May 11, 2014 by kimberlyfenton
After an interesting start to our first trip away from the Yucatan Peninsula, with Rosie’s slight hiccup of booking onto the a flight two weeks ago, we both arrived separately in Mexico D.F. ready to board our first Primera Plus bus up to Salamanca to visit the hometown of our friend Monica. We were welcomed on board our luxury bus with a refresco in one hand and a bag of snacks in the other… perfect! The buses reminded me of the buses/trains I had been on for 16/24 hours in South America as the seats were so comfy, wide and fully reclinable with not just a foot rest, but a leg rest, to complete the bed formation. Just before leaving the bus station we walked past wanted posters with mug shots of people who had been sat on buses… which doesn’t exactly make you feel safe before heading through the airport-esque security together with the dogs. The mug shots all made sense once we had settled down in our thrones, as a security guard walked down the aisle shoving a video camera in everyone’s face for a few seconds. No worries.
Salamanca. So good to see Monica again in her hometown which, like everyone had warned us, was freezing! A big change from our bikinis of Cancun.
Valle de Santiago. “Alberca” in Mexico is their word for a “piscina,” in Spanish and a ‘swimming pool’ in English. We visited La Alberca in Valle, however this is not a swimming pool, it is in fact an inactive volcanic crater. This was an amazing sight, and you could see on the other side of the crater the line which indicates the level of water it used to hold. Overtime, this has disappeared and the talk of the town is that it is due to suspicious UFO activitives. You can make your own mind up on that one… but it was a pretty impressive sight to see, with cacti surrounding us for the first time!
We then visited the Rincon de Parangueo, which involved walking through a long, dark tunnel to reach another volcanic crater. The view was even better, pure white. Natural beauty at its best.
Guanajuato. We took another Primera Plus bus to Guanajuato, around 1 hour, and we arrived in the evening pretty tired and cold, so we decided to take it easy in a bar. Live rock band. Husband and wife duo and they were insane! So good to hear Mexican rock too, and enjoy it. 2 beers each turned into another round, and then another, and we had such a funny night. The boss of the place became chummy with us giving us shots and salsa sessions as I took control over the DJ system (iTunes on his computer.) I could no longer contain it and I was on the platform opposite the stage singing my heart out, joined by Rosie of course to sing our Spanish/English translation favourite, Eres Guapa (James Blunt- You’re Beautiful.) The crowd, and the band we were upstaging, were clearly loving it pointing/singing back to us, with feint chants of “otra! otra!” So much fun. After such a good night, we then continued the night at El Capitolio one of the two big antros (clubs) in Guanajuato, buying an unnecessary bottle of Rum for the 3 of us. Good times.
Guanajuato is a beautiful city with so much culture and we booked onto a little mini van tour of the city and ate some breakfast while we waited for that to begin.
La Casa de Tia Aula, a haunted house type tour.
Hacienda del Cochero, another tour around torture chambers.
Dulceria, where the staff awkwardly followed you around and made you try things.
Museo de Las Momias, 100s of mummies on display including the first mummy to be discovered and the smallest mummy in the world.
Mina el Nopal, not the most interesting mine tour, highlighted when he asked if any of us spoke Spanish or were we that bored…
Finally, the Monumento al Pipila, which is a mirador of the entire city and it is such an incredible view. So beautiful to see all of the colourful houses, streets, museums and churches from above.
Guanjuato is a city in which traffic flows through either the scenic mountains or underground in the tunnels below. The Unesco World Heritage City is bursting with colonial buildings, brightly coloured houses lining the steep streets with pastel colours in accordance with the city’s law so as not to ruin the city’s aesthetics and cute little plazas full of trees and people.
During the night we joined in with one of the student minstrel groups in traditional clothing which, together with guitars and banjos, captures the attention of every tourist. Upon arrival at the church steps we were all given a cute little frog to drink from so we had been advised to buy some wine for the journey. Guanajuato means the land of frogs and so it is a nice little memento from which they showed us how to drink in a special way.
The pipers of Guanajuato then led us through the callejones (narrow streets) whilst stopping frequently to serenade and entertain us with jokes and dances. The last stop on this waling tour was at the Callejón del Beso, the Alley of the Kiss. This is the narrowest alley of Guanajuato and if you are to believe the local legend, a couple were forbidden to see each other but arranged to meet at these two houses to kiss each other from the balconies. Like all good stories, their forbidden love was discovered and the couple suffered tragic deaths. However, now, to all the non-romantic people like me out there, the alley serves to be one of the most awkward place to come on a date… as legend has it that if you are to kiss on the third step you will avoid 7 years of bad luck and will get married. It is hilarious to just watch the couples come down the steps to the bottom of the alley, and suffer from the awkward couple of seconds on the third step as the look of horror on every man’s face becomes clear as he looks to his eager eyed partner… “oh, is she gonna kiss me? should I kiss her?”
Overall, it was great to see a different side to Mexico in the beautiful city of Guanajuto.