September 30

To remember in future days what it was that I lugged up and down that mountain once or twice every day (it is no longer a hill to me – it is a mountain that looms before me. I thought I was getting better at it but this weekend was worse than the first days!):

1) camera (missing from the photo for obvious reasons), extra battery, extra memory, pcmcia card, cleaning cloth 2) computer, power supply, plug converter, mouse 3) two school text books, large notebook, dictionary 4) map, compass, small notebook, name cards, pencil, pen, comb, keys, sun block, umbrella (not every day), salsa shoes 5) contact information, handkerchief, Kaitlin’s photos, my Birthday Book 6) in the pink trimmed bag-family photos, (unsuccessful) mosquito repellent, breath drops, nail file, toothpicks, tweezers, incense and matches, emergency allergy pill 7) in the black trimmed bag-more allergy pills, money, credit cards, receipts.
She's on my daily route and we 'hola' a lot. The cats live in an empty space behind a gate and she brings them scraps to eat.

Here she is trying to get the cats to look at the camera. And she's always smiling, purring at her babies.
This guy is a cutie too. He's always got his shop set up here at the end of the lane.
I bought one of these and ate it just to see what something this color would taste like. It was half churro and half marshmallow.
I was out for an afternoon stroll with Michi and as would be no surprise to anyone who knows me, she likes to look into stores and I stand around looking for a photo.

This was our favorite store and this is the lobby outside the store leading to something we weren't sure what.
The University! Here's a little intro from their own website: 'The history and academic tradition of the Universidad de Guanajuato date back to the 18 th century, the most prosperous period of Villa de Guanajuato, a mining town which received the title of City in 1741. The University had its beginnings in the Hospice of the Holy Trinity, established on October 1, 1732 in the home of its principal advocate and supporter, Doña Josefa Teresa de Busto y Moya. She, along with 14 wealthy miners contributed financially to create the first school in Guanajuato.'

...but you can click now for the mostly done story of GETTING ACQUAINTED In GUANAJUATO.
The rest of this entire building is under scaffolding with no workers in sight, but wow, it's something for sure.
On my trudge. Across from this is a small neighborhood church that is always hoppin'.
Michi and her home-stay family.
September 31

After four long hours of class I went by bus to the mummy museum and walked back, because if you’re here you’ve just gotta go see the mummies. There are no-photos of course, and I was going to pick some off the internet, but it is something that might very well scare the children. It might scare You! So if you want to see dead people all skin and bones and some even have their clothes preserved but most are weirdly naked with expressions right out of The Scream, ask your favorite browser for images of the Museo de las Momias.

Here’s what LP has to say: ‘…(it) is a quintessential example of Mexico’s obsession with death. Visitors from all over come to see scores of corpses disinterred from the public cemetery.

‘The remains were dug up in 1865, when it was necessary to remove some bodies from the cemetery to make room for more. What the authorities uncovered were not skeletons but flesh (and skeletons) mummified with (really really) grotesque forms and facial expressions. The mineral content of the soil and extremely dry atmosphere had combined to preserve the bodies in this unique way.’

I ate lunch at this place across from the Museo and no where in the world would it be necessary to have a better sandwich than the one I ate here. YUM YUM.
I've also mentioned before how pleasant all the walk-streets are and how crowded all the one-way drive-streets are. Here is the one reason it can work at all - underground drive-streets. You definitely don't want to walk down there without a gas mask.
October 1

The city of Guanajuato grew into it's gorgeous state from the individual wealth of The Rich Guys, from the silver and mineral mines. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and great civic interest goes into preservation and restoration.

Check out the details on these balconies - leaded glass windows, carvings on the frames, and the iron work.
Another view of El Pípila looking between the Teatro Juarez and one of the great churches built on every block.
I’m having a wonderful time but will be moving on anyway at the coming weekend because there is a HUGE festival going on that literally doubles the population and makes everything so painfully crowded.

I’m planning on trying Patzcuaro in Michoacan but have not bought tickets yet or confirmed with the school there. I should have made a decision by tomorrow!
Here's Torsten, director of the school, with Esme my conversation teacher (who does know that smoking is bad for her health...). This bench appeared on our street from where I don't know but it has added to the 'plaza' effect of the street between the school administration building and the classrooms on the other side.
Torsten's dog. She is majorly upset right now. I was carrying food and she really really wanted it and then when it became clear to her that she wasn't going to get it she plopped herself down like this to block my way!

Mostly the dogs just bark bark bark. The noisiest ones seem to be kept behind gates or chained up but still it is such a racket all night long and the care in general is definitely not up to spca standards.

I'm sympathetic to this dog because all day long someone different is telling her what to do. She hangs around the school 'plaza' and people throw things for her to catch, tell her no a lot, call her to come, and yell 'down!'. Under the circumstances I'd say she was pretty well adjusted.
This is the guy who teaches my dance class at 6:00. I asked him if he did any other classes and thought I learned (there's always that chance of misunderstanding in a language you don't know!) that twice a week he does a class at the 'Casa de la Cultura' so I went there. I don't know what I was expecting, but this definitely wasn't it.

Here were a room full of women and one other guy who seemed to be his assistant, keeping 15-20 women at 15-20 different levels of accomplishment all smiling and dancing. It was an amazing feat.

Then he'd have to race up the road maybe 1/2 mile to my class where he would be cheery and in constant motion keeping everyone going. It's Impressive.
These little pocket plazas are everywhere.
See that woman in the sensible dress and the sensible shoes? I was doing my daily trudge and she passed me by with a hearty Hola! and was this far ahead in the minute that it took me to get out my camera. Maybe that could be me if I did this for 5 years?
October 2-3

More from the plaza of La Escuela Mexicana - a teacher, an administrator, and a student. Hola señores.
The dog at mi casa, Niko, who either entirely sleeps through my arrival and movement through the house, or wakes up and barks and barks and Barks until, for no apparent reason, he stops. Hola Niko.
Pepe! Hola Pepe! I haven't figured out his relationship to the family but he stays here during the week, through Thursday, and goes home Friday-Sunday. He was great fun to talk with because he's studying English and he could find words for me and I could find words for him. Also we shared the second floor but it wasn't a problem at all because he left so early.

Kids start school Early. The mama gives them a piece of fruit or a piece of bread and they are off. Then they eat a sack breakfast around 11. At 3 they are back at home for the big meal of the day, and then at 8-9 they eat cena, a last before bedtime meal of cereal and fruit, or quesadilla, or maybe leftovers.
Last night was the big opening of the Cervantino Festival with a fireworks extravaganza which I saw from my patio with all the folks in mi casa. I so cheated on this I know how they get those shots in the newspaper. Maybe I'll work on the composition tonight instead of doing homework.
This is the street of the Diego Rivera Museum and Birthplace. The Museum was Maravilloso. Really amazing since, although there were many original works, they don't have the pieces you know, and it doesn't substitute for a trip to Mexico City, but still they did a fantastic job of biography. You can more clearly understand the times and get a feeling for him and his tumultuous life.
It's interesting to note that Guanajuato, the birthplace of Diego Rivera, among the most renowned artists of Mexico, was rejected by his very conservative hometown for his radical political stance.

Now though, that time has passed and passions faded, they are calling him their own.
Here come some pictures from around town.
These guys and the like are out in force because of the arrival of the Cervantino Festival crowd.

I'm sitting on a park bench trying to eat my entire bag of pastries (pastries are a specialty with shops everywhere) and it seems they are going to stand there singing until I come up with some money. They sang a few verses of Blue Moon until I asked them por favor, en español, and was treated to Besame Mucho, which was at least more entertaining than Blue Moon!
Another lovely plaza.
And more!
October 4-5

This shot is from the the night of the 4th as I was walking home after dance class. Hey! This is on my corner next to my church and on my street! Those who know me can just imagine what I'm thinking now.

Then, that night, when I was happily at home enjoying the veranda, when all the venues for Cervantino were hoppin', including my corner pouring out the amplified 'music', pwwww, the Entire City went dark. It was something to see all right from my perfect vista.

Then the power came back, and the air filled with sound, and then pwwww, dark again. This process occurred another few times. What was surprising to me more than the power failure, considering what was going on around town, was that it always came back so quickly and from what I can tell there has been no ill effects.
It's my last day at school...con muchos abrazos y besos. Adiós to Las Ninas! (We're all pink because the building facing and behind is Pink pink.)
I think it's something like Cervantino is to Cervantes as Shakespearean is to Shakespeare. Cervantino started out as just a week of performances of Cervantes works but it has grown into this international extravaganza with celebrated artists from around the world.

That and incredibly colorful youth out for some performance art, and plenty of plan old Party Hearty.
I decided to try a restaurant that came highly recommended by many of the teachers and students and it was a great thing to do (and not because the food was particularly delicious). For example, here are the chairs!
A new view. Oh goodie!
More. After two weeks I know all these places, I know how to get around in the central city and I can't walk two blocks without running into someone I know.
One of those reflecto shots of which I am so fond. That rooster in the back is the name-sake of the restaurant.
As I was leaving down this very long and very steep multiple sets of stairs I passed by at least five of the restaurant people coming up with bags of provissions. This last guy was my waiter.

At the school they are doing a lot of construction and because we are on a walk street, guys are carrying bags of cement and sand, and all sorts of building supplies on their backs.

Even when my home-stay family was doing the paint job the workers were carrying all the supplies long distances up the mountain.

And still, there are old people who live here, so they must stay mighty darn strong!
October 6

It's my last day in Guanajuato and I've stopped off at the school to check my email. I have to sit outside because it's closed. I had to come here because it's only 10:30 in the morning and the internet cafes have not opened yet.

Then I met up with Michi as we had planned on a farewell stroll through town when...
...Miguel! Here he comes walking down the street towards us, Mr Salsa Himself. Miguel Miguel! Foto Foto!

There's nothing I can do about my goofy expression, squinty eyes and skewey mouth, but this picture's stayin'!
Back home, it's time to do up a last batch of laundry. These are the steps from my room leading up to the roof.
Where we do laundry.
Looking down from the roof into the walk/steps that pass by the front door. Erasmo told me today that he built this whole house with his own hands and with no help not even from the bank.

I really think that's what he said! It seems these houses across the walkway are not nearly as finished as 'our' house.
Adiós Guanajuato! Mucho gusto!!
HomeMexico and the Caribbean • Mexico • '07 Sep: a Second Week in Guanajuato

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