Guanajato has loads to offer and we have decided to stay a few more days than we had originally planned. The city centre is teeming with life and it has a gritty feel to it. It is more of a “real city”. Most things are not sanitized here at all. I loved San Miguel but this city is a whole different game. The biggest difference between here and San Miguel is the shear amount of young people. In San Miguel, in the historical centre, the old expats were a predominant force. San Miguel’s population demographic, especially in the city centre, is the direct opposite to here. Here the young people rule.
I guess it is the university and colleges in the city centre. And also, perhaps, the fact that this city is much bigger and there is just a lot more regular Mexican life happening here.
This morning we were served breakfast at our hotel. Fresh fruit – pineapple, papaya, watermelon, cantelope, honeydew melon, and bananas were abundant. And yogurt and toast too. After breakfast I went out to wander around and ended up near the Mercado Hildalgo.
There were big trucks pulling in and unloading vegetables and fruits. Vendors were opening up their stalls of plastic trinkets, purses, electronics, etc. The breakfast stalls were doing a brisk business. On the streets surrounding the market vendors were cutting fruit, making tortillas and salsa, and setting up breakfast taco stands. Even the churro woman was filling up oil into her vats for churro production. I stopped at a store to buy some necessities….a toothbrush and q-tips.
After this I wandered further and came upon the Casa Diego Rivera Museum. It is the house he was born in and lived for the first six years of his life. The main floor was set up to replicate how it would look during his childhood.
The next three floors were pictures (sketches, oils, watercolours) from various time periods. (I was not allowed to take any pictures of the art.) There was also work of other Mexican artists during his time period.
After lunch we followed our noses which led us to the Museum under the Templo San Diego (350 years old) where excavations in the 1990s uncovered part of the original church 7 metres below the city’s current elevation. It also had mummies that had been exhumed during a period starting in the mid 1800s until the 1950s when the government levied a tax on the decendants of those buried in the cemeteries and if the families did not pay, the bodies were dug up. Because of the dry soil many of the bodies were perfectly mummified. Entrepreneurial cemetery personal started charging money to see these mummies and this is how this dark tourist attraction started. I won’t cast any stones, as I went to see these mummies myself, but was somewhat disturbed by the lack of respect shown the dead.
In the evening Rudy and I went out to wander the streets again and I took him down to the market area. We ate at street vendors and also sat for a long time at a little restaurant. What a great way to spend a couple of hours: talking and people watching. The vibe here is sometimes unsettling but moving out of a comfort zone always provides food for thought.