Honeymooners shared our late night bus to Guanajuato, en route to a newlywed’s
Valentine’s day. It’s easy to see why lovers seek the caresses of this city: with it’s own Romeo and Juliet legend at the Calle de Beso, postcard perfect plazas, a bounty of
balconied cafes and cantinas and quaint lodgings, Guanajuato calls for couples. They take Valentine’s day seriously here… Tuesday the streets were lined with lovers, flowers, balloons and gifts, and the Jardin de la Union was packed with dueling mariachis serenading couples on the plaza; at the foot of the Plaza next to the magnificent Teatro Juarez student musicians clad Quixotic robes strum guitars, serenade bystanders and recite local
tales in a “callejoneada”, or walking serenade. Sue and I enjoyed a quiet dinner at Los Campos while the boys gorged on pizza and NBA Live Mobile at the apartment. Guanajuato es muy tranquillo.
It’s good to be back into a school rhythm. Each day we boys stop by a favorite street baker and pick up a pastry on our short walk to Escuela Falcon, our colorful and well regarded Spanish language school. I have Mexican music and conversation classes while the boys take separate conversation and vocabulary classes, then we share a Mexican cooking class which provides for our lunch before afternoon classes in grammar and walking culture class. The teachers take it pretty easy on the boys – that’s OK as we have time and want a positive learning experience.
Sue’s spanish is superior, so she’s playing hookie and filling free mornings with photography walks and writing. Sue does join us for extra-curricular activities after school: we’ve taken a walking tour and chocolate class; the mummy museum, more monuments and salsa classes are in our future. Most of the maestros are students at the esteemed University of Guanajuato – this is a university town, with all the benefits of education, culture and youthful energy. Touring with a spanish tutor is a great alternative to a typical guide.
And Guanajuato makes it all so pleasant. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city’s center is a culture of cobblestoned callejones and cafes, theaters, iglesias, plazas, markets and monuments, bestrode by baroque buildings and their pillared neoclassical grandchildren. Drivers favor the flow of subterranean riverbed roads, leaving the entire city center a pedestrian zone, free from the curses of car horns and fumes.
This is Mexico’s Bajio (heartland), and it showcases the best of an embattled state. Blessed with pre-colonial and spanish history, it’s also the birthplace of the war of Mexican Independence, and is the site of the first major victory over the Spanish in 1810. Guanajuato is rich – its silver mines once produced ⅔ of the world’s output. At 6,600’ it enjoys a dry, temperate climate. And it was the childhood home of my favorite painter, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Guapo Guanajuato is a proud place, deservedly so.