Buzzing, noisy and colorful, October in Guanajuato is a trip!
Guanajuato is a town in the geographical center of Mexico that climbs the sides of a ravine. Houses of every color stand cheek by jowl, lending each other support: cobalt blue, sun flower yellow, brick red and lime green.
The roads are narrow and twisted, snaking around corners, through mountains and out into the hillsides. People squeeze themselves against the walls when taxis hurtle towards them.
At night, in the old town, people take over the streets, dressed in fantastic costumes and wearing masks. Troubadours lead you down the university streets, singing, playing guitars and drinking wine from pourons, jumping up onto the narrow pavements when buses pass by.
Everywhere, a performance - inside the churches and the theaters, outside in the plazas. Movies on t
We duck into a dark bar for a dollar shot of tequila, locally grown, universally enjoyed. Or mezqal, smoother and tasting of berries, passion fruit and honey. A glass each, a sip of each, one more glass before we go.
Walking home up the hill, the moon shining, my calves burning, Mexican music blaring from a distant casa behind high walls. The walls are works of art – hundreds of rocks in intricate designs, balanced perfectly, soaring up sixty feet into the air, hiding the ever barking dogs that guard the courtyards below.
Daylight and the plazas are filling with people. Flower sellers hug the curb and children play the green pianos dotted here and there. Churos from a vendor’s stand, hot and steaming, or cups of fruit pieces dusted with paprika from the nearby cart to eat as you walk, walk, walk.
Into the Café Tal for a shot of chocotardo, rich espresso and pure chocolate from a tiny cup that fills you up. But still, later, falafels from Habibi, too delicious to resist. Watched from across the street by a massive Don Quixote and his side kick in bronze. Bizarre bronze ladies, bronze cats, bronze guitar players on the street corners.
Silver earrings, silver necklaces, this is the land of silver mines. Even now, banditos tunnel into the silver mines at night and steal a seam or two. They’re banking on forgiveness in the massive churches of stone, mosaic and paint, one for each of them.
Up three hundred steps to a hero of the revolution, Papila the miner, who wore a flat rock on his back against Spanish gunfire as he set fire to the door of the granary in Guanajuato where all the Spanish royalists were hiding.
In the shadow of his memorial, views over the town from the highest bar, serving tequilas, cervezas and good cheer. Colorful jackets, colorful bags, hats to keep you shaded. Your name in Japanese characters.
Chips with lime sprinkled over them to crunch as we walk down, down, down, passing small hotels, tiny shops with exquisite artwork and narrow, bright casas with ironwork balconies that almost touch each other across the narrow street.
Can we eat more? Of course we can! We smell aromas from restaurants with crowded kitchens cooking right where we eat, serving sopas, enchiladas, flautas and fajitas. One night a jazz pianist and guitarist entertain us, the next a troupe of mariachis.
The hurricane is coming to Mexico but we are far away and just get the fresh wind and some welcome rain. They don’t stop the festivities of the Cervantino as we sip our wine from the patio of our casita, overlooking the twinkling lights of the town below, listening to the singing, the barking, the bells, the fireworks, the life of Guanajuato.