New town. New energy to meld with. Just as we’re wont to do, we found the location of our Airbnb pad, dropped bags, and hit the streets. Professional street-hitters in action. Our place was at the downhill end of a pasillo artesanal. First impressions of a beautiful town. Cobblestone streets and cathedrals galore. Warm rustic interiors. Friendly Mexican tile and dark wood beams.
We walked about, quickening and slowing our pace according to the foot traffic. We passed every manner of artisanal goods. Ornate wool rugs from Oaxaca. These things we sought for naught. Our stomachs dictated that we seek sustenance. Nourishment found us in the form of to-die-for gorditas. Estilo casero. I think this was my sister’s favorite meal during the entire trip.
Night fell. And we walked around the busy main plaza. The lit-up, neo-gothic cathedral dominating the scene. A large Christmas tree still stood before it.
It seemed like people were gathering for a reason, but to what end we could nigh ascertain. We started walking away, downhill with an even step to avoid the protruding cobblestones. Then we heard drums, and knew something had commenced. Our eyes widened, knowing it was something special. We turned heels and trotted back uphill towards the source. We came to the large crowd gathered around a wide circle. A very powerful Danza Indígena.
The Gallo Negro Incident –
Later on, we stopped into a local Cantina. Old, wooden swinging saloon doors creaked and moaned. Corridos heavy on the accordion playing from a jukebox in the corner. We sat at the bar and ordered two tequilas. Enter stage right a drunken charlatan who called himself El Gallo Negro. Due to his self-acclaimed money-making prowess. He went on about how his wife doesn’t have to work because he’s a badass provider. In his drunkenness he told the bartender to get us another round of tequilas. He kept on rambling and we chimed in front time to time. He kept repeating himself. He told the bartender to bring us another round of tequilas. Then another. I’m not sure. I don’t recall. We were getting drunker and more smiley by the round. When we were ready to leave, el Gallo Negro looked at his bill and said that it was a lot of money. He didn’t have enough to pay. So, I ended up paying our part after all. It wasn’t much. But we didn’t ask for a half-dozen more rounds now did we? He insisted under the guise that he’d pay. We were a bit pissed out of principal.
Giddy on tequila, my sister insisted we get some hamburguesas from a street stand. This decision hurt her stomach for the next couple days. Muahaha.
Next day we went to the Jardín Botánico el Charco del Ingenio. A short taxi-ride from town. It’s a few kilometers of paths in the hills with lots of natural beauty. I went walking on the dirt paths wearing my recently-shined boots. I’m pretty smart huh? There’s a tranquil river, a canyon of grey stone, a small stone labyrinth of the same, an old hacienda, and a great lookout of the city.
I really liked the labyrinth. It was on the other side of the river from the Jardin’s entrance. It felt like a place you reach after a long journey or quest. A mini El Dorado. The spot was very mystical. It had a calming effect on me evident in that we stayed for a good while, enjoying the focal point of desert energy.
Our last day in town, we went to the Tuesday market. Buses 8 & 9 go by there, ask driver “va a la placita?” It is a huge swap-meet-style mercado. Huge areas of clothing for 10 pesos al kilo, savory food, and every kind of household item imaginable. I like local markets like this. I like the artisanal ones too, but those are for the tourists. You need new jeans? Go there. Goldfish? Go there. Pretty sweet deal.
We got back to our stuff, and got on a bus to Guanajuato. Departure! Peace!