February 22, 2006

To the Central Highlands

Playas Novillerno
Guadalajara Plaza and Cathederal
Fountains of Guadalajara
Guanajuato Street
San Miguel, Our Hotel Courtyard
Playful Sunday in San Miguel
A Busy Central Plaza
Sleeping Beauty at the Market

We did not drive all that far south from Mazatlán, maybe three hours. We slowly worked our way away from the coast, and we wanted to spend one more night there. So we turned west and drove about 25 miles. We stopped at Playas Novillero, a little beach town with only a couple of worn hotels. We found one that was suitable and checked in. There is absolutely nothing to do in this town except drink beer and look at the surf and wade a bit in the warm waters.. And that is exactly what we did until nightfall. An old lady was serving fish dinners down the block and so we ate. With no TV in our room we watched a DVD on the computer.

Wednesday, the 15th, we drove from here to Guadalajara, Mexico's second city. It has beautiful historic city center that stretches for a dozen blocks. We arrived in the late afternoon, found a low grade but reasonable hotel in the city center. We walked to a central square by the cathedral. Here on a bandstand were more than a dozen Mariachis performing a wonderful concert. We stayed until it ended then walked hundred meters to another square were some more modern Latin music was on. We only stayed for a short while. The night out was great.
The next day, I spent some time getting my brakes checked. Then we began to explore the historic museums, governmental and church buildings of the center. It is a beautiful city.

On Friday we drove to Guanajuato. The town was as lovely as I remembered and one of my favorite in the central highlands. We checked into a hotel. We walked to the Jardin de la Union, a wonderful place to meet a friend, have a drink, eat diner. All of which we did. There are always dozens of musicians hanging out in this park, hoping that you will hire them to sing and usually someone does. We were lucky that the table next to us hired a Mariachi band of at least seven musicians to sing and sing and sing. Now the normal price in ten dollars a song, but I am sure the hour plus concert was less for the people at that table. The music was great and we enjoyed what was a free performance for us. After a great dinner we slipped back to our room, but not before really enjoying the joyful, vibrant Friday night in a Mexican town. The thing about this town and so many others is that they are so alive with people: meeting, talking, dancing, kissing, playing, and shopping. There really is nothing like it in North America and much of Europe.
Saturday we continued to explore the city. We visited the Diego Rivera museum. It is in a home where his family lived for a few years when he was a young child. We passed through several small plazas and rambled down very narrow winding cobblestone streets. We stopped at the Mueso Iconográfico del Quijote. This is a museum dedicated to art works depicting Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Almost all the pieces are from the 20th century and most were very enjoyable. At 2:00 we had arranged to meet Charlie Montemayor. He is a Midwest retiree who has written a book about his move to and life in Guanajuato where he moved some ten years ago. We talked for several hours in a lovely outdoor café.

One of the Pools at La Gruta

Sunday we traveled to San Miguel de Allende, where we have been ever since. San Miguel is a very comfortable little town. Many Americans live here. Luckily they have not changed the wonderful essence of this town. Like Guanajuato, there is a vibrancy that is evident everyday as people go about their business and enjoy their lives. The Americans have done some nice things for the community, too. The best, in my opinion, is the public library. It is in a very old building with a large courtyard. While it is a stop for most of the tourist groups, mainly it is a place where Mexicans and Americans can retrieve books, log onto a wireless network, use a library computer, or do your home work. Language classes and tutoring is available for Mexican kids. All of this, we saw being done and more. The library was different from US libraries in that it has a gift shop and a small restaurant. Many hours we spent there soaking up the atmosphere and working on-line. It is a fairly slow paced city in some ways. But from what we can see there is a lot to do: lectures, plays, movies, art classes, tours and social events. They say that it is a very expensive place to live in Mexico, but it has not been so expensive to visit. Our accommodations have been $30 USD per night and food has been quite reasonable too.
We discovered that despite the dry, brown landscape the highlands do green up in the summer. We were told that they actually get more the 20 inches of rain annually. I need green and I never thought that I could live in the highlands because it was a desert. Maybe I was wrong about the highlands.
Yesterday, we visited a large market that is only open on Tuesdays. They sell everything there from fresh foods to clothing to tools to the kitchen sink. There were dozens of make-shift restaurants too. In the afternoon we drove about five miles north of town to an area where there are several hot springs and spas. We visited the best known of these La Gruta to enjoy a couple of hours in the waters.

Today we are off to Morelia.

Posted by bill at February 22, 2006 09:59 AM

Nice to see you guys back in Latin America. It must be nice to see green trees again. I take it that it is warm there. I really love the beach down in Mexico. Have fun!


Posted by: Brad at February 22, 2006 07:23 PM