Guanajuato & San Miguel Allende

We arrived in Guanajuato just in time for the Cervantino Festival. This festival of theater, arts, and astronomy is named for the Spanish author of Don Quixote. It is Guanajuato's largest festival, and perhaps the largest festival of theater in all of Mexico. The town literally packs to the rafters, and we were fortunate to get a rooftop garret for one day. Couple this with the fact that almost all of the main arteries in Guanajuato are subterranean, and the few main thoroughfares that traverse the city above ground are one-way, and you are faced with a traffic nightmare. The tunnels that honeycomb the lower reaches of the city were created to divert water following devastating floods in the latter half of the 18th century. These floods had nearly wiped out the town's center. In the 1960s, work was begun on a dam to relieve the flooding, and the tunnels became the underground streets and callejones that they are now. Guanajuato definitely requires considerably more than the one day we were able to spend there, but the Cervantino festival draws people from all over the world, and there was simply not a room to be had any where in the whole town.




Adding to the traffic situation is the fact that the main   one-way street that runs adjacent to the central plaza at left above becomes a de-facto pedestrian mall for most of the evening hours.


The relatively small colonial center is actually home to a number of elegant theaters. Perhaps the most dazzling of these is Teatro Juarez which is impressive by day but simply sparkles by night.



Mexico's famous Dia de los Muertos was also rapidly approaching, and by evening all of the town's small plazuelas were dotted with candy stands, which in addition to the traditonal sugar calaveras (skulls), were also selling candy jack-o-lanterns and Sponge Bobs. Mexicans kids have embraced Halloween in addition to their two day Day of the Dead and Todo Santos on November first and second, complete with a three day equivalent of trick-or-treating. Meanwhile by day, as the evening's revelers rested, many signs remained of the town's mining heritage such as this mining cart cum flower box above right.

zocalo
Fortunately, San Miguel Allende is only about an hours ride from Guanajuato, and rooms were a little more readily available there. San Miguel's manicured square was equally inundated with Dia de los Muertes activities. San Miguel has long been a favorite with gringos, and in particular gringa tourists, and it was not uncommon to encounter groups of 5 to 10 "women of a certain age" that were traveling together.
legume art

Is this a comment on the transitory nature of art, or on its permanence? The images above and below are centuries old and constructed completely from different types of beans, lentils, and rice. There were several teams that were working by hand all around the square.

p in san miguel





We were able to find a room just a little off the square in a former convent (left). Best of all, unlike Guanajuato, we were able to park the bikes off the street. As you can see above the parking in San Miguel's narrow streets could be a problem.



Beauty can be found at every turn in San Miguel. The photo at right is a close-up detail of the doorknob on the door at left.
    
San Miguel's real beauty dazzles at night.