General News · 13th February 2012
Richard & Carol Trueman
Snowbirds Go South Part 5-G
Guanajuato is a curious mixture of experiences. The city is the capital of the state with the same name, it is not big but it is jammed in a mountainous terrain, colorful but reminding one of a human ant hill with its packed samplings of grandeur and poverty. The name means “hilly place of the frogs” and until the mining, damming and tunnels, it was a lush river valley that housed such creatures.
To navigate this terrain you have to go up, down or under and because of the density, roads and routes are mostly alleyways (callejones; kah-yeh-hone-ays) and tunnels. A third of the neighborhoods are connected by, drivable and walkable, underground tunnels, some a kilometer long. (We have not ventured underground yet). A third by narrow walkways, those callejones, and the last third by “normal” mostly narrow roads.
During the first five days we attacked three of the high spots by bumbling through narrow alleyways to the top for panoramic views of the city. Two of the first photos below show the city and one of the mountain behind. Guanajuato was renown for it silver and gold extraction, at one time providing up to a third of the world’s silver. (You can see a road and an mine entrance in that photo.)
One day, we visited the museum called Alhóndiga de Granaditas, (grain storehouse), a plain 3 story fort like building that occupies a full city block. Once it housed a years supply of grains in case of flood or famine. In the times of the fight for independence from mother Spain, the Royalists secured themselves inside and were impenetrable to Allende’s troops except for a brave man who, shielded by a large stone plate on his back, took tar and fire to the front door, allowing the insurgents to enter. Pictured in the link below are examples of a stairwell mural by José Chávez and a hallway to grain cubicles that now house giant busts and dedications to the 5 famous insurgents.
There are many churches in Guanajuato, but the one that put us over the top was The Valenciana Temple located in the most northern part of the city high in the hills near several mines and was the best example of baroque applique. The last 5 photos in the link below show this church.
Compared to San Miguel, this town is predominately mexican with nary a “gringo” face. The streets are covered with vendors, not selling trinkets but local food raw or prepared. If ever there was a place where the 100 mile diet could survive, it would be Guanajuato. The opening picture to this article shows 5 peppers that we bought for $1.50.
The last picture is a paper maché “day of the dead” woman of style. We attended a gallery opening the other night with 15 varied sculptures of skulled creatures or winged beasts.
Have we seen all of Guanajuato? No way. The weather has not been kind to us this week, with most of the days grey and drizzly We must leave for Lake Chapala next...
Please click on the link below to see 15 pictures at a good size...
thanks for the memories !
Comment by norberto on 18th February 2012
gracias Ricardo y Carol !
thanks for the wonderful pics, a tiny representation of the richness and beauty of Mexican history, culture, architecture, landscapes...
Alltogether, it seems you are on another world, and in another time, isn't it ?
keep enjoying yourselves...