, colorful letters while depicting history or notable things about the town on the letters themselves.

Here you see the large "El Fuerte" letters standing proudly in the center of town at the Plaza.

You will find similar style letters in Morelia, Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara airport, Comitan and even the old, old town of Patzcuaro.

El Fuerte's Municipal Building, El Fuerte, Mexico

El Fuerte's Municipal Building

The colonial city of El Fuerte was founded in 1564 by the Spanish captain Francisco de Ibarra. At the time it was known as the town of San Juan Bautista de Carapoa.

In 2009, El Fuerte, Sinaloa became one of the "Pueblos Magicos" of Mexico. A "Magic Village" is Mexico's version of a World Heritage Site where you can experience Mexico's rich history and colonial architecture.

This Municipal building houses every aspect of local and regional government. It is huge and has been restored to it's original splendor.

Mural inside the Municipal building of El Fuerte, Mexico depicting the Deer Dance in the center

The Deer Dance done by Natives is depicted in the center of this mural.

Inside the municipal building are murals on the stair wells and other interior walls. The painter was a self-taught local.

These sorts of murals representing the local and Mexican history in general are very common in government buildings.

Another mural in the Municipal Building, El Fuerte, Mexico

The fort itself and El Chepe train

This looks like the fort in El Fuerte is being held by the hands of a clergy man, coming up from a clerical collar. I'm not sure of the significance of this particular symbolism, but it was important to the town - or at least to the painter - in order to include it here.

The Aztec Warrior and The Maiden

The Aztec Warrior and The Maiden

If you have been to Mexico, chances are you have seen this stylized version of The Aztec Warrior and His Maiden.

The story goes like this:

Before the Spanish came, Aztecs ruled Mexico. A Tlaxcala warrior fell in love with his princess, who was known for her incredible beauty. His name was Popocatépetl, hers was Iztaccíhuatl; Popo and Izta for short.

 Popo asked Izta's father for her hand in marriage and the father agreed, but only if Popo returned victorious from battling the Aztecs, with the heads of his enemies to prove it. So Popo went off to war, promising to return. After months of waiting, a rival of Popo's, in love with Izta himself of course and with mal-intent, told the princess that her warrior would never return because he had died in battle.

Heartbroken, Izta became deeply depressed and died of a broken heart. When Popo finally did return carrying the heads his enemies, he found a corpse instead of bride.

So, consumed with grief, Popo carried Izta's body to the mountains, where he laid her out and stood watch over her. After a long sorrowful vigil, the gods took pity on them, transforming the tragic couple into the eternal peaks of Popo and Izta. These are the "Smoking Mountain" watching over the sleeping figure of the "White Lady Mountain," his love her smoldering for eternity.

The Portales at El Fuerte's Plaza

The Portales at El Fuerte's Plaza

The day was beautiful and a bit of wandering around El Fuerte brought us to the main Plaza. This is a style of Mexican cities that you will see all over the country. With a garden-filled plaza in the middle - usually with a fountain - the government buildings surround it. A church or cathedral is part of the architectural mix as well.

People gather at the plaza because "everything" is there. Religious and secular buildings, gardens, stores, restaurants and natural beauty.

The gazebo in the center of El Fuerte's Plaza, Mexico

In the center of the Plaza

Almost always, there is a gazebo in the center of the plaza too. Here you see the fountain, the beautiful gardens and the gazebo. Often there will be free entertainment performed from the gazebo and people can gather around, dance and enjoy the music.

Placido Vega y Dasa was a governor of Sinaloa and warrior for Mexico

Placido Vega y Dasa was a governor of Sinaloa and warrior for Mexico

Placido Vega y Dasa was a General of the Mexican military and the Governor of the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

He was a direct descendent from Cristopher Columbus' great-great grandson and was also a direct descendant of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. His ancestors were members of royalty and nobility of Spain. His illustrious family owned vast lands, valleys, and gold mines, but Placido did not sympathize with his family's ideology of repression of the poor.

Since he was both idealistic and had an intense personality, he pursued a military career and became governor at the age of 29.

Evidently through the twists of history, he also became a vice-president of the Union Club of San Francisco in the United States. As an officer of the Union Club, he contributed both time and money working on Abraham Lincoln's 1864 re-election.

Billy and Akaisha in El Fuerte, Mexico

Billy and Akaisha smiling with the sun in their eyes!

Should I sneeze or smile? It was a tough choice, here...

Take the picture, Billy! Take the picture!

AAAAA-CHOOO!

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The renovated home of the legendary hero, Zorro, Posada del Hidalgo, El Fuerte, Mexico

The renovated home of the legendary hero, Zorro

There seems to be some confusion over whether Zorro, in Spanish meaning The Fox, is a real or fictional character.

Americans tend to believe he was a fictional character created in 1919 by American writer Johnston McCulley.

But Mexicans have told the story of Zorro from generation to generation and that story was still heard in the times of Porfirio Diaz, who ruled as President of Mexico from 1184 to 1911.

Diego de la Vega, soon to be known as Zorro, was born here in this hacienda in 1804.

His birthplace has been renovated and is now a hotel across from the famous fort from which El Fuerte gets its name.

A statue of Zorro inside the Hacienda where he was born, El Fuerte, Mexico

A statue of Zorro inside the Hacienda where he was born

 

 

 

In this beautiful hacienda, which is now a resort hotel, you will find a bronze statue of the Legendary Hero, Zorro.

According to the chronicles, Zorro was born in this town located between the Sea of ​​Cortez and the Copper Canyon.

While Diego de la Vega spent his first 10 years here in El Fuerte, business concerns brought his father, Don Alejandro, to Alta California.

Years went by and in 1821 (when Zorro would have been 17) rumors began to reach El Fuerte of the hero/bandit of California who defended the cause of the poor against the Spanish rule.

A closer look at the handsome bronze statue of Zorro with his sword and whip. El Fuerte, Mexico

A closer look at the handsome bronze statue of Zorro with his sword and whip

American writer Johnston McCulley had his fictional Zorro make his debut in the 1919 novel The Curse of Capistrano. McCulley took the information about the legend and created a fabricated character. Originally this novel was meant as a stand-alone story. However, the success of the 1920 film adaptation The Mark of Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks convinced McCulley to write more Zorro stories for about four decades.

So is Zorro a for-real hero? Or simply a figment of an American writer's imagination?

Maybe he's both!

A restored fort on the site of the original. El Fuerte, Mexico

A restored fort on the site of the original

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In 1610 a fort was built to ward off the fierce Zuaque and Tehueco Native Americans, who constantly harassed the Spaniards.

The city of El Fuerte (The Fort) gets its name due to a fortress like this restored one, built to protect these Spaniards from the natives who used to attack this village.

El Fuerte served as the gateway to the vast frontiers of the northern territories of Sonora, Arizona and California, all of which were sparsely populated by  these tribes of indigenous.

At the top of the fort looking out, El Fuerte, Mexico

At the top of the fort looking out

At the fort's lookout, you can see the city on one side, and the Nature Preserve on the other. Boats can be hired to take you on bird watching tours or to go Black Bass fishing.

small fruit market in El Fuerte, Mexico

Um... do you have any bananas?

 

 

 

In tropical climates we purchase bananas regularly for the potassium they have and for their ease of eating. You wouldn't believe how many styles of bananas are available!

Here I am at a small local fruit and vegetable market in El Fuerte.

The Plaza, El Fuerte, Mexico

The Plaza, El Fuerte, Mexico

Back at the Plaza in El Fuerte, which looks a bit like the Plaza in Campeche.

You can catch the El Chepe Train here in El Fuerte also, and take it onwards to Chihuahua. Plan to spend a day or so here, especially if you like boating, fishing or birding.

For more stories and places of interest in Mexico, click here.

For videos of Mexico, click here.

 

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About the Authors

 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

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