Guanajuato Respite

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May 3rd 2017
Published: May 16th 2017
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Guanajuato sits on hills about 4800 feet above sea level in the middle of what was once one of the richest mother loads of silver in the world. Surrounded by mines, some still active, Guanajuato is filled with colonial-era buildings that reflect the wealth the mines created.

I’m back here less as a tourist and more to decide whether this might be a place I’d want to visit regularly and for longer stays. It’s pedestrian friendly, the weather is generally good. Guadalajara and plenty of other interesting places are easily accessible using this as a base.

What makes the city so pedestrian friendly is that most traffic runs under rather than through the town. Tunnels had been built in the early 19th Century to divert a river to reduce flooding in Guanajuato. In the 1970s and 80s the tunnels were repurposed for traffic, though they frequently flood during the rainy season. These underground roads make reading a map of Guanajuato difficult, since it really has to be seen in 3 dimensions. This is particularly true for the bus routes, some of which run through the town; others run under it.

I’m staying in a casita about a 20 minute walk from the center of town in a neighborhood called Municipio Libre. It’s an easy walk to a supermarket and is quieter than being in the tourist center. The only drawback is a steep hill to scale the final few minutes home from the center of town. A small bus runs regularly back and forth and stops just outside my door, but the last run back is at about 9:15 PM. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, though it is hard to beat the 30c bus.

I’m trying to avoid being simply a tourist, but find it difficult to not just spend my days exploring the streets of town and the narrow walks up hills from the center of town. I can spend an hour over a coffee and time somehow disappears without much accounting for it.

Guanajuato has become a center for music and dance, so my evenings have been spent going to free events taking place in squares and other places in town. In one evening alone there was folkloric dance in one square, a rock festival in another and a swing band in the Patio del Ex Convento Jesuita. All of this was organized by students at the University that sits in the center of town. Even without these events, every night there’s the “Estudiantinas” , also called “callejoneadas”, which are groups of musicians that lead people through the streets and alleys of town performing music along the way. Though sometimes called "Estudiantinas", the performers are professionals and you can catch various parts of their nightly routine by simply being in different parts of town throughout the evening. There has been so much going on that one night it was difficult to focus on the music where I was because of all the other music coming from just around the corners.

Now that I've hung around for awhile, some day trips are on the agenda. Pulling myself away from the ease of just hanging in this always entertaining town might be difficult.

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