It is so very easy to wile away the day here ... to relax into a new pace ... to treat time differently. We seem to be forgetting to look at the clock, to eat when we are hungry and extend Happy Hour well into the twilight. A walk into town to visit an art gallery turns into a seven hour tromp ... into book stores, up new streets, along alleyways that look interesting. There is no need to rush anywhere. What a nice change of pace.
So, we are often surprised when we climb into bed at the end of the day, deliciously tired and with smiles on our faces, and review our "accomplishments" ... they don't amount to much by our old standards. Yes, we did get the little rack installed ... but it meant a trip to the hardware store to get some screws ... and a visit with our RV park manager to borrow a saw ... and at each place there is a visit. Meal preparation goes the same way. It involves a few trips to various (shops) to get tortillas ... another tienda for veggies ... and another for eggs. We have been to the BIG grocery store here once in the 6 weeks to get things not easily available in the little tiendas and will likely make another trip there before we leave San Miguel on the 27th. Our preference is to support the small shop owner.
A week or so ago, we made a trip to Guanajuato to celebrate the end of my Spanish classes (wooohooo, no more homework!!). We'd been there before and have fond memories of a Tango concert in Teatro Principal ... the walks up and down the cobbled streets ... and the friendly people we met. So, we were looking forward to sharing the experience with our travel mates, Jan and Dave. A $21CAD per person roundtrip bus ticket took us through the countryside to the very bustling city of Guanajuato.
Compared to San Miguel's population of 140k, Guanajuato boasts 170k residents. The topography of each city is polar opposite. San Miguel is a hill town with all streets heading up to the centre. Guanajuato is in a narrow valley town where all streets are along the valley floor and head toward the centre. San Miguel has street traffic in all directions and pedestrians have lots of options for getting around. Guanajuato, on the other hand, is a hodgepodge of winding, cobbled alleyways that no car can manoeuvre, congested streets at the bottom of the valley and a system of tunnels under the city that gets a driver from one side to the other. So, it seems that all of the 170K residents of Guanajuato walk down the hill to the main streets, converge with the vehicular traffic, then head back up the other side to where they are going. This makes for very, very busy sidewalks, pedestrian walkways and alleyways. In San Miguel, the city has very few pedestrians after 8 or 9 at night. Guanajuato, being a university town, seems to come alive at 9 ... and the party doesn't stop until the wee hours of the morning.
One of the highlights of our trip was another visit to Teatro Principal. For a mere 150 pesos or about $10 CAD, we were very privileged to see and hear a 75 piece orchestra and world-famous cellist. Since it was open seating, we decided to get there a bit early and get some good seats in the balcony. So we arrived just as a free lecture was being given by the conductor, Daniel Myssyk, who is from Montreal. The guest cellist, Inna Nassidze, has played with famous artists like Yo Yo Ma and Isaac Stern. It was a magical evening of Brahms, Bloch and Takemitu.
We spent the weekend in a lovely hilltop apartment and especially enjoyed having more room than our wee RV. It's was so nice to have a real bed, a couple of comfy sofas and a bathroom to use in the middle of the night without climbing down a ladder. Such simple things, but luxuries to us!! We enjoyed the galleries, museums and restaurants in Guanajuato ... but were admittedly quite happy to be heading "home" to San Miguel after a weekend of exploring the bustling city.
On our way back by bus, we passed hundreds of men on horseback and hundreds of men and women walking along the highway. Apparently even cowboys have a patron saint and his name is St Martin of Tours (known in Mexico as San Martin Caballero since he is often depicted riding on horseback). There is an annual pilgrimage, in early November, where the men on horseback ride to the small church in San Martin de Terreros (population 600). Every year cabelleros saddle up and ride from their ranches in the state of Guanajuato, through towns to San Martin de Terreros. Depending on where they are travelling from, this can be a full day of riding. From San Miguel, it's about 30km. All of the cabelleros are dressed in their Sunday best and the riders stop along the way at little tiendas for a beverage of choice. When they arrive in San Martin de Terreros it's a big party that goes on until the wee hours. The next morning everyone heads back to their ranches ... it's just a few days until the next celebration ... Revolution Day!
Our RV Park, Weber's, has had a steady influx of travellers from Germany, Austria, France, and the US. So far, no other Canadians have arrived. All of our neighbours have been wonderfully friendly ... we only wish that we could speak a bit of German as many here are from Germany. We are feeling quite at home in San Miguel and it will be difficult to leave.