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 means hill of frogs, or place of noisy frogs. We have renamed it ‘Place of Noisy Dogs’!
Every house has a guard dog, whose job it is to bark at night – a bit like dog mariachi. The locals ignore it, but it is a bit much for a gringo to ignore, especially when combined with all the other raucous sounds of Latin America. Loud speakers on the back of trucks which cruise the suburbs, Mexican love songs wafting over the roofs, vendors selling bread (pan) and gorditas, bells ringing and sirens wailing. Then there is the acrid and pungent drain smell, which always remind travellers that they are not at home.
The tacos are delicioso, but after 5 days we are in taco overload – even McDonald’s is starting to look good. As yet we have not succumbed to Montezuma’s revenge (I hope I will not regret saying this) I have been very careful, and although we eat street food, we avoid salad, cut fruit and ice, and only eat where the locals eat en masse.
The altitude is 1,815 metres which why we get so puffed climbing the steep and narrow alleys. Our Airbnb is perched on top of Mt Buffa in the professional area, our host tells us. It is a long way out of town, but away from the noise of the Centro. Apparently Mexico City is even higher at 2,200 metres.
We visited the nearby town of San Miguel de Allende, once a mecca for the Beat Generation in the 50s and hippies in the 60s and now they have all retired here. Lots of long flowing grey hair in pony tails and beards – and that is just the women – all with that stoned senior look. It is a very picturesque and quaint town, reminiscent of a Tuscan Village. It would be a fantastic place to retire in: cosmopolitan, arty and sophisticated. It would be similar to Australians retiring in Bali or Thailand, but with Latin flair.
Another member of the Beat Generation was Gene Bryon, who settled in Guanajuato in the 50s, in an amazing historic crumbling hacienda. She was a talented artist, sculptor and ceramicist and her house is now a museum, crammed full of her amazing work. We had a photo taken in front of her hand made fireplace.
Very disappointed with the shopping so far – just masses of cheap tourist junk which seems to be made in China. I had imagined it to be full of amazing jewellery and Frida Kahlo clothing. We did, however, buy two amazing hats for The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos).
Lots of little stalls are springing up for the Day of the Dead, selling sugar skulls and other candied delights; it is sort of crossing over with Halloween. We are looking forward to this event which we will be in Mexico City for.
Our last day in The Place of Barking Dogs and Noisy Frogs; we visited the home of Chavez Murado – the last of the muralists under Diego Rivera – and his artist wife Olga Costa. They lived in a well at the end of an ancient aqueduct. Well, well, well (I had to say that)! It was a renovation worthy of Grand Designs; an interesting and unique home.
The day we visited groups of kindergarten children were being led through for The Day of the Dead. Tales of dead children produced stunned silence – a great methodology! Then they were given Dead Bread and so were we by the gleeful attendants who were enjoying every minute of their job.
I also visited the Alhondiga where I was given a senior free admission – not sure if I was thrilled or insulted by that. This was the scene of the first uprising against Spain. The retribution was The Lottery of Death where every fourth citizen was tortured and hung. A bit like our local council. Chavez Murado painted the grotesque and gruesome murals which depicted all of the gory happenings.
Then it was onto the Ally of the Kiss where lovers who kiss on the third step will be lucky in love.
Tomorrow, which is Halloween, we’re taking the bus to District Federale (D.F. or Mexico City). The first class buses are very comfortable, safe and efficient, and they give you free food and drinks! We will be wearing our hats!
Have you visited Mexico before? What did you do there? And if not, what other interesting local celebrations have you participated in? Tell us below!