Frida, the same colleague who had previously invited me to San Luís took me along on a trip with her mum and sister to the state of Guanajuato. She had a conference in the town of Irapuato on the Friday and the morning of Saturday, so I explored the town with Paty (her mum) and Atziri (her sister). I was only informed after I returned from the trip that Irapuato is considered the 6th most dangerous city in the world, but we didn’t have any problems. It’s a city known for its fruit – especially strawberries, so, of course, we had to buy kilos of them and devour them back in our Air BnB.
On the Saturday, Frida took me along to her conference to meet the rest of the English teachers from the ‘normal’ schools in Jalisco. ‘Normal’ schools are essentially teacher training schools and the students spend 4 years studying to become specialised primary teachers. This is the kind of school I am an English assistant in, and its a relatively new programme for many of the ‘normales’, so a lot of the teachers were interested to hear about what the programme involves, and it was interesting to meet teachers from the ‘sister’ schools to mine.
We then headed to the state capital, Guanajuato, which is for sure one of the most beautiful cities I’ve had the chance to visit. Unlike the rest of Mexican cities, with their long avenues and towering blocks, Guanajuato has small, winding streets that are almost all pedestrianised, meaning it has a tranquil atmosphere and is lovely just to wander around getting lost while exploring. Since we couldn’t take the car into the city, we parked on top of a hill overlooking the city, and from there we had a beautiful view of the cities colourful buildings and the surrounding mountains. One thing that has struck me more than anything about the landscapes here is the mountains; almost everywhere I’ve been I’ve been amazed at how beautiful the view has always been, even just travelling on the freeway from the city to work each day I’m never bored.
After roaming around the cute streets of the city, we had a quick dinner at a market taco stall, and then headed back out for what is called the ‘callejonada’. The word for street in Spanish is ‘calle’, and the Guanajuato streets are called ‘callejons’, since they are smaller and narrower than usual ‘calles’. A ‘callejonada’ is a tour round the streets accompanied by a live, traditional Guanajuatan band, who played typical Mexican music as we walked, and every so often we would stop for an explanation of certain monuments or landmarks. It was a fun experience, even if I didn’t always understand what was being said during the tour, and the tour guide decided to embarrass me no end (in an endearing manner), calling me ‘mi amor’ and singling me out of the crowd. (It’s not exactly hard to stick out as a white blond girl here.) We then went for Churros and headed to bed, thoroughly exhausted from another long day.
On the Sunday we spent a little time shopping in the market stalls, buying jewellery and Mexican sweets – Obleas (paper thin wafers filled with cajeta) became my new addiction. We then headed back to GDL, stopping off in the ‘pueblo magico’ of Tepatitlan de morelos. There are a number of ‘pueblos magicos’ in Mexico, and they’re generally old rural towns with gorgeous buildings that are preserved how they were when they were built. Tepatitlan had beautiful churches and we stopped off for nieve before heading back home to rest before heading back to work the next day.