This wil be Our last week at Escuela Mexicana (our school), and our last week in Guanajuato. We have loved it here, but we are both looking forward to heading off again.
On Saturday we caught a local bus to Dolores Hidalgo, a nearby town, an hour from here. It's flatter than Guanajuato & felt a bit more like a cowboy town. It is famous for being the place where Miguel Hidalgo (a priest) called the people to revolution in 1810. It is also famous for its icecream, (more icecream stories).The flavours we tried were: corn, beer, tequila,avacado, strawberry,coffee, octopus & shrimp,pistashio,mango,cherry,pina con bicardi,& pineapple (not the pig skin or the mole). I had a strawberry & later a coffee, Pat had an avacado, then a tequila.
On Sunday we went walking to another part of Guanajuato that we hadn't been before. Someone we met here knew of a hole in the wall place to eat that is only open on the weekend. We had to get there before 11.00am to get a table. So we arrived at 10.30, for breakfast. Soup & then lamb tortillas. The place was tiny with the whole family cooking. The father did the meat & the mother & daughter made & cooked the tortillas & quesadillas while we watched. You buy the slow cooked lamb (falling off the bone) by the kilo or part thereof & use it & the chopped onion/tomato/coriander to fill the tortilla, along with the salsa rojo. The soup was lamb & tomato broth with rice & garbanzos. We squeezed lime into it & fresh chopped onion/tomato/coriander & ate it with quesadillas. Along with soft drinks it cost us about $5 per person.There were Only locals there except for us.
We often see, and more frequently hear, the men in the street calling or blowing whistles to provide a service to the houses or shops. They each have different calls so that you can tell them apart. For gas bottles, bread, water bottles, milk, knife sharpening. Mostly for water & gas. The water bottles, bigger than the size of those used in water coolers in offices in Australia, are carried up the steps to the house, three at a time, on the back of a small wiry man. The bread (mostly small cakes & sweet buns) is in a large flat basket on the head. The milk we saw was in an old fashioned large metal milk cannister with a lid, like I remember being used in Melbourne when I was a child, (see how old I am). The woman came to the dooor with an enamled pot for him to pour the milk into. Charming to us, but hard work for the people delivering. We saw the knife sharpener being asked to sharpen some big knifes for a restaurant. We were sitting at one of the outside tables and watched him use one hand to wind the handle for the stone to turn and the other to hold the knife he was sharpening. He sat on top of the little box holding the stone wheel. When he finished he folded it back up into a some case shape, picked it up & went on walking through the streets blowing his whistle.
Pat is a star with his Spanish classes. Mine escalated in difficulty last week to the point where I took Thursday afternoon & Friday off. We were doing past imperfect, reflexive, verbs etc. All very challenging para mi. I had had enough for a while. I did what any sensible woman would do. I went shopping & bought jewellery, & drank hot Mexican chocolate. The jewellery is a mix of brightly coloured wooden beads & seeds, and corn nibblets. The necklace cost me about $3.50. The chocolate is served in a demitasse cup. It is like drinking thick melted dark chocolate. It picked me up no end. I am now back in classes again this week, but have gone a class backwards to try to consolidate & not stress myself out. Meanwhile Pat continues like a native speaker (well almost).
Two wonderful things about the Spanish language are:
a.There is a conjugation for verbs that removes culpability. Por ejemplo: The mirror broke itself. The bus made me late; and
b. There is a past tense which is narrative, not just single actions. So... if you use this tense to ask your daughter what she did at school today, it invites a narrative in response. Whereas if you used the ordinary past tense you would get a response such as "studied", because it is asking for verbs telling of a single action only, not the narative context.
We have found a couple of little bars here that are wonderful. They are like grimy dim groovy little bars that I imagine were in Paris in the 1950"s. It is a young town. Is is a university town.The population is about 70% under 30 years of age. Drink beer/tequila, & listen to the live (& wonderful ) jazz & apart from the Spanish/ not French, you could be in Paris. Weird & wonderful art on the walls, narrow alleys, winding steps.You could easily forget where & when you are. There is even the odd old expat here, from somewhere, who looks a bit disipated, world weary, poetried out,and wears a beret. Here to my eye, they do notlook unexpected.
Guanajuato has many tunnels made of stone curved walls under the town itself. It started in the eighteenth century as one tunnel to run the river under the town, then the river was diverted & the tunnels extended. Most of the traffic now runs through the tunnel system. There are also footpaths in most of the tunnels, as a quick way to pop underground & pop up where you wanted to get to in a more direct route than along the alleyways above. There is not a lot of traffic in the town, because it is underground. There are no traffic lights, & no neon signs. You walk along the street & the cafe you went to the day before seems to have disapeared because the doors are closed & there is no other sign of it being there.
We buy fresh juice from hole in the wall places. Just a door & beyond a table & glasses of juice to stand and drink there: or it can be poured into a plasic bag with a straw for you to take away.
In the main square at night are the estudiantinas. They are men dressed up in medieval costume who wend their way through the alleyways at night like a pied piper. They play an instrument, pour drinks, & lead sometimes several dozen people singing through the streets & alleyways.The locals & visitors from elsewhere in Mexico as well as beyond, love them.
Next Saturday we are heading off in search of butterflies. They are Monarch butterflies which migrate to some hills near Morelia in Mexico once a year to breed. There are apparently millions of them there, & fantastic to see. On a warm day the forest & air are full of them.
Enough for now of tall tales but true.Hasta luego,
Christina Y Patricio.