17 December: Celaya Guanajuato

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V is for Vendetta Breakfast

We woke up quite early since Noe had woken up before us. Then Indi took a little walk around the house while I downloaded pictures into the laptop and wrote in the travelog. Later, when everybody’s up, I made a Eggy-in-the-basket breakfast (based on the V is for Vendetta movie).

 

To Guanajuato

Later in the morning, we all (including Carlos’ mum) drove to Guanajuato. Indi and Ibu Tuti had been there more than ten years ago and they were very fascinated about it. That made me really curious about what so special about this town.

Along the highway to Guanajuato we saw a lot of Strawberry and Cream sellers (Fresas con Crema), it really made me drooll! The weather was quite cold that day even though the sun was really bright. From the highway we could see the statue of Jesus on the peak of the hill near Guanajuato.

 

After about 90 minutes of driving, we were greeted by a great sight of the colourful houses built on the slope of the hills. This is the edge of Guanajuato, a town that was built many centuries ago and is on UNESCO World Heritage list.

 

On the bottom of the hills, there were many tunnels that used to be utilized for mining, and now they are used as roads. It is really fascinating to see how the different road network layers to one another as tunnels, roads, and pedestrian pathways.

We decided to park in a cave-like parking building built inside a mining grotto at the center of Guanajuato town. Carlos asked when would parking space be available, and the guy at the gate said that we had to wait for a couple of minutes. In a classic latino driver manner, Carlos and several other drivers just wait in front of the gate to the carpark, sort of blocking the way. But nevermind, in a classic latino road manner, people just wait or honk a bit.

It was incredible with such a loco way of driving, which is full of power struggle and excuses, the traffic in the latino cities never gets truly chaotic. It seems that there is an invisible hand that gets traffic going. The “horrible” traffic condition in Mexico, as Carlos said, is nothing compared to Jakarta.

From the semi-underground road near the parking space, we took a staircase through a small corridor that opened up into a small square in front of the market, what a nice surprise! We were greeted by the sights of pedestrian priority roads and colorful street peddlers.

Lunch in the Market

Since we were really hungry after the long drive, we went to a small stall in the market for lunch. The atmosphere was ideal for family meal and the setting just like Warung Tegal. Just replace the coke bottle with teh botol bottles and you have a warung tegal.

 

Lunch began with a serving of rice consommé. Noe really loves this tasty soup with rice and he eats almost half a bowl by himself.

Then came our main course with warm corn tortilla.

Indi ordered enchilada with green salsa (verde). Rani got chicarron with red beans, which came as a big surprise because the serving was really look like Sambal Krecek from Yogyakarta. And true enough it also tasted like sambal krecek, because the chicarron is basically made from fried skin and red bean. We even assume that Sambel Krecek must have originated from Spanish chicarron.

We all got Agua the Jamaica (sweet iced hibiscus tea) for drink.

The waitress in the stall was very curious about us and trying to make sense how far is Singapore and Indonesia. She can’t imagine how far it is to fly for 30 hours, and she was fascinated by our effort to speak Spanish.

After lunch, we continued to walk along the street. We saw many kinds of roadside sellers, from handicraft, hand-made fabrics / ponchos, boiled nuts (called …) and dessert cakes (flan, etc).

Then we entered the indoor market. Noe saw a motorcycle ride and he begged us to ride it. We sing along rather than inserting coins to make the ride works because we don’t want Noe to be addicted to such rides.

I then took a look of the things that are sold near the door, small jars of what looks like jams. The seller gave me a tiny spoon to taste. It was a delicious vanilla dulce de leche, home made! But I decided not to buy it now, perhaps later.

Indi was looking for a traditional coin case made from leather but couldn’t find it.

We continued to walk around the indoor market and really captivated by the variety of shops. Yodhi found a great T-shirt shop that sold things with Spanish swearwords and slangs (like, churros – Mexican donuts - for marijuana). We saw mugs shaped like women’s breast and men’s genital, with holes at the appropriate place plugged with rubber plug. The shops also sells antique mayan calendar, but we didn’t buy it because it’s a bit heavy. There are also a lot of Christian statues. To our surprise, the quality of the handicraft souvenir was quite good, even better than handicraft souvenirs in Indonesia. The ones in Guanajuato were neatly handpainted and of consistent craftsmanship.

I became trigger happy and took photos of the activity at the lower level of the indoor market, which sold foodstuff and daily needs. The upper level of the market is mostly for handicraft souvenirs.

 

Walk around Guanajuato

After the market we continued to walk along the street, where I handed the camera over to Indi and he became really trigger happy.

 

We saw a funny looking dog that looks like a crumpled fleece blanket.

 

Then we went to HSBC ATM to get money from our Singapore account and it was quite a breeze. They charged 7 pesos for transaction fee, though.

We went to the Teatro but it was closed for the day. Too bad! In front of the teatro there is a street peddler that sells icecream sprinkled with chili pepper. I really wanted to try it, but since the queue was too long we decided to pass on for this time.

Luckily a few hundred meters later, nearby the Diego Rivera birthplace museum, we found another ice cream parlor that sells similar thing which is called “Raspas and Frutas”.

I ordered a small cup of Lemon-Chamoy sorbet sprinkled with chili pepper. Chamoy is a kind of chili pepper which is rather sour sweet, hence it is used as refreshing drinks or dessert. Yodhi and Carlos ordered a small cup of Tamarind-Lemon sorbet sprinkled with chili pepper. Both Yodhi and I agreed that the sorbet tasted like rujak sauce or Nano-nano. Manis Asem Asin Pedes.

 

We think, we would make a big profit if we open an Indonesian rujak parlor in Mexico.

Then we got to University of Guanajuato which is famous for its arts program, attracting international students from Europe and alike. The main university hall is tucked in the old town with a grand staircase meeting with the narrow street alley. It was a really unique sight. We took a family photo in the grand staircase.

 

We continued to walk and passed by the old embassy of Prussia building (which is called Austria today) that closed in 1867. It is now a bar. It is amazing to find an embassy of a country that does not exist anymore, but the building is preserved including its past usage. In Singapore, they don’t really appreciate old structures like they do here.

Then we arrived at this cute park with a fountain and a gazebo, with al fresco dining at the periphery of the park. Line of trees gives a really cozy atmosphere shading the dining areas and the walkway. We took videos of the Mariachis and Bandas performing inside the alfresco dining areas. It is really a vibrant place with a lot of spontaneous activities.

 

On the way to the café where we would have our afternoon coffee, a seller tried to sell a traditional wool hand-woven fabric. Initially he offered it at 800 pesos but we refused to buy at such a big price. We bargained at 200 pesos. But of course he refused to accept the price. So we just whisked him away if he couldn’t accept our offer and continued to sit at the café. He then continually come to our table in the café to offer the fabric, constantly reducing the price a bit, but we persisted at 200 pesos. After 90 minutes of continual visit to our table, he finally agreed to 200 pesos, which Carlos think is a good price for that size and quality. We gladly settle the transaction and got a huge hand-woven fabric for quite a bargain. Actually we were not disturbed by this guy at all because he was quite a smooth talker and pleasant even when facing a persistent costumer like us.

 

Also, in front of the café where we had our coffee, there is this street performer who joked with the people around the park. He would even ask passers by to kiss him on the lips! Too bad much of the jokes were in Spanish, so we couldn’t really understand it. His gestures, however, were universally recognized.

We continued to walk, and passed by the cathedral, and then saw this shops that sells toys. They happen to have Mimin mask. Since I really love Mimin (a Mexican comic character), we decided to buy it at 100 pesos.

 

Rare Opportunity to get into State Government Building

We then passed by the building for the state government of Guanajuato. Carlos managed to negotiate with the security guard to let us see the building including the meeting rooms. The interior turned out to be really beautiful, with murals, tile mosaics, stained glass, skylights, and paintings of the great Guanajuato statesmen such as Benito Juarez, and the state symbol such as the eagle. Even though the building was old but it is really well maintained and sensitively preserved.

 

Upon exiting the building, we saw a planter box made from old mining vehicle.

 

Alleyway of Kisses

Finally, we got into the Callejon del Beso, which means an alleyway of kiss. Legend told us that there were lovers living in opposite homes. They used to get together across the balcony of the homes. One day, the father of the girl who disapproved their relationship saw the couple kissing across the balcony (the girl was from a fine rich family and the boy was a poor miner). The father got a gun and shot both of them. Since then the alley is known as the alleyway of kiss, and tourists would kiss in this area to make their love eternal.

After that we returned to the parking area and get into the car.

To return to Celaya, Carlos took a countryside road with great scenery of vast desert landscape, right on time for sunset. We took photos of the sunset against the landscape backdrop and we were just awed by the vastness of the scenery. Little did we know at that time, that Carlos was actually lost: he didn’t know the way to return to Celaya.

Christmas Fair in Celaya

When we arrived in Celaya, Hector (Carlos’ brother) and Luis (his friend) had been waiting for us, and offered to take us to the Feria (fair) which happens only once a year between 15 December until mid January. After taking a break for a while, we decided to go to the Feria.

Even though it was really cold we were still really excited with this new experience. There were a lot of food sellers, from grilled corn, to churros, to fried stuff, and sweet breads, antojitos, tortillas, pozole, etc. There are a lot of cotton candy varieties. There are games and rides, such as the mechanical rodeo, ferris wheel, and the kind. There is the bear show with girls in bikini (poor girls, it was a really cold night). There is circus! There is carpet seller with blasting speaker!

We decided to have dinner at a restaurant at the center of the Feria. We had grilled steak and fried chorizo sausage with tortilla. The jukebox in the restaurant blasted latino pop to the pleasure of the fusbal player.

After dinner we went to the indoor exhibition, but we were not really impressed with the products, ranging from wrestling memorabilia to Chinese ornaments to real estate to natural honey. One exhibit even sells coffin! Nevertheless, it was quite an experience.

One exhibit sells all kinds of fruits and for the first time we saw a kind of Mexican rujak consisting cucumber and boiled pigs skin, served with salsa sauce.

Comments

baru baca2 nih, jadi baru

baru baca2 nih, jadi baru tau kalo kalian pergi ke mexico. seperti biasa ceritanya menarik & foto2nya bagus. kalo gak salah itu anjing namanya sharpei :)

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