DISCLAIMER-This post has been made windy like the city of Guanajuato. Please navigate with delight.
While traveling I haven’t only come to know Mexico. I’ve also come to know many people from other countries. Danes, Spanish, French, Tasmanian, and Australian. Not to mention all of the other nationalities from the people I taught with. The hostel in Guanajuato was no different. I bunked with an Italian and in a nearby room were Germans, and French and Icelandic in another. So cool. Plus, English is the international language. How perfect! To my surprise, I found that my Spanish wasn’t the worst. It felt good to be a tongueful traveler.
Efrem, a young guy who had already backpacked through the States, told me that he wasn’t too fond of Mexican food. I was dumbfounded. Until he told me he was from Tuscany. The Icelandic girls taught me how to swear in their language, but unfortunately I didn’t write it down and forgot it. The French girl had a visiting brother (why none of my family came to visit me I will never understand…) and lived in Guadalajara too. The Germans came here to work, ended up volunteering and just generally wandering through Mexico without a timetable, without a destination. Since I had rediscovered the traveling bug, I wished I was doing that. Time can either enhance your trip or limit it. If you remember it, it destroys your trip, because you rush through all of the loveliness around you. Even though I was on a time-limit I decided to let limits be damned and spend an extra day in Guanajuato.
I was given a map with all of the tourist attractions and promptly put it in my pocket. I would use it only as a lifejacket. Day One was to head west. Day Two I would head east. I would use the flow of people and inspiration as my compass. Armed only with a camera, pen and notebook, and a fistful of pesos I would stave off any obstacles and hunger. I headed out and immediately came across six of the destinations on the map.
Grand churches of epic design and craftsmanship. Theatres with two faces to show drama and tragedy. Beautiful parks that were bright and green from the rain. People roamed freely in the streets, occasionally vacating for a car on the smaller streets and directing the flow of traffic on the larger ones. Guanajuato is a pedestrian’s paradise. Very little to worry about and very much to explore. The best part of the day came when I happened upon Diego Rivera’s house. I didn’t go inside but found something exciting in the form of a small staircased alley right next to it. I walked up and found homes
and small plazas. I felt like I was walking through people’s backyards. A man came down and smiled at me like he knew what I was experiencing. This sense of not knowing where I am, but seeing an order, a fanciful one, that can hide you from the outside world, but bring you closer to your neighbors. And then it all opened up. I came upon a slightly larger plaza next to a collapsed house.
The only standing wall and door of the home was covered in beautiful graffiti. Political, humorous, inspirational. All spectrums of the graffiti wheel. Cohesive and inspiring. An old man came singing loudly down some steps. “Nuh, nuh, nu-nu-nuuuuuh, BARK!” When he saw me stopped and tilted his head and let out a small bark. I couldn’t tell if he was homeless or simply senile. He wore a blue hooded sweatshirt over a white shirt splotched with red stains. His salt-and-pepper hair streaked out from under the hood in a very fashionable way, and his matching white beard was trimmed into a wily point. His eyes were black with a thin, vibrant blue outline. He talked to me in blunted Spanish, unable to pronounce “ke”s.
Probably because of the two large and petrified yellow blocks on his bottom jaw that looked more like fingers than teeth. He tried to tell me where I should visit or where he lived. I got a bit of it, but not much. “Entienes? he would ask and then bark softly at me. After getting no response he just simply pointed.
I continued wandering and came upon landmark after landmark. I even stumbled into a friend from the hostel while I walked. I saw as much of the city as I could and explored as many creases. I drank beer on a cafe whose patio arches over a street and connects with an alley on the other side. Some things I photographed, others I just gawped at. Guanajuato is a city without dead-ends. And while it is easy to be lost, you always know where you’re going.