When I booked two days in Guanajuato as an add-on to a Mexico trip I did with A Closer Look Tours at the end of January, I was excited to finally get to explore one of central Mexico’s colonial cities. I’d seen the compelling photos, read the glowing reviews and even sung its praises on the pages of Courier.
I had high expectations, but ... wow. From its friendly locals and always-buzzing street life to its brightly painted houses dotting the hills overlooking the city center, Guanajuato delighted in so many ways.
The majority of my first day consisted of two things: having no real idea where I was going and loving every minute of it. As I walked along the serpentine pathways, I discovered a seemingly endless series of colorful buildings, ornate churches and bustling markets. Every new turn revealed another gem.
My roaming on the second day was punctuated by many stops for street cuisine. I started with a fresh-squeezed guava and watermelon shake, which paired better than you’d expect with my flaky apple pastry. Other finds included cheese quesadillas with a kicky verde sauce, roasted sunflower seeds, a spicy ear of corn and a chocolate-infused churro; clearly it was a good thing I walked 15-20 miles during my stay.
One of the most enduring memories came after a late-night meal on Jardin Union. During dinner on the large plaza, I had noticed a mixture of mariachis and costumed minstrels (think Elizabethan England) milling about, some strumming their instruments, others checking their cell phones.
As I was paying the bill, I could hear music and cheering in the distance. I followed the sounds and joined a group or 25 or so that had gathered around a fun-loving band of the minstrels. Their songs and banter had everyone laughing and clapping along, and they closed by marching out of the square.
As our pack followed them up a narrow alleyway, I was struck by how that moment pretty perfectly encapsulated the joyous feeling and carefree spirit I’d enjoyed throughout my all-too-brief time in Guanajuato.
Photos by Pat Henderson