Wowed in Guanajuato [Not so S.O.F.T.]

This is a continuation of the wonderful travel series from earlier this year by the Champagne Dame – the S.O.F.T: single older female travels! Only this time she is joined by her partner, Panama Hat…. read her previous entry here

 

Guanajuato (wahn-a-wa-to) is a heritage listed town perched on top of ravines – dotted with multi-coloured houses and colonial mansions, and windy cobblestoned alleys (callejones). The town grew rich with the silver barons exploiting the indigenous indians and of course the church also grew wealthy.

We were totally overwhelmed by the Festival Cervantino – named after Miguel Cervantes – which is a serious cultural extravaganza. What the Adelaide Festival of Arts is to Australia, so the Festival Cervantino is to Latin America. The streets and narrow alleyways were like a huge mosh pit: full of mainly young drunken rampaging students and a few senior disabled honeymooners from Australia. This is a university town and the drunks had fireworks! I think i jumped with alarm every few seconds. There were mad mariachi bands, buskers and strange solo performances, but the most colourful of all were the Callejoneadas (or street parties) led by groups of students in traditional clothing.

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It was a real sensory overload compared to shopping in the Bay Mall! And me with no Spanish..

One of the more unique aspects of this town is its extensive underground tunnels that were once rivers. The locals believe it keeps the cartels out because the only way out is through the tunnel. It is a very safe town.

I very bravely set out on my own to visit the haciendas of the rich and powerful silver barons. Of course one was closed, when I thought the Mexican rule was closed Mondays – but I did get to see the Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera. It was amazing, with an enormous tranquil, shady garden and a fascinating historical home – of course the priest’s quarters were also quite lavish – no vow of poverty here. Thankfully I did not get mugged and negotiated my way back with my few words of Spanish! We have also taken to the street food and are still living but by day 2, I am already into taco overload!

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Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato and his home is now a great gallery of much of his work. A very middle class home for a revolutionary. Apparently he was ‘persona non grata’ for many years, because he was a ‘dirty commie’, but now they love him and milk him for every tourist dollar they can get!

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The town has now quietened, and the rampaging students have exited, no doubt with huge hangovers and a few firework burns. It has left us with the locals and the barking dogs – my earplugs are working overtime!

 

Have you visited this area? Or Mexico in general? What did you get up to? Did you like it? Tell us below.