Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19: Guanajuato

Today you're going to be treated to a photo show!

We got in the car and drove, for no particular reason, to Guanajuato, which is about 100 km. west of San Miguel and is about twice the size.  I remember from my Antioch days that it's a university town.  Knowing nothing, we didn't realize that one has to cross a mountain range to get there.  If San Miguel is about 6,100 feet up, the mountain passes must have been 3,000 feet higher.  Now I understand much better why they say San Miguel is on a high plateau -- as compared with the mountains!

The mountains are heavily wooded and the underlying rock -- granite?  something else? -- was clearly visible.  Keep this rock in mind:  it will be relevant to Guanajuato.

Cresting a final hill, we saw Guanajuato spread out in the valley below and creeping up all the hillsides surrounding it.

All the right angles of all the buildings make this town a cubist's dream.  Even more striking is the colors people paint their houses:  all sorts of colors, and many of them saturated.

It's impossible to feel anything but exhilarated seeing these colors.  We drove a bit more and followed the signs to the Centro Historico.  I've never seen a town like this.  It is built on such steep hillsides that they have tunneled out a honeycomb of roads for buses and cars under the center of town.  Mostly the tunnels, one narrow lane, were too dark to photograph well.  In some places they were constructed of stones with mortar, but in others they were simply hacked out of solid rock like the rock we saw driving in.  The walls were so high in some places there were bracing arches built as well.

Every now and then we drove out of the dark tunnels, as above, and saw dwellings projecting out from the side walls.

Even some of the structures constructed right over the road tunnels had dwellings, although from the looks of it this one might have been a jail.

We also drove around the streets outside of the center of town, and saw many houses covered in potted plants like this one.

On the way back home I was fascinated by the prickly pear cactuses, which grow huge, maybe 20 feet high, and of which the fruit was in various stages of ripeness.  We stopped at a big one.

Up close the fruit is even more interesting.  When they're red like this, they're ripe.

Rick broke one off and peeled it.

I tasted it:  sweet, with hard seeds in the middle.  Rick tasted more of it than I did, and what with the peeling and the tasting the point of the name of the plant became all too apparent:  tiny sharp needle-like things that he felt in his fingers, his tongue, his lips, and even his hard palate.  He has experience with prickly pear cactus -- although I guess not enough experience -- and says it will take a few days for them all to disappear.  The fruit isn't that good!

It was a photographer's dream today.  It was very hard to choose these pictures from the many I took.  I hope you enjoyed them.

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