Guanajuato

  • Goodbye Santa Fe, Hello Guanajuato - We arrive in Guanajuato Mexico on December 30th, 2015. Our Mediterranean adventure expands now to include other regions of the world. This three-month trip to Guanajuato has a new purpose…to study Spanish. I will be studying Spanish every morning at Escuela Mexicana, a language school a 20 minute walk from our house. Our house in Guanajuato is […]
  • Hitting the Books - The first day of school is Monday. Class starts at 8:30 a.m.  I will be taking three Spanish courses every morning Monday to Friday until our departure on March 31. The goal is to speak Spanish at an elemental level. Our first day out in Guanajuato, the day after we arrived, we walked to school and […]
  • A Heavy Load - If your load is heavy, consider carrying butane tanks up flights of stone stairs every day. Because Guanajuato is a configuration of walk streets with little car access, laborers must hand deliver heavy loads to homes and work sites. We saw a man carrying three water bottles (the giant size for water coolers.) One on each […]
  • The Rhyming and the Chiming - We hear bells. We hear bells chiming on mostly the half-hour and the quarter-hour. Often they call people to Mass at the basilica or one of the myriad churches in Guanajuato. I can tell I am on time walking to school as the basilica bell rings just as I pass every day. The bell towers on […]
  • Snack, Size Large - Do you want a big snack? Need the 5 foot size?  This is a whole lot of a local version of “Cheetos.” But you don’t need to buy the whole bag. You can have the amount you want scooped out for immediate on-street consumption. These  also come in different colors like turquoise and bright green.
  • Making Mole - Have you ever made Chicken Mole Poblano? We did. We have always shied away from making mole as we had heard it was a time-consuming and difficult process to do well. It is time-consuming but when you have a team of four and Anita, our experienced instructor, it is an engrossing project. One of the […]
  • The State of Guanajuato -   If you are puzzled by the title of this post, let us explain. Guanajuato is a city within the larger Guanajuato state in the country of Mexico. This photo essay focuses on Guanajuato state outside of the city of Guanajuato. It also seeks to capture a state-of-mind in these visual perceptions of Guanajuato and its people.
  • A Trip to Peralta - We took a day trip to Peralta, a Mesoamerican archeological site near San Jose de Peralta, about 1 and 1/2 hours from Guanajuato. Originally settled about 100 AD by the Chichimecs, part of the Mayan civilization, who had been hunter gathers, the Peralta settlement is characterized by 22 pyramids found in the outlying areas. The most important structure in […]
  • Handwork - In Guanajuato much work is accomplished by hand and on foot. From ringing the church bells at the quarter, half hour and hour to hand delivering bread and grain. This work method is responsible, in part, for the slow pace of life here.
  • A Little Brass Band - We were strolling through the garden in the center of Guanajuato on Sunday and came upon a small brass band setting up to play. Actually we saw the tuba players first…hard to miss. One by one the band members arrived in their dark suits and took their places as people milled about on the plaza. […]
  • Anita’s Gorditas - Gorditas are a kind of Mexican sandwich. But that description does not really capture the wonderful process of cooking and eating one. We gathered in the kitchen of our school with Anita our instructor and gordita chef extraordinaire. Gorditas are somewhat like pita bread. Properly cooked the masa flour tortilla is heated on a very hot, flat tin pan […]
  • Museo Momias - CAUTION: What follows in an article on the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato. The images are of the disinterred dead. Please stop viewing here if you find this subject matter disturbing or you are prohibited from viewing by social or spiritual beliefs. We apologize in advance if anyone is offended by this article. El Museo De Las […]
  • Our Callejon - The callejon, or walk street, leading to our house is Callejon Griteria or “Scream Alley.” We thought you might like to walk the 110 steps past houses, shrines, a barber shop. a corner market and lots of homes to our door. First we will go down the callejon as we do every morning. Then we […]
  • The Elusive Monarch - Do you see the Monarch butterflies in the photo? Look closer. All of what you think are leaves are butterflies with folded wings. They are massed in the pine and oak trees huddling for warmth on a cloudy Saturday in Morales, Mexico. When the sun shines, which it did not do the day we visited, […]
  • San Miguel de Allende - Everyone has heard of San Miguel de Allende. It has been photographed thousands of times. We are taking you on our quirky view of San Miguel garnered on a short trip there last Saturday. There is a ping-pong ball in the mouth of “Grito.” Grito means “cry” in Spanish. These rain spouts extend from the […]
  • A Mexican Market - On our trip to San Miguel de Allende, we went on a search for the other side of this picture postcard town.  We found a Mexican food market on a short street about three blocks from the central plaza.  We visit markets wherever we are as they often embody the colors and smells of the cultures […]
  • Beat, Beat, Beat - When you make chili rellenos, you better have a good arm. The secret to the recipe is egg whites beaten stiff so that they will cling to the chilis before frying. You begin by separating the egg whites and the yolks. Here is a different technique for accomplishing the goal. Carefully pull the narrow end […]
  • The Cry of Dolores - Dolores Hidalgo is the birthplace of the Mexican revolution.  In 1810 Father Hidalgo delivered the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) in the town of Dolores in Guanajuato state. Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung as he called for the end of 300 years of Spanish rule in Mexico. Later Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Jimenez, the […]
  • Trinkets - People who sell trinkets here have an uncanny ability to create beautiful patterns in their displays.  These caught Dana’s eye.      
  • Finding Ranas - Guanajuato has been called “the place of the frogs” (Frogs are ranas in Spanish.) because the shape of mountains surrounding the town was said to look like the outline of a frog. We don’t really see this. But you do see a lot of frogs in Guanajuato. We found these in a local park.
  • Delicious Flutes - Flute in Spanish is flauta, a zesty Mexican dish that you may all have tried. Dana and I got together with Isabel, a nurse from Belgium who is one of my classmates to make flautas for lunch. Isabel began by enthusiastically mashing the potatoes. (Isabel does everything in life with exuberance and enthusiasm. It is great […]
  • Brain Report 1 - Brain Report 1: So Far…So Good As promised, this is the first report on the state of my brain after 5 weeks of studying Spanish at Escuela Mexicana. When I started studying in Guanajuato I was at Beginner Level now I am moving into Intermediate. I have seen a difference in my ability to memorize and my […]
  • On the Street - Often, there are street performers near the Jardin de la Union. This central garden is the heart of Guanajuato. Here residents and tourists gather to promenade and people watch. Clowns, jugglers and gilded performers pose for photos with passersby making for a lively streets-cape. On a Saturday afternoon an impromptu audience gathered on the steps […]
  • It’s Notable - We have slowly become aware of a phenomena on the streets of Guanajuato, the ubiquitous file folder. Dana noticed it first and started taking photos of people walking and carrying single manila file folders. The collection of photos grew to a sumptuous size in no time. Here, are just a few documentations of the daily reality […]
  • The Basilica - The Basilica of Our Lady of Guanjuato is an anchor of daily life here. Her bells ring over the city at the quarter-hour, half hour and hour from morning to evening. Locals and tourists walk past the sidewalk sellers and restaurants that line the basilica plaza. Brides have their portraits taken on the basilica steps as students and regulars occupy […]
  • An Independent Mexico - If you are like me the Mexican Revolution was Pancho Villa and Emilio Zapata fighting for freedom with bandoleros strapped across their chests. But Mexico’s War of Independence actually started 100 years before. Guanajuato played an important role in that war. Father Hildalgo gave his famous speech for freedom at the Church of Dolores in 1810. At the […]
  • The Kiss - There is a Guanajuato legend about a girl named Dona Carmen. Dona Carmen loved Don Luis. She fell in love in church where Don Luis offered her holy water with his hand. Dona Carmen’s father did not approve, threatened to send her to a convent and finally betrothed her to a rich old noble in Spain. Dona Carmen sent […]
  • Botanico - This article is dedicated to the Santa Fe Cactus Rescue Project. Obie, Nancy and Joe, wish you could have seen this with us. Last Saturday we took a bus over to San Miguel de Allende to see their botanical garden. El Charco del Ingenio sits outside of the city on a site combining a wetland, a canyon and […]
  • Stopping Time - It is just a Friday afternoon. Dana and I are walking home from school when we hear the music. We thread our way through the people in the street to the park in the center of Guanajuato. There we see couples dancing. You can tell these are people who have danced together for a long time. They […]
  • A Road Rally - We came upon Rally Guanajuato Corona at the bottom of our callejon next to the Alhondiga museum. It turns out that Guanajuato Mexico is the starting point for Round 3 of the FIA International World Rally Championships. This year’s marathon race has run in Sweden, Wales and Monte Carlo and now in Mexico with more world sites on […]
  • The Lime Tree - We have a lime and an orange tree in our front yard. We have been harvesting and eating limes and oranges from these trees since arriving in Guanajuato in early January. Master Gardener that he is, Dana offered to prune the trees for our landlord. The appropriate pruning tools were purchased and Dana went to […]
  • Mucho Orange - We see an uncanny amount of the color orange in Guanajuato. All of these photos were taken in a random, two-hour walk on a Sunday afternoon.
  • Bedrock - In the bedrock below Guanajuato, there is a place that embodies the history of the land under the city. The Dieguno Museum, is an ex-convent under the Temple of San Diego in the center of Guanajuato. The 450-year old structure remains underground, just above the level of the stone tunnels that carry traffic through the city. In 1780 a […]
  • When it Rains -   It’s raining in Guanajuato. It is the first time in two and a half months. This is our callejon in an afternoon rain. The forecast…three days of rain ahead.  
  • Brain Report 2 - Mi bueno amigo, Richard. We have been in the same classes for three months, will graduate on the same day and have talked and talked and talked in Spanish.  Thank you Richard for your intellect, patience and great good humor.   To learn to speak a second language you must speak it. Now this is so basic and […]
  • Don Quixote -  I am I, Don Quixote, The Lord of La Mancha, My destiny calls and I go…. Guanajuato is all things Cervantes. The spirit of Cervantes novel “Don Quixote” pervades the town. A unique work of tragedy and comedy, Don Quixote is the first modern European novel and is considered by many to be one the best works […]
  • It’s Spring! I - What are these? Notice the textures? All over Guanajuato homeowners and shop owners are sprucing up for spring and the coming tourist season. Painters are precariously perched on ladders hanging from the parapets of buildings all over the city. Colors match, jibe and clash as the buildings are joined one to the other in a […]
  • It’s Spring! II - How do you know when it is spring where you are? Is it the change in the light? snowdrops poking up through the snow? the first crocus? the first cactus blossom?  Here in Guanajuato it is painting ladders springing up from sidewalks and down from the tops of buildings. Painting in Guanajuato is a precarious […]
  • Brain Report 3 - I graduated from Escuela Mexicana. My knowledge and understanding of Spanish has increased geometrically. Each day builds on the day before. My professors say learning is “poco a poco,” little by little. I hear a word. I see a word. I hear it again. And in time, it becomes part of my vocabulary. Not once […]
  • Day of the Flowers - On the sixth Friday of Lent, the week before Easter Sunday and only in Guanajuato, is a festival known as El Dia de la Flores (Day of the Flowers). Originally a religious celebration for the Virgin of Sorrows considered the guardian of Guanjuatos’ miners, this holiday is a two-day mixture of the sacred and secular wrapped up […]
  • The Mask Museum - Masks fascinate me. As a child I made them and wore them to the dinner table. The rest of the family found it strange and a little scary. Masks are a primal expression as old as humanity…a disguise, a protection, a pretense, an entertainment. Used in rituals and made of easily destructible natural materials, masks survive from 9000 BC. Bill LeVasseur, an […]
  • Goodbye Guanajuato, Hello Santa Fe - You and I have memories Longer than the road that stretches out ahead. We’re on our way home We’re going home.                                                  Writers: Paul McCartney, John Lennon Guanajuato is a tiny gem […]
  • Midnight in Merida - We arrive in Merida on New Year’s Eve exactly at midnight. Families sit out on the streets in folding chairs as we pass by on the way to our new home in an old colonial house on Calle 75 in the center of the city. Bonfires burn at the curbs. The explosive pop of fireworks make us jump. And […]
  • The Rug and The Sink - The first night we arrive, Janet gives us a tour of the Colonial house where we will be living for the next three months. Janet points out the original “pasta” stone floors. Geometrically patterned stone is laid to appear as an elaborately colored rug in each room. The effect is utilitarian and decorative. It reminds […]
  • A Creation Myth - The Canari are the indigenous people of the Azuay region of southern Ecuador and the lower Andes where Cuenca is found. This story of the creation of the Canari is retold from generation to generation throughout the province of Azuay. In the time before, the Pachamama inundated the land with rain. It rained so hard […]
  • A Cuenca Mystery - This is our Cuenca mystery…We came upon this man in the street market with a lime, a skeleton and an anatomically correct plastic model of human internal organs. He took the lime and moved it gradually down the dummy, from the mouth through the esophagus then down again through the intestinal tract while vigorously explaining […]
  • Ingapirca - We traveled to Ingapirca on a fabulously sunny day. The archeological site sits at 10,500 feet in the Andes. The largest archeological ruins in Ecuador, it is the only complete elliptical structure left by the Incas. The Canari tribe inhabited this site before the Inca. In fact the Inca civilization inhabited Ingapirca for just 70 […]
  • Jiggety-Jog - To market, to market to buy a fat pig; Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. To market, to market, to buy a fat hog; Home again, home again, jiggety-jog. To market, to market, a gallop a trot, To buy some meat to put in the pot; Three pence a quarter, a groat a side, If it […]
  • Made in Ecuador - Since the mid 1600s the hats known as “Panama Hats” have been made in Ecuador. The craft began as a hobby like knitting and crocheting in homes in the Andean highlands and the coastal plains. It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th century that the craft of fine straw weaving became a practice handed down […]
  • Mas Panamas - Panama hats are visually arresting, and architectural, and essentially beautiful in all stages of production. Here are the hats as we saw them in the workshop today. Enjoy…
  • Mountain Roses - We visited a rose farm in the Andes. When cultivated roses grow at 10,000 feet they have a number of unique characteristics that distinguish them from roses grown all over the world. Their stems are especially long and of significantly larger circumference. Their blooms are full and regular. And they have a long “vase life.” […]
  • Cuenca’s Streets - Many of the places we have visited have their own style of street art that expresses a unique aspect of that cities’ culture. Cuenca is part of that tradition. In Adelaide it is contemporary and abstract. In Valparaiso it is an explosion of color covering entire buildings. In the Hispanic barrio of San Francisco it is […]
  • Cuenca’s Walls - Cuenca has a prolific art community with many galleries for contemporary art. We began a meandering and challenging pursuit of the art trails within the city and discovered ceramic wall sculptures hidden in plain sight. We found public works by the region’s two most prominent artists, Eduardo Vega and Hermano Iliescu. Massive and striking, the […]
  • The Dance - We were visiting the Pumapongo Museum and came upon these dancers. We know they are from an Ecuadorian mountain tribe, but we do not know much more. The song and narration were in Quechua, the native language of these indigenous people. They may be descendants of the Canari with their distinctive alpaca chaps, brilliant embroidery […]
  • At The Polls - Elections are coming up in Cuenca. Candidates (253 of them for local and state offices in the Province of Azuay) have hung huge banners all over town. Campaigning lasts for just 45 days preceding the election. Ecuador takes voting seriously. Voting starts at the age of 16 and about 75% of the citizenry casts their […]
  • Fat Tuesday - Fat Tuesday marks the very last day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The name comes from the idea that this Tuesday is the last day available for gluttony and gorging before the fasting of the Lenten season. Ecuador, like many Catholic countries, celebrates with a “carnival day” including a parade. In Cuenca, Fat […]
  • Weaving Macanas - On a narrow road near the village of Gualaceo deep in the mountains of Southern Ecuador we found the weaving workshop of Jose Jimenez, Casa Del Makana. Jose and his family keep the tradition of weaving macanas, the traditional knotted shawl that has been essential clothing in this part of the world for centuries. The […]
  • By Hand - Filigrana (filigree) silver jewelry is a an age-old craft practiced in the village of Chordeleg. Here we visited the workshop of Gilberto Jara, one of the most renowned creators of filigree jewelry in the world. Gilberto works with his son Flavio in an astonishingly small workshop behind their jewelry store. We visited on a Saturday […]
  • The Road to San Bartolome - Near San Bartolome is the home of Santiago Uyaguari and his family. His guitar workshop sits right by the rough road to town. The artisans of the Uyaguari family go back five generations or more. How long, “No one really knows.” And Santiago is carrying on that tradition working with his father, surrounded by his […]
  • Goodbye Cuenca - We have grown fond of Cuenca. We walked all over this small town, sat in its parks and plazas, ate our daily almuerzo (fixed price, three-course lunch for $2.00) at restaurants up and down the street and around the block, gone to classes on Ecuadorian history and culture, visited small villages, artisans and Ingapirca. We […]
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