Saturday, March 15, 2008

In Guanajuato: Explore Callejons

One favorite off the beaten track is up into La Alameda colonia to the Church of Guadalupe. Start at Plaza La Baratilla, a lively place in the daytime with students, children chasing pigeons, vendors and people out doing their shopping. A fountain is the centerpiece, bouquets of white cala lilies and a mixed pallete of zinnias surround flower sellers against one wall, boxes of oranges and lemons are stacked on the steps of a frutería on a another wall. After a nice rest people watching, move on up the callejon that exits the plaza to your right beside Frutería Torres. You’ll pass fruit, pepper and mole vendors lining the street for the first hundred yards then merge into Calle Alameda at a tiny plazuela. Cars coming downhill veer off into a tunnel just as you walk under a bridge. It’s still more up to Calle Cuacamaza where you turn left, walk past a lavender house with yellow window trimmings, and enter a callejon that leads straight up to forty two concrete steps where a cross and a shady plazuela greet you at the top. The aroma of baking bread from La Infancia Panadería wafts across the plazuela. Catch your breath and move on towards the corner with the mustard gold house and continue up, left again at your first calle. Up this steep winding road, and when you reach the top and another small plaza you’re in view of your destination. Turquoise tiled belfries and a clock tower top the soft rose colored stone Church of Guadalupe.

Make your way back down Calzada de Guadalupe for a breezy view of the city below walking past residences and small shops with their walls straight against the stone sidewalk. Open windows and doors provide glimpses into ordinary life. Further along pass under three short tunnels below university buildings and come to Subida Hospitales. The small façade ruin of a 1565 hospital chapel is just up the lane. Back track to Calzada de Guadalupe and continue down one block along the side of massive university steps to Calle Pozitos.

Turn right, past Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato (worth a visit) then past Callejon La Condesa. Cross Calle Juan Valle, the Diego Rivera Museum (also worth a visit) and go up the slope to Callejon Cantaritos and turn left. At one of the several twists and turns you pass Clave Azul a bar decorated with Mexican movie star posters and old radios. Past the blue building you’ll enter the funniest portion of a callejon in the city, molded to fit the hips and shoulders of a body, then spill out into the best plaza in the city, peaceful Plazuela San Francisco. Any number of the outdoor cafes surrounding the square will serve you to a well deserved limonada or cerveza.

A tip for walkers: Feel free to explore the callejons on your own, or wander off the described routes. If you get lost, keep wandering, try your Spanish or use sign language. The city isn’t that large and eventually you’ll find your way. Buen Viaje.