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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Beyond the Beach: Seven Days in Central Mexico - Page 2

Written by Kristen Hamill
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San Miguel 2Driving is next to impossible in San Miguel’s narrow alleys, so as soon as we booked a room in a local posada, or inn, we ditched the car and headed off on foot.  After having a dinner of tortilla soup, enchiladas suizas (enchiladas in red sauce) and Negra Modelo micheladas (beer mixed with a shot of tomato juice, lime, and chili) we wandered around the El Jardín, the main square, and into the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the stunning, pink granite parish that is iconic to the town. While there is a nightlife to speak of in San Miguel, our plans for taking some banderitas, (shots of tequila, lime juice, and tomato juice – green, white, and red just like the Mexican flag) were cut short by torrential downpours.

Leaving San Miguel the next morning armed with a bag of super sweet Mexican candies, we headed on to Guanajuato, the last stop on our trip.  Guanajuato is the capital city of the state that bears the same name and it is where much of the Mexican Revolution was fought.

PipilaAlhondiga2The bloodiest battle took place at the stone granary called the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, where Spanish soldiers led by Miguel Hidalgo had taken refuge. A young Mexican miner named Juan Martínez, also known as El Pípila, set fire to the doors, allowing the Mexicans inside to slaughter the Spaniards. Today the Alhóndiga is a museum and features murals and other artwork.  There is a statue of Pípila, a tribute to the Mexican rebel, atop a hill at the edge of the city. For a few pesos you can ride a funicular railway to the top for a fantastic view of the city.









One of the best things you can do in Guanajuato at night is see the estudiantinas – strolling minstrel groups that tour the city’s cobblestone streets while playing music and telling jokes and stories about the city.  The estudiantinas gather outside El Jardín Union on weekend nights.  The tours are given entirely in Spanish, but you don’t need to be fluent to follow along.

EstudiantinasThe most memorable stop on the route is the Callejón de Besos, the alley of kisses.  Before making your way down callejón, the musicians share the legend of two young lovers that lived on either side of the alleyway, forbidden to see each other. The couple met a tragic end when the girl’s disapproving father caught them sneaking out to meet one night. As the legend goes, when you pass through the alley, couples must kiss on every third step to avoid a lifetime of bad luck in love.

After our few days of touring the central colonial towns, it was back to Mexico City for a night and then home to the U.S.  So if Mexico is on your travel radar, try to look beyond the lure of all-inclusive beach vacations – and the headlines.

©Kristen Hamill

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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