Guanajuato - A Lively and Pretty Place
Trip Start Aug 16, 2003
92Trip End Apr 21, 2004
We were due to make a four hour journey from Zacatecas to Guanajuato, via Leon, involving two buses and a 'direct' route...
We arrived at our destination a tad over seven hours from setting off! Never mind.
Not really having much of an idea where to get off the local bus from the central station as it seemed none of the roads were named, we were driven through one of the numerous subterranean passages that Guanajuato is famed for. After seeing most of the passengers disembark, we thought it best to jump off at the next stop. Fortunately, we were near some stairs returning to the surface world and actually, not too far from the hotel we had chosen
Thankfully, we were able to check in quickly, but it was nightfall before we had relieved our backs of our packs and removed the layer of grime, accumulated whilst travelling. We had a wander around the extremely vibrant city, dodging in and out of the endless stream of people enjoying the evening out of doors. We couldn't believe how many people there were on the streets: chatting to friends, watching the world go by, eating, or simply milling about. The actual sights that we took in gave evidence of a pretty and scenic city, with a pleasantly 'chilled-out' vibe.
Looking forward to exploring the university city in daylight, we headed out for breakfast relatively early, and were immediately surprised by the comparatively empty streets following our experiences during the previous evening. It seemed as if the residents of Guanajuato were (at least mildly) nocturnal. We had a pleasant repast outside a cafe playing rock music - breakfast to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, et al was definitely a cool first.
We spent the remainder of the morning wandering around the city, revisiting the sights we had only witnessed in the dark, or artificial display lighting of before
Finding ourselves near to the funicular, we took the short trip uphill to the 'El Pipila' monument, where we climbed inside the statue of the Mexican revolutionary and looked down at the patchwork of colours and shapes representing the city below. The top of the hill also provided us with an ample viewing area and we enjoyed a restful period picking out landmarks and appreciating the beauty of the scenery. Obviously as the area was a magnet for tourists, there were plenty of street vendors and hawkers, peddling their wares. They were actually quite inoffensive, accepting 'No' for an answer and moving onto the next potential punter. Some of the handicrafts on display were quite attractive - technicolour rugs that looked amazing here, but back home under the coffee table in England, and any visitors would wonder what happened to taste; immaculate wooden toys, with great attention to detail; and brightly garbed raggy dolls, each dressed uniquely in woolen clothes - it was all to be found in the city
With the sun once again wearing us down, we finished our bottles of water and made our way to the Jardin de la Union to slake our thirst with something slightly stronger. We found a cafe/bar with a two for one deal on Sol and spent a good few hours simultaneously imbibing and surprising ourselves on the ease of conversation between us (considering we've been together all day, every day -nearly- for months now!).
We spent the early part of the next morning having to move hotels as ours was fully booked for our third night, and although closer to the town centre, found ourselves paying slightly more for a real slum of a room. Beggars can't be choosers.
We fancied going back to the same cafe for breakfast, but this time had an altogether different experience. It all began when I asked for some more butter for my toast...
The waitress nodded acknowledgement of my request and nipped inside for a few moments. By this time my toast was beginning to cool. She emerged a little later, and without a glance in our direction, disappeared down the street
Ten minutes went by and my toast was stone-cold and rock-hard, but we waited patiently, in good faith. Nothing. We called over a waiter and asked for more coffee, whilst I dreamt of being able to finish my meal. He disappeared for five minutes, before returning with only one cup. We explained that we both wished to have another beverage. Again, he withdrew into the cafe. Another five minutes passed and the waitress returned empty handed, and ignored us! My coffee arrived another five minutes later, but still no butter!
Not possessing the necessary linguistic capabilities to do anything other than request the bill, we duly did so and left swiftly after leaving our payment, 'sin tip'.
The next part of the day was quite bizarre in that we walked a couple of kilometres out of town to the renowned Mummy Museum. As we arrived, we were stunned to see a considerable queue, despite it being around midday, during the week. It transpired that people from all over Mexico visit the museum to satisfy their curiosity and interest in death. What followed, began as quite interesting, if a little macabre, as we studied each of the exhibits: actual residents, dug up from the cemetery, mummified by the arid soil and minerals within it. After our fiftieth or so grotesquely contorted visage, we began to become 'Mummy Numb' and our 'enjoyment' withered at least as much as the flesh on some of the specimens (sorry).
We returned to the city centre, walking past the ever full queue of necro-enthusiasts, shaking off the weird sensation of what felt almost like 'voyeurism' to us.
We checked out some of the sights we had missed previously and had a late lunch at a cafe by the theatre. Meandering slowly back (we didn't want to spend any more time than was absolutely necessary) to our 'hotel', we changed and returned to the centre for a few drinks and a snack, before a chilly night in shabby surroundings.
Dan and Andrea