Chilly walk up to the Bibliotheca today to go on a trip to Guanajuato. The retired lawyer guide from the botanical garden had recommended it. Who needs Trip Advisor?
Off we went with a group of 10 mostly, Canadians and our guide, Dali. His father had been an art prof. Wanted to call his brother Picasso but his mom vetoed it. The drive to Guanajuato is about 1½ hours through high dessert, mostly grass with cacti scattered about. As the road climbs over the mountains (we’d call them hills, think Kamloops) we start to see a covering of deciduous trees in leaf. We occasionally go through small towns along the way.
Our first view out Guanajuato is amazing even after the guide had told us what to expect. From our viewpoint we look down, straight down, to the town and across to a rising hillside. The buildings are colourful and stacked on top of each other, too steep for roads in many places. Stairs and pathways suffice. I think we were all a bit awestruck by the view and just stood and tried to take it all in.
Back in the bus and down into town. Another interesting part of Guanajuato is that it has a series of roads that are tunnelled under it. The network is so complex that there are actually intersections down there. Apparently one could drive around underground for 40 minutes and longer if there was a breakdown. We emerged from the underground to find a town that felt very European with squares and sidewalk cafes in abundance. The university that opened in the 1500’s is in the old town area and the sidewalks were teeming with students.
Guanajuato is the capital of the state of Guanajuato and has a population of about 160,000. It is also the birthplace of Diego Rivera. He left when he was a small boy and after being rejected for a city scholarship he had little to do with the town until shortly before his death. We visited his family home that one of his daughters converted into an art gallery and museum with his work as well as others. There is also a beautiful and ornate theatre in the centre of town that our guide took us through.
Turned loose on the town for 2 hours we wandered down the main street of old town to find wonderful bronzes, shady squares, and a museum dedicated to Don Quixote along with a variety of Don Quixote sculptures. Why Don Quixote…it has to do with people from Spain escaping to Mexico during the Franco period.
Back on the bus feeling fortunate to have had another view of Mexico not seen in the tourist brochures.