Well, hello weary travellers! I write this post to you from the comfort of my office at home in Pyrmont… where I am desparately trying to remember all that happened in the last 4 days of our Mexican adventure. It’s now all begining to be a slight blur at the corner of my mind, so before it all disappears, let’s give it a go.
Day 16 started in QuerÃ©taro, but finished in a much smaller town called San Miguel de Allende. Now… HERE is a place that you can really relax in if QuerÃ©taro was small in comparison to Mexico DF, then San Miguel was tiny! It’s built on a hill… and is the quintessential Spaish-influenced Mexican village. Cobblestone streets, spanish villas, narrow alley ways, town square… all very traditional – and quite popular with european tourists. We didn’t do much there… basically just relaxed and soaked in the atmosphere. But we did get some great ideas for some spanish-inspired house decorating… stay tuned!
Day 17 we left San Miguel for Guanajuato. About an hour (?) from San Miguel, Guanajuato is the capital of the state Guanajuato, and is another village steeped in Mexican history and is also home to some awesome architecture, a million museums, and Diego Riviera’s childhood home. And we were there for a day…
Suffice it to say we didn’t get enough time to look around the entire place. We did, however get to experience some of it’s highlights, including the towns’ concert hall (stunning in detail and opulent in production), a museum telling the story of Guanajuato’s importance in the move for Mexican Independence (from the Spanish), and a place called Kissing Alley – where apparently a young man and woman lived (on opposite sides of the alley) and who’s hoses were close enough that they could lean out over their balconies and kiss each other. How romantic.
Another interesting thing about Guanajuato is that it is one of the main mining areas of old Mexico, and as such, the town has many old mining tunnels, which have been converted into streets! So now instead of driving around the hills to get to downtown, you simply take a tunnel through the hills!! Very cool – just don’t breath in the fumes whilst driving through…
Day 17, and we headed over to Leon – THE shoe capital of Mexico. And I mean that literally. Leon is in a flatter area of central Mexico, and is a city – bigger than Guanajuato.. it feels like the size of Wollongong I guess… anyway, as we are driving into it, Ailin tells me “This place has got lots of shoes”. I think, OK, a shopping complex that sells shoes…
No. Leon is a CITY that sells shoes!!! Imagine the sydney fish markets, then multiply it by 50, then swap all the fish with shoes, and you begin to get the picture. It is Ailin heaven We stayed there for a good 3 hours… and I didn’t find any shoes I liked!! Well, I found a few, but they either didn’t fit correctly, or weren’t in my size. But boy, were they cheap
If you like leather goods, especially shoes… make a beeline for this city – it’s about 4 hours out of Mexico DF by car, but you could fill a suitcase with stuff if you wanted to. Ailin did!
So, shoes, belts and bags bought, we hopped back in the car and headed for home – Mexico DF. Turns out Leon was about 30km from the dead center of Mexico, I really have to get a better handle on the geography of the place cause in the 17 days we’d been in Mexico we went through no less than 8 states, and swung around from far west to central north, central east, and dead center. It’s a big place (did I mention that?!)
We arrived at the outer limits of Mexico DF after a very scary 3 hour freeway trip. It’s not so much that the other drivers were bad – it was just that the sun was setting, and along much of the freeways there are capital works going on to increase road capactiy, and none of it is very well sign-posted, so at dusk it makes things very hard… especially when the work that is going on is in the fast lane!!!
Anyway, we made it to the outskirts… but then we hit rush hour (at 8:30pm), and we then had another 3 hour wait in a crush of traffic the likes of which I have never seen before in my life. It was just outrageous. Every street, every intersection, blocked.
So busy, that we arrived 1.5 hours late for our Last Supper with Ailin’s family. Was sooo glad to get there in the end. And we eventually got to have a very traditional Mexican christmas dinner, where we played silly games, drank, and ate a dish called Bacalau. It’s fish-based, and Ailin’s uncle, who had only just arrived back in Mexico the day before, put in a huge effort to prepare it for us the previous night, and it didn’t dissapoint!
It was fantastic to catch up with her cousins and uncle and aunty, they are really great people, and very welcoming. Her siblings were there as well, and we were able to say our goodbyes and at last make our way back to Ailin’s friends’ house (Dari y Ceja) where we packed our bags and fell asleep (at 2am) for the last time on this trip. We woke at 4am (yes… 2 hours sleep) and headed off to the airport… and well, I won’t bore you with our next 34 hours… but lets just say we couldn’t have arrived soon enough!
So… that’s Mexico 2006. We enjoyed it, and hope you did too! Mery Christmas and Happy New Year!!