Mexico: Raindrops keep falling on my head
It is rainy season here…and when they say rain, they MEAN it. I`m not sure why Jimmy Buffett thought “getting caught in the rain” was song worthy, because I have gotten caught in the rain now 5 days in a row, and I just don`t see the appeal. Today it even hailed a little and I got to know the cigarette seller man pretty well as we spent an hour huddled together under his tarp. My rainjacket wins the award for the most useless item hauled around Latin America for 8 months. I have not once had it with me when I have needed it. This is also perhaps why it`s one of the few items I haven`t lost and had to replace….because it`s always sitting warm and dry inside my bag inside my hostel room….
The City of Eternal Spring, or so claims the nickname, was my next destination. I got into town late and sick and grumpy so I went with the first hotel I found and it turned out to be the most expensive yet to date on this trip (excluding the Carnaval extortion). I had to shell out a whopping $24 for one night`s stay – ouch (what am I going to do when I get back to the states – my eyes are going to pop out of my head every time I have to pay for something.) But it was worth it because I got a good night`s rest and woke up ready to explore. I like this city, but don`t love it – it is pretty standard with the zocalo in the middle, fountain and statue, and cafes along the edges. This one has a big palace on one of the sides, el Palacio de Cortes, built by Hernan Cortes a billion years ago. I was walking around and came across a big pyramid in the middle of no where. It`s interesting how all over Mexico you can find these ruins, just right smack in the middle of your average town, with modern city built all around. I don`t know what the deal was with this one, because the fence around it was locked, but still was an interesting find. In the evening I bopped into a place having some live music and sat with a girl from Kentucky. I had said I was from Colorado so for a few hours we went on as such, and then I mentioned Iowa. She got all excited and told me she`d gone to the U of I. I love it`s a small world moments!!!
The next day I went to the little towns of Tepoztlan and Tlayacapan (and people wonder why I never know where I am – these little town names are impossible for my brain to register). The first was another on the list of “Mexico`s Magical Towns”, a list developed by the Tourism Board I suppose to promote small-town tourism. This town was pretty magical, I guess, charming and quaint and cute and all the things required for magicalness. But it was Saturday and market day and everyone and their dog visit Tepoztlan day, so it was a bit overwhelming and crowded and congested. The other town, which I will spare myself the trouble of spelling again, was much better. It was less hectic and had equally colorful pottery to look at and wish I could buy. And I ate posole for the first time, which was on my list of “must-do`s in Mexico.” It`s a soup with oversized and exploded corn kernels in it and this version had shredded pork and avocado in it. It met all my standards!
Back in Cuernavaca I went into the Cortes Palace to their museum and got to see my first Diego Rivera mural. It was really impressive and this particular one chronicles the history of the state of Morelos. It told the story very well – if only all history lessons were taught like this, maybe my retention rate would be higher! I also went to another museum housing several other works by Rivera and Frida Kalho. It`s pretty impressive to see some of the pieces that are so famous now. The state of Morelos biggest claim to fame is being the place where General Emiliano Zapata was born and where he was assassinated. He was a leader for worker rights and later in the struggle for independence and is a popular guy around here as he is referenced absolutely everywhere.
From there I headed through Mexico City and onto Guanajuato. What in the world was I doing wasting my time in Veracruz and Puebla and Cuernavaca?? Guanajuato is where it`s at!!! I should have come straight up here from Oaxaca. It`s a little like Venice – same romantic feel, same maze of streets and narrow alleyways that can make you dizzy and where you can be lost for hours without ever really being lost!!! And it`s beautiful!!! I realize since I keep calling everywhere I am beautiful, that the word loses some of it`s impact – but seriously this place couldn`t be any more beautiful. There are little alleyways with hair-bend turns and curves everywhere and about 100 small plazas and plazoletas with park benches full at all hours of the day. This town is known for it`s legends and many of the streets and plazas have stories behind them. The most famous is the Callejon del Beso (Alley of the Kiss) where a girl was murdered by her father in a rage because she was caught leaning out over the balcony kissing her forbidden lover. I love towns with stories like this. I bought a corny little “legends of Guanajuato” book and have been indulging in all the dirty laundry this town has to offer!
One of the highlights of Guanajuato is visiting the Mummy Museum. Because of some specific and high mineral content in the soil and in the air here, there have been several mummified corpses exhumed from crypts and graves in the area. There are 100+ on display at the museum and they are very well displayed, making for a very eerie and creepy visit. Some were still fully intact, with their hair and clothes and dentures and everything still perfect. There was a 6 month old mummified fetus that was found inside a mummified pregnant lady and the goriest were a drowning victim with a blueish hue to her skin, a man who had been stabbed to death with blood still around the wound, and a woman buried alive with her hands held in anguish over her face. It was a really great museum!!! I also went to the Diego Rivera museum located in the house in which he was born. There was a lot of his earlier work and a lot of pictures of Frida from when she in her casts. I`m not sure why I am so obsessed with this artistic couple, but fortunately so is all of Mexico so they make it easy.
And now I am in San Miguel de Allende…my last stop before my last stop! It`s another charming little town up in the mountains, and I can see why it is such a popular gringo retirement destination. It is very much suited for artists, writers and aspiring musicians, as well as manicured poodles. Here you can have bacon for breakfast, find WiFi in all the cafes, and drive an SUV without looking obscenely ridiculous. It`s nice though, and I presume the weather is part of the appeal…although I`m sure it`s about to start dumping buckets any minute now, as my raincoat is safely checked into baggage storage at the bus terminal!