Day 12 -Lazy Independence Day 

We got wet last night.

Almost as soon as we got to the Alhondiga thunder and lighting started and the skies opened up.   We stayed for almost an hour, watching dancers and then a 13 piece band.

It got too wet for us and we went home and listened to the fire works going off around us until well after midnight.

This morning it was back to the Mercado for breakfast.    Enchiladas Mineras for me again.

  And a donut for dessert.


All the museums are closed today so we’re just walking around,  stopping for drinks.  Last night before heading to the big celebrations we stopped at La Clave Azul for more tequila.

The man who owns the bar wanted us to try a “little piece” of the special he had last night.   It was a giant plate of roast baby pig.   And it was amazing.

And then he brought us cake! All for free.

We had an amazing time with the owner and the bartender.  They were both so happy we came back a second time.

So it only makes sense to go back a third, right? It is absolutely the best bar in Guanajuato.   We had 6 beers, and got 5 plates of free food! And not crap nuts or popcorn, but actual appetizers that left us full.  Jimca and cucumber tossed in lime and chili salt, roasted baby potatoes, tomatoes with oregano and cheese, soup and flautas.

I will miss this bar a lot.

We had drinks at a different outdoor patio, met a gal named Nancy and a man Juan and tried to converse with them.  Maybe 40% of our conversation was understood.

We met our airbnb host’s Mom last night.    She invited us in for some tequila and we ended up talking for a few hours about travel, Mexico and Canada.

We are leaving a day early to spend an extra day in Leon, get our shopping on.   Leon is apparently quite the leather shopping destination and I want some boots and a jacket.

Day 11 – Mummy Dearest

Our first stop today was the Mercado for breakfast at one of the little booths.  

There were 12 or 13 of them all competing for our money.  We had ladies yelling at us and waving menus.  

  
We choose booth 6. I had the local enchilada speciality – Enchilada Mineras and Mikil had cheese enchiladas covered with mole sauce 

    
   
From there we hiked up a giant set of stairs trying to find the Mummy Museum

Something about the air and humidity here has caused dead bodies to mummify.  

       

  It was pretty awesome. 

We think the bodies all came from this cemetery. 

  
   
It’s a very important day in Mexican history, the Grito. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grito_de_Dolores
We are planning to head down to the Alhondiga de Granaditas to watch the President of Mexico give the Grito from the palace in Mexico City. 

There has been pretty much non stop fire works today.  It’s going to get very very loud! 

Day 10 – Let’s Get Drunk! 

We had an early night last night, which really worked in our favour as our airbnb owners dogs (3!) started barking at 630am and went until at least 7.

No idea why.  Just for fun?

We headed down into the Centro and then up to the El Pipila Monument.   It was a hell of a lot of steps.

  
  
 We bought some local hand crafted souvenirs and then wandered back down into Centro.

We had lunch at a chicken rotisserie restaurant.   For $15 we got all this


  
Then we found our way to the amazing bar La Clave Azul.

It was suprisingly easy to find, many cause of all the blogs I’ve read about it.

Go to San Fernando Plaza.  Find the Bossa Cassanova Restaurant.  Take the tiny alley behind it.


  
  
We highly recommend this bar.  The bartenders were a delight.  Super friendly and helped us order the Bandera – the flag.  It’s tequila, lime and sangrita (tomato juice and spices).  They are the colours of the Mexican flag so that’s why it’s called that.    We also got free snacks.   
After a few rounds of tequila it was back out into the town.

And to the famed Alley of the Kiss.  Legend has it that two lovers lived across from each other and kissed on the balconies.   They were found out by the girl’s father and she was murdered and the young man committed suicide.

We went and played a few rounds of pool.   Mikil is really good.    I am awful.

I also think I got hit on.  But I’m not sure as it was in Español.

Mikil says it’s cause of my pool stance.   But I just have too much legs.

We have crap wifi at the house so I imagine we’ll spend the rest of the night drinking and having the fun.

Day 8 & 9 – Bus, Bus, Bus

We spent our last half day in Xilitla sleeping in.   We partied hard the night before with our new pals at The Jungle.   

They’re really great dudes who love music. If you’re in town stop by, it’s right next to Hotel Guzman, across from the awful restaurant Cayos.  

When we finally got out of bed we taxied to Las Pozas for one last look around and swim.    

 The air was cooler, it was raining, which ended up making the water less cold (for us) to swim in.   
Most of the Mexicans we saw were shivering from being in the water.  

Mikil impressed a bunch of teenagers by jumping off the high rocks again.    Soon he had a handful of them joining him.   One girl, Jessica, was showing up all the boys.  She was first to jump off and went a second time before a few of the boys made a jump.   

I will very much miss Xilitla.  I could have spent weeks there.  Next time I will rent a car.  

We caught the 3pm bus, I popped some gravol and slept for most of the ride.  

We got to Queretaro late, like 9pm.  Then it was a 20 min cab ride into the Centro to our Hotel.   

Do not stay at Hotel Hidalgo.  It is crap.  Over priced.  Tiny little windowless room. So fucking loud and bright despite the no windows.   

We were up early thanks to our room so we sorted out bus tickets out at an Oxxo store. 

Then it was breakfast time.   And the best meal of the trip – Tikua Sur Este.  

We tried grasshoppers! They’re really salty. 

Mikil had the “small” torta.   I had amazing mole enchiladas.   

The hot chocolate was incredibly rich and had cinnamon added in.  

 
  

  

  

   

 It’s rated the #1 restaurant in Queretaro and I can see why.   
We wandered the Centro did some shopping and then it was back to the bus station to get to Guanajuato.  

   
 

After another long bus ride (well only 2 hours) we arrived in Guanajuato   

Our little house is cute.   At the top of a hill, so we’ll be working off these cervesas.  

We’ve hit the town for dinner and drinks.   

Probably an early night thanks to that crap hotel last night.   

Our view from dinner is AMAZING

  
    
 

Day 7 – Welcome to the Jungle 

The part of the trip I have been looking forward to the most was the magical gardens, Las Pozas, of Edward James.

And it happened today.   And I don’t have the words or the photos to share what a fucking phenomal experience this was.

It was worth the 6 hour bus ride, the awful motion sickness and the poops I was struck with this morning (probably from that awful meal last night).

3 imodiums, two giant swigs of pepto and some grapefruit seed extract got me out the door and into the jungle.

We grabbed a taxi from our hotel in Xilitla to the entrance of Las Pozas for $50 pesos.  The entrance fee was $50 pesos each.

And then we walked into a surreal, magical garden that couldn’t exist anywhere else.

Not only because the cement structures seem to fit in so well with the jungle surroundings, but there is no way in hell Canada or the U.S.A would allow it to exist.

It seemed like we were in an Indiana Jones movie.

There were butterflies everywhere   Orange ones, black ones, grey ones and my favourite, giant blue ones.  Unfortunately they didn’t want to pose for me.

We wandered around for a few hours and then got our swim on.

We met a lovely local family, the dad Jose could speak some English.   Mikil showed one daughter how to jump off some rocks.   And we ended up in their family photos at the end of the day.   They told their daughters they would water them so they’d grow up to be tall like me.   The mom and the aunt got a kick out of standing next to me, they both came up to my armpits.

We ate our dinner at a cute little cafe down the road from the garden, it was built into the side of rock.

And now, I leave you with the photos from today.

Start planning your vacation here.       
  
  



  

  

Day 6 – Trying Not To Barf 

Guess what everyone? I have insanely bad motion sickness.   I had no idea it was this bad.  Before I just used to get a headache.  I would kill for that headache to come back.   Instead I am fighting the barfs.

Another early morning finishing our packing and cleaning up our airbnb. I also got to call for a taxi which was hilarious.  Joy wrote out what to say.   And I screwed it up.  Eventually the lady put someone on who could speak English.

The first bus we took to get from SMA to Queretaro was with ETN.  A super first class bus.   We paid about $20 Canadian for two one way tickets.   The seats were huge, they reclined, and had a foot rest.   I could actually stretch out my legs.    We also had touch screen tvs that had a small choice of movies or tv.  And we got a drink and a snack.



Once the ride startered I discovered my new found motion sickness.   I popped a few homeopathic pills but they did nothing.

But I made it to Queretaro barf free.

We had an hour in Queretaro bus station to kill, so we had some food and I tried to mentally prepare for the 6 hour bus ride ahead.      Pastor Torta

For some reason the second bus wasn’t as bad as the first one.

I managed to stay drug free until we reached the town of Pinal de Amoles.  It was at the beginning of the 3 hours of switch backs.


It seemed like the scenery changed with one turn.  All of sudden there was greenery.   And we started to feel the humidity.

I took my gravol and slept on and off for the next three hours and Mikil enjoyed the scenery.     We arrived in Xilitla a little after 6.  Had a guy approach us the second we were off the bus to offer to take us up to Los Pozas for 80 pesos.  I’ve got his number and we’ll see about calling him.

Our hotel, Guzman, is pretty adorable.  And quite empty.   It seems like it’s just us and the bus drivers that got us here.    We also discovered that the bed platform for our bed is made of concrete.   Mikil is very happy, he loves a hard mattress.
We wandered the town then went and had dinner behind our hotel because it was recommended by the hotel owner.

I had read before hand, and Joy warned us last night, that the food here isn’t great.   And that is the hard truth.

This was probably the worst meal we’ve had so far.   And the waitress hated us.   No smiles, no de nada after our gracias.  But she was nice to the mexican couples seated around us.   Maybe it’s my tattoos.

The view was totally worth the bad food and crap service.   I think the view is spectacular no matter where you are in town.

It’s 33 outside with 60% humidity.  We are sweating like crazy.  Luckily we have air conditioning in our room.

As we headed home after dinner we found a bar next to our hotel called the Jungle.   It’s a rock bar.  The kids running it couldn’t be more than 25 and really dig classic rock.    
Tomorrow we hope to be up earlyish and at Los Pozas for close to when it opens.  I think I am most excited for this adventure!

Day 5 – Nowhere To Go But Up

It was mountain bike day! And I survived!

We were up early, so early in fact that the hot airballons didn’t wake us, we managed to get on the roof and see them fly over us.  We had to be at the bike shop for just before 9 to get our gear and load up in the van.   It was a 15 minute drive out of the city.


We had one other couple with us on the tour, Louis and Denise.  They were from San Diego.  Very lovely people.

I was the only one without mountain bike experience so I was fairly nervous, but it turns out that I’m pretty darn good at this mountain biking.

We parked the van at La Gruta hot springs and rode into the small village of Atotonilco.  The church in town was the site of one of the important activities of the Mexican independence fight.    It’s been beautifully maintained and those are all original frescos.


 From there it was straight out into the hilly desert.

We rode mostly dirt roads, some very bounty cobblestone and about 4 single tracks.  I liked the downhill and single tracks the most.

We were out for 3 hours and did 29 km.   Not bad for Mexico heat!

I didn’t walk any of the big hills, only one small major incline that came up on me too fast and I didn’t gear down in time.

I am also super proud of not falling once! I had a few close calls but I kept it together.

At times the scenery looked like we were in Africa.


  
 
  After our long ride we got to enjoy the hot springs.   Which isn’t anything I thought I would do in this kinda heat.   But after the work out we got in that hot water was a treat for our sore muscles.
La Gruta has a restaurant, 2 pools with pool side drink service and the coolest hidden room with a hot water waterfall.   



It cost $110 pesos for this amazing hot water treat.  I highly recommend both the Bici Burro tour and a trip to La Gruta.

We ended our last night here in SMA by having drinks with out amazing airbnb host Joy.    She is hilarious, super accomodating and I can’t recommend this airbnb enough.

So this is it for our first stop in Mexico.    Tomorrow at 9am we catch the bus to Queretaro, then another bus to Xilitla.      We should arrive at 6pm.  It’ll be a long day.

Day 4 – Shit Gets Real 

Poop! Toilets! And a real market place.

Now, for those of you who’ve known me for a long time, know that I talk about poops.  And have a strange fascination with toilets in other countries.   I spent a good 10 minutes of my grade 10 “just back from Europe” presentation talking about the crazy toilets they had.

If you don’t want to hear about bathroom stuff, skip ahead.

We had a slow start today due to some tummy troubles.  Possibly a mixup from not soaking a pear in the disenfectant for long enough or maybe just the fact that despite your best intentions, it’s hard to remember to always hand sanitize. And I refuse to not eat delicious street food.

After pounding the pepto we felt secure enough to grab a taxi and head to the El Tianguis Mercado (Tuesday Market).   It’s located on the outskirts of town and cost a cheap $40 pesos to drive there from close to our airbnb.

I had wanted to go because a lot of old white Americans said it was awful.   And if old white Americans hate something, I am confident I will enjoy it.

And we did!  It’s huge! And they sell everything.  Clothes, tools, birds, stereo equipment, fresh produce and hot food.

It was hard to decide what to eat since there were so many stalls but the gorditas drew us in.

We each had the chili verde and the pollo.

   Don’t those look amazing?! I’m pretty sure I had food all over my face as I devoured these.  We washed it down with Mexican Coca-Cola, much better than the garbage stuff up North.
We spent a good hour wandering the aisles and taking in everything.

  
  
  
And I used my first squatter toilet. It was a fun reminder that I am out of shape and should hit the gym.

We grabbed another taxi and headed back down to the Centro.  For the weeks leading up to this trip my pal Sara and I have been watching the webcam in the Jardin.  So it was my hope that we could work it out that she would see us on the webcam.

 There we are! I’m eating ice cream.    Everyone else is wondering what the heck we’re waiving at.

The ice cream is really good and very different.   Much more sugary and grainy.   We bought ours out of a cart.    The ice cream is kept cool in steel buckets.

  We siesta’d again before venturing out to cross more places off my list.

La Sierna Gorda for an amazing ginger margarita, tacos and gringas.


  
Then we walked to La Cucaracha, a famous local cantina, but it wasn’t open yet.

So we settled on La Azotea which was hidden away on the top of a building.  Beautiful views of the city and sunset.    I had another margarita and Mikil got Don Julio tequila.   It surprised us by coming with a shot glass of red liquid.   We were told it is called sangrita and is tomato juice, lime and spices.  A lady from the Mexican Consulate had told me there was a restaurant in SMA that served jimca tacos and this just happened to be it.  So we had to get one.  Very tasty.  The mayo was similar to the kind usually served with sushi.      One more stop in the Jardin to enjoy the square and it was time to come home.   We have a very early morning for our bike ride.

Day 3 – Jesus comes in threes. 

We just can’t seem to get away from Jesus today.

This morning we were worken up by: roosters, dogs barking, a cat fight and a man playing the trumpet.  From what I’ve been told, not unusual for Mexico.

With our early start we made it to the highly recommended Lavanda Cafe for breakfast.   Probably one of the best coffees I have ever had.   And wonderful poached eggs.  Mikil wasn’t a fan of the constant flute music.

On our way to Bici Burro (a local bike shop) we came across this street  At Bici Burro we met the owner and guide Alberto and have signed up for a mountain bike tour on Wednesday.   25 km spread over 6 hours.   Hopefully it cools down a little, everyday so far has been almost 30.

From Bici Burro we decided to wander up a little staircase between houses to see what the view was like at the top.    The view was so worth my shaking thighs.

 And who was at the top of the hill? Jesus!  After we’d gotten our fill of the view it was time to slowly make our way back down to the Centro.  We wandered in and out of shops and talked to a lovely man about his paintings.   There was an owl one I really liked but it was too much money.

Just as we were coming out of his shop we were stopped by an American woman, the stereotypical southern church lady. – big toothy smile and dripping with fake friendliness.    She asked if we were on vacation.   When we said yes she tried to hand us Jesus pamphlets and told us we should come to Mexico City for church.   Being the direct and no bullshit person I am, I said “no we’re atheists”.   And of course being the loud “I have to push my beliefs on everyone” Christian that she was, she did not like my answer.

So she started in on how we could change our minds. Mikil firmly and politely said he didn’t believe in Jesus.   Church lady was shocked and asked  “couldn’t we see the fallacy in our logic” .   Well that was enough for Mikil, he shot back “I can see the fallacy in your logic”.  That shut her up and I walked away laughing while Mikil shook his head in disbelief.

All that theological talk had me hungry and we were close to Muro Cafe, one of the places on my list.  It was recommend on some food blogs for having a delicious and cheap 3 course lunch.

It was easily the best meal of the trip.  Watermelon water, xoichtil soup, nopal tostadas and a chocolate cake. For $130 pesos! (About $10 canadian).  Mikil had a BBQ chicken sandwich and side salad with a watermelon water for the same price.

There is a really good chance we’ll be back there tomorrow.


   That food put us into a food coma and combined with the heat it was time to go home for a siesta.

We pulled ourselves out of bed just in time for the humidity to skyrocket on our half an hour walk to the bus station to buy our tickets for Thursdsy when we leave San Miguel.   The rain started just as we arrived at the station.

Despite all the reassurances (from my work neighbours – the Mexican Consulate) no, everyone does not speak English.    And thankfully I had planned for this eventuality by printing out the schedule of the bus lines and tickets we needed to buy

So I’m pretty sure we’ve got our tickets sorted for our trip to Xilitla on Thursday.

On our walk back from the bus station we passed a tiny dark  shop selling candles and witchcraft supplies.    I am now the excited owner of a Santa Muerte candle for prosperity.  I also bought a coconut one cause it smelled good.   After all that walking we were ready to just sit and have dinner and drinks.

Back to Gombo restaurant for Micheladas, tequila, margaritas and pizza! And again, we got a free appetizer.   It was deep fried and had cheese.   So amazing.


We’re ending our night hanging out on our patio, talking to our lovely landlady Joy and listening to the neighbours dogs go batshit crazy over nothing.

Day 2 – Lo siento, mi Español es horrible

Today Mikil and I used that phrase a lot.   Our Spanish is horrible. 

English is spoken at the more touristy spots in town, but almost all the restaurants, bars and tiendas we have been to, it’s Spanish only. 

Which is great, everyone seems to get a kick out of the two of us with our Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish book.  And even though we were brought out food we didn’t mean to order, everything is so tasty and it’s a fun way to try new things. 

We started our day off with fresh squeezed orange juice from our local tienda up on the rooftop patio.  

Then we took our time winding through the colourful streets, stopping in shops and looking at menus.  

We met a man named Alex who was selling hats.  He saw the Canadian flag on Mikil’s hat and stopped to talk to us about Canada.   He lived in Toronto for awhile but said it was much too cold.  

And finally, we made a turn and reached the main Jardin and the Parroquia.  Looking at photos online do not do this building justice.  It’s magnificant! We couldn’t go inside during the services so hopefully we can tomorrow.  

We wandered the the Jardin, watching the Mariachis play for people, the vendors selling balloons and hats and a giant costumed Señorita.   

For lunch we picked a shady restaurant with nice photos of tacos.  We ended up ordering soup by mistake, but it was a fantastic mistake.   That soup was the best part of the meal for me.   I hope I can recreate it at home.   

We ventured back out into the sun, but it was too much for me.  So we tucked into a bar for an hour drinking micheladas and margaritas. Michaledas are amazing concoctions    Beer plus lime, spices and maggi or Worcestershire sauce.  Yum! I could drink a lot of these.   

We had a siesta and then back to wandering the streets, again for food. 

We settled on an art cafe and had floutas, salad and what we though was regular tostadas.   Nope! Our Spanish fails us again – pate.  The restaurant was full of Americans and it was so disappointing to hear them speak only English and not even try Spanish.  The staff were al fluent in English, but still.

Another stop at a nearby tienda for beers which we drank on the roof of our place watching the lighting off in the distance.