At the English-speaking Biblioteca Publica in San Miguel de Allende, I registered for two day trips, one to Guanajuato ($70,) and one to see the Monarch butterflies at rest (6 hours roundtrip travel-$110.) Money extremely well spent. If the fare seems steep, remember it supports children’s programs and scholarships at the Biblioteca.
I had a coffee in the little cafe there. Most ex-pats (those living in or visiting from another country), sit, chat, ponder, people-watch and order another coffee. Ask where to get their prescriptions cheapest. Mexican drugstores require no prescriptions for garden variety of non-narcotics.
The next day, Dali, the Biblioteca’s guide/driver (named for the Spanish artist), arrived at Quinto Loreto at nine en punto. Fond of manana time, I was floored to see him so prompt.
With his exquisite command of slang and colloquial English, he gave six of us the history of each Mexican town, and I didn’t have to drive myself around Mexico!
Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and many other Mexican cities sparkle with brightly-colored homes. They remind me of a basket of Easter eggs strewn precariously from the mountainside.
We visited the childhood home of Diego Rivera, the famed Mexican muralist, whose paintings grace many important Mexican government buildings, especially in Mexico City. Several rooms in the rented home showed the evolution of his talents from Impressionist, to Cubist, to, eventually, his own inimitable style.
We visited the Don Quixote museum AND Gory of Gories, The Museo de Momias–the Mummies Museum. (Sorry, I forgot to take photos.) By some climate-appointed fate, many of those housed in crypts in the mid 1800s became mummies. I won’t go into the details, knowing full well it will be the first stop you make in Guanajuato.
Our guide/driver wisely allotted a certain amount of free time to shop and then rendezvous at an agreed upon landmark. I’ve been on tours where this vacant space/shopping was not allowed and it weighed heavily on my psyche.
In every Mexican city, the church (basilica) presides over the city square. Guanajuato’s parrochia’s vibrant colors set it apart. But I wasn’t prepared for this.
Or the box-trimmed trees in the city parks.
The Guanajuato mercados were superb. I found a bakery filled with Katrina mugs and mannequins. Mexicans realistic attitude toward death, as in the Dia de los Muertos celebrations, embrace Death as a fact of life. We North Americans like to sweep death under the rug with euphemisms such as “So and so passed away.”
In fact there’s dolls, mugs, mannequins, pastries everywhere that spoof our human vanity.
You’ve probably seen murals in Mexican restaurants in the States of a beautifully-dressed female skeleton, (Katrina.) She reminds us that no matter what our station in this life, we’ll all end up a collection of bones.
The next day, three of us traveled with Dali to see the Monarch butterflies in the mountains three hours away. We rode on horseback up to a resting point, from which we walked the rest of the way to view the huge clumps of butterflies. The butterflies shiver constantly to keep themselves warm. The sight was mystical, but did not lend itself to photography. The camera flashes and human chatter disturb the butterflies who are about the serious business of resting up and mating. Then the fly back as far as Texas and Oklahoma, where they lay eggs which hatch and finish the trip to the Canadian Rockies. To begin the cycle again in early November.
How appropriate to end this visit with the butterflies, the eternal symbols of rebirth and regeneration. What joy and hope for the future visiting them brought me!
Mexico, beautiful Mexico. How I love the pace, the friendliness and warmth of the people. If a traveler uses normal discretion and awareness, s/he needs not be overly fearful in seeking life south of the border, permanent or otherwise.