I arrived in Guanajuato yesterday, and am as enthralled with this town as I was with San Miguel. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guanajuato is the capital of the state of the same name. Founded in 1559, it is a former silver mining city and home to the La Valenciana mine.
The historic center of Guanajuato has a distinct European flavor with hundreds of narrow cobblestone callejones (alleyways) running up and down the hillside. Shady plazas are dotted with sidewalk cafés, museums, theaters, markets and historic monuments. The buildings throughout the city are fine examples of neoclassical- and baroque-style colonial architecture. An underground network of tunnels runs beneath the city helping to control the flow of traffic.
Later that evening, I was so excited to return to my hotel (located next to the Jardin, right in the center of the city), and find that there were people dancing salsa and bachata right out in front. I could have stood there for hours just watching these dancers, so enchanting they were.
After exploring the city on foot, I was able to arrange a private walking tour this morning with a professor from the University of Guanajuato. I thought it was a fitting end to my time in Mexico, as I noticed that everyone kept greeting Salvador, my guide, as we wandered through the streets of Guanajuato. Similar to the time I spent with Rafael in San Miguel, I felt like I was with a local celebrity. Salvador was born and raised in Guanajuato, and it seemed that his knowledge was infinite. I had originally booked a two hour tour, but was enjoying my time with him so much that I ended up extending it to three and a half hours.
Among the highlights of my tour was the Teatro Juarez, the Diego Rivera Museum, the Mercado, the Don Quixote Museum, and the Callejon del Beso.
Famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato where his former home has been converted into an excellent museum. I quickly discovered that Salvador used to live in Diego’s former home before it was turned into a museum, and that he has also written a book about Diego Rivera. His knowledge on the topic (and also the information he shared about Frida Kahlo and Diego’s five other wives) was priceless.
The city is also home to a large student population, many of whom attend the Universidad de Guanajuato (Guanajuato University), one of the oldest universities in the state. Located next door to the university is an art museum.
I am so sad to be leaving Mexico tomorrow, but I also know that I will be back soon to explore this beautiful country. The people have made me feel so welcome, and I can’t wait to practice some of the Spanish words and phrases that I have picked up while I’m here. Mexico will always hold a special place in my heart, that is for sure.