Mexico Travel: Guanajuato’s Famous and Eerie Mummy Museum
So at about 6 pm I started to stroll towards downtown through the historic streets of Guanajuato. It was getting dark yet I felt very safe walking alone as many other women, couples and families were on the street. I arrived at the Jardín de la Unión and took in the evening atmosphere on the city’s main square. Numerous restaurants surround the densely wooded plaza with its laurel trees, and it seemed that every restaurant had a separate mariachi group playing for its guests.
Restaurants were in full swing
Several Estudiantina groups were waiting at different street corners for their serenade to begin and trying to sell spots to the passers-by. Charges were around 90 pesos (about 9 or 10 Dollars). A large group of young people was sitting on the stairs of the Teatro Juarez, one of Mexico’s most beautiful theatres. President Porfirio Diaz opened this theatre in 1903 after its opulent construction had taken more than 30 years. Doric columns of green cantera stone adorn the front of this historic structure, and three flights of stairs invite people to sit down.
The Teatro Juarez at night
I set off on a walk to explore Guanajuato by night and strolled past the cathedral to the university which is lit up beautifully at night. The University of Guanajuato was established in 1732 and with its 26,000 students is one of the country’s most important universities. The university’s main building is built of white sandstone, and with its imposing size is magnificently illuminated at night.
The University of Guanajuato at night
Around 7 pm stores in the side streets were still open and I found my way back to the Plazuela de San Fernando which had so impressed me earlier today. People were sitting outside with laptops, hooked into some wireless network while they were enjoying a coffee on an outdoor terrace. The fact that Guanajuato was one of New Spain’s wealthiest mining towns is plainly obvious with the opulent architecture at every corner.
Nightly street scene in Guanajuato
I also noticed that walking alone as a female traveller in Guanajuato felt very safe. There were so many people on the streets and the town had a very friendly air about it which made me feel very comfortable. At about 8 pm I arrived back at the Jardín de la Unión, and was watching the student minstrels get ready to set off on their evening walking tour. I then went into one of the side streets and happened to run into an Estudiantina that was already in full swing, with a large number of musicians singing and playing traditional Mexican songs.
A large group of high school girls had joined this group and was singing along to many of the songs. At different intervals they were dancing and jumping and having a thoroughly great time. I also talked with an adventurous couple from California who were on an extended trip throughout Mexico, taking local buses and sleeping in very simple accommodations, and all that without any knowledge of Spanish. Their adventurous spirit was carrying them from place to place.
The Estudiantina walks through the narrow streets of Guanajuato
The Estudiantina came to an end about an hour and a half after it started and the musicians performed a few more songs for the crowd before disbanding. By this time it was after 9 pm and I wanted to get back to my hotel. Rather than walking back I felt like taking public transport, and when I asked the locals for a bus stop they pointed downwards. The bus route actually runs underground for long stretches in Guanajuato’s unique tunnel system.
I took a set of stairs down and arrived in one of the city’s tunnels and waited with two other women for the local buses. It felt a bit strange standing around a bus stop as a solo traveller after dark, but I took my cue from the local women who felt completely safe and comfortable waiting underground at a lonesome bus stop.
Music is a big part of Guanajuato
When the bus arrived I hopped on board and filmed the entire journey through Guanajuato’s tunnels, fascinated by these underground structures that snake through the bowels of the city. The bus ride back to the Quinta Las Acacias was very inexpensive – about 4 pesos (less than 50 Cents). People on the bus were very friendly and a local boy was clearly fascinated by me talking English into my camera while I recorded the entire bus trip.
I finally arrived back at my hotel and was absolutely exhausted. After checking my email on the high-speed wireless Internet connection and after a bit of satellite television I fell soundly asleep. I needed the rest, because the next morning an adventure of a completely different kind would start: a biking tour in the mountains of Guanajuato!