I didn’t even hear about this city before Guillo invited us to come visit. He studies arts in the school there and apparently this is some kind of college town in the mountains full of young people. He gave me a note with his address, contact info and highlighted “FUNKY TOWN” that I will remember what he was talking about. I didn’t have any particular plans and Checo seemed very interested, he even read later that it’s one of the highlights in Mexico, so we decided to make a small loop to the north after we’ll finish volunteering at the farm.
A week after the conversation I emailed Guillo and said we are coming. Our way was again through Guadalajara but this time we went there with Leonardo and two new wwoofers from Minnesota, Danny and Joe. The reason they went there was a big agricultural expo that took place that weekend only and Leonardo wanted to buy a few turkeys for his farm. Well, he didn’t buy them because there were no birds because of some plague in the area, but he did buy a few bunnies. Still don’t know why, because it’s hard to believe that he will ever decide to use them for meat or fur, they are just too cute. The best part was a goodbye dinner that Leo cooked – it was delicious. Diego, Hans and few other friends joined it and we had a great night chatting and playing cards. It was sad to leave. Again.
On the next day after visiting the expo and having lunch we said the last goodbyes and left. Checo on the bus, me on the bike, and I was sure that I will come much earlier then him but I ended up sleeping on the side of the road. I took toll road to make it faster but apparently they forgot to build gas stations along the road between Guadalajara and Leon, which I didn’t expect and wasn’t prepared. It was getting dark and started to rain, highway assistance didn’t seem to come so I just decided to sleep and hope for the best in the morning. And it was much better – people stopped and gave me some gas to make it to the gas station.
When I finally got to Guanajuato I expected to see another Mexican city that I already used to see, but I was pleasantly surprised. The city is located on the hills and the streets just followed the topography without any straight lines. Every house was different size and painted in some bright color. Here and there I could see some taller building popped up – a church, market or the university. Everything looked very beautiful and I enjoyed the view. Then I suddenly realized that I still need to find the house of Guillo and it seemed like an impossible thing to do with complicated system of one way narrow streets that you never know what direction they are going to turn behind the corner and almost equal in size and even more complicated system of underground tunnels that lied under the city. People on the street weren’t very helpful, as always they pointed in some direction and said “todo derecho” (all the way straight). That could make some sense in any other city but not here. I don’t know how they even thought to use word “derecho” for this situation. But eventually I found it with the help of the signs, taxi drivers and just luck. His house was on the hill but I still tried my luck and KLR proved itself again easily climbing the steep pedestrian street with some stairs on the way.
Then it started. During the day Checo and I explored the city, learning to navigate this crazy maze of streets full of people, mostly students. Many of the streets were closed to traffic so restaurants and coffee shops put their tables outside offering nice seats in a shade for walking by people. Other streets were turned to markets where you can buy any possible Mexican souvenir including many local crafts, food and sweets. Day of the Dead was very soon so you could buy anything in a skull form – key holders, soap, candy, mugs, etc.
Big percentage of the city population are students because of the big university located there. Many of them earning some money by walking the streets dressed as medieval troubadours playing music or creating small plays right there on the streets. This tradition made city famous and they even hold annual Cervantes festival that actually just ended. What is the connection between this city with it’s mining past and student-touristic present and Cervantes I failed to understand but anyway it’s a beautiful tradition that brings a lot of culture to the locals.
The city was beautiful everywhere – in the bottom of the valley where most of the traffic and markets concentrated or on the top of hill where it was much more quiet and you can see the entire city covering the hills like a quilt. We ended our first day sitting in some bar, drinking beer and enjoying the light of the lowering sun reflecting on the colorful building and giving them a slightly different shade. But it was only the beginning.
When we back to the Guillo’s apartment he already finished painting and left us a note to me him at some bar. It was easy to find and after a short look at his friends and their big smiles and happy eyes I realized that we are going to have a very fun night. And it was a blast! I didn’t enjoy bar hoping for a long time. The first bar called F.B.I and I already forgot what I the full name, but it’s one of the oldest bars in the town from those times that only miners were drinking and women sitting at home, so the bar stand it was also a urinal to make drunken life much easier – you didn’t need to go anyway and could pee and drink at the same time. Brilliant! Another one was mescal and pizza place, were you can get a small ceramic shot of mescal for only 10 pesos. Mescal is a brother of tequila. The process of it’s production is much more simple then tequila and usually is done on a small family distilleries. It’s also a favorite drink of Mexican hipsters. The last one was a reggae bar where was much more relaxing atmosphere.
On the next day we had more time to explore the city and visited super creepy museum of mummies. We bought some groceries and cooked delicious dinner with Guillo and his friends that we met last night, 3 Basque girls that came to study here. While eating we listened to different ethnic music from our cultures, it was amazing. After the dinner I borrowed dress from one of the girls and decided that it’s enough to be my Halloween costume. A super epic night was affront of us.