We picked up a few more bikes from Japan (Saburro on a BMW 1200GS and Sato on a Suzuki DR650), and a spare passenger, Cara, on our way to Guanajuato.
We kitted Cara up as much as we could – spare gloves, glasses, jackets and hats, as it’s cold in the morning on a bike. She loved the ride, except for the raccoon-face she had afterwards from the sun and the wind. Luckily, the ride was smooth and fast, with the only holdup being the most thorough police checkpoint I’ve had in Mexico so far. They pulled us all over and wanted to see our registration documents. Then, they radioed our VIN numbers to check on the bikes. After hearing something that settled their nerves, they let us leave with no other questions. I was nervous about this stop, since we were traveling with 4 bikes and 5 people, and while I know how I like to handle police interaction (act like a dumb American and speak only English), I was hoping that the rest of the group would be cool. Luckily, Brian, Saburro, and Sato don’t speak Spanish, and Cara was smart enough to stay quiet
When I saw Brian ask for this photo, I was just hoping the police officer wouldn’t freak out. She didn’t, and I was jealous I didn’t get a photo with her and her gun.
Arriving in Guanjuato, we promptly got lost, supposedly .01mi away from the location of our hostel. 3 GPS units and a Spanish speaker (Cara), and we still couldn’t figure out where we were going. Even worse, we got separated. At least we all had the name of the hostel. The streets wind through the city with no apparent system, going through old canals converted to underground tunnels, and most of the roads are one way. Basically, it’s hell on a motorcycle when you don’t know the town.
After 4 loops of the city, Brian and I ended up hiring a taki to drive us to the hostel, and one of the hostel employees volunteered to lead us to secure parking on the other side of town.
Arturo could wind through traffic easily on his 75cc scooter, but Brian and Sato couldn’t split the traffic at all while fully loaded.
Guanajuato was in the middle of a month-long festival, Cervantino, which is one of the biggest and most popular festivals in Mexico. It’s an art festival, with live performances from bands and other performance groups from around the world.
One of the evening performances was a music/Circ-de-Soleil type group. They played music while spinning in the air, and gymnasts performed stunts a hundred feet in the air. Here’s some great pictures from Eric and his beautiful DSLR. He has lots more over on his post about Guanajuato.
Saburro appreciating the view from Pipila, a statue at the top of the city.
Pipila himself. The story is that he was able to set fire to the wooden doors of the Spanish fort in Guanjuato by putting a huge rock on his back, which blocked the shots from the enemy. This allowed the Mexicans to storm the fort and defeat the Spanish.
Classic Mexican cinema was shown regularly outside the University on the steps.
I had heard of one museum in Guanajuato that sounded very interesting, Museo de Momias, or the Mummy Museum. The bodies come from a graveyard in Guanjuato, where the soil preserved the bodies instead of breaking them down.
Mirror mirror on the wall
The newest adventure rider, Cara, was thoroughly creeped out by this baby. Ok, I was too.
Brian, Saburro, and Sato decided to take off for Mexico City, while I wanted to stay longer in Guanjuato. However, I needed to find cheaper housing, as the hostel we had was doubling the prices over the weekend for Cervantino. Eric and Sabrina had come into town and were staying in another hostel, Estacion Esperanza. It was a definite “hippy hostel”, and much cheaper. There were people sleeping on the floors until noon, and they let me camp on their roof for 100 pesos a night.
Camping on the roof of the hostel.
Eric and I met a couple of Americans living in Guanjuato, Robert and Mike. After spending the evening at my new favorite cantina, Famous Bar Incendio, Mike suggested that I check out the new property that he and his wife, Sam, had just purchased.
Cantina Incendio. Homemade fruit infused Mezcal was the drink of choice. Mike, Robert, and Eric in the background.
Mike offered to let me camp on his property for free, which I graciously accepted after seeing the view.
My campsite for the rest of the week.
Mike and Sam’s neighbor, who I camped 20 feet from, raised fighting cocks. I learned to sleep through their 5:30am awakenings.
My view every evening.
Paco and Celda. Celda worked at the Hostel and was letting people camp in her yard. She had lots of barbeques and parties and invited us all to join.
Ruthanne, from Tennessee, and I talking and drinking caguama’s (40oz beers) during a BBQ.
One night, Celda’s dog ate a special cookie and was going insane. So, of course, people start to mess with the dog. He started attacking the wall after this wonderful impression of a dog.
Speaking of dogs, here is a typical site in Guanajuato – roof dogs. Since people don’t really have yards, and they don’t like to keep a dog inside, they head to the roof. At night, the dogs will communicate with each other and try to protect it’s property from up there.
Full moon rising over the hills.
The easiest way to get cement up the winding narrow alleyways in Guanjuato. Mike and Sam have been doing heavy construction on their property, building giant walls for terracing. I couldn’t believe the amount of labor that goes into building the walls. The workers would manually carry 3 bricks at a time up the narrow alleyway to their house, as nothing else would fit. It’s a completely different world than construction in the US, where efficiency is key.
After spending a week in Guanajuato, I’m headed to the most traditional location in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos, Patzcuaro. Sam introduced me to her friend, Mayra, who was born and lives in Patzcuaro, and she offered to show me the sites and live with her family for the next 2 days. Stay tuned.