I had been anticipating our arrival in Guanajuato for what seemed like forever. The years spent preparing often meant hours, generally in my cubicle (shhh) poring over others trips. Hours reading of others adventures, beyond anxious for the time when I would be the one living out my dreams on the road.
One city that fed these fantasies was Guanajuato. A favorite of many overlanders, the “must have” photo of the colorful town in the background from Morrill RV Park, was the thing of daydreams.
Leaving SMA, we eagerly headed West, in search of this elusive city, packed into the surrounding hillsides, winding, narrow streets and walkways, and an elaborate tunnel system. But don’t drive in the tunnels, they said. Whatever you do, DO NOT drive in the tunnels.
We had read the Church’s Mexico camping book. We had reviewed others travel blogs regarding the challenging drive into camp. We knew that if our GPS tried to route us through the tunnels to ignore her pleas to make a U-turn. We were ready.
Or not. Somehow, in spite of all of the information on how to make it to camp, we did it wrong. We did manage to avoid the tunnels (although in truth many of them are tall enough to allow city buses through) but somehow ended up missing our turn at the hotel to follow the Panorama around town, and headed into the fray. We realized our error and pulled to the side, unable to turn around but uncertain what faced us ahead. Lucky for us, right then one of those said buses passed by. We figured hey, if they can make it on this road, let’s follow along for a bit and see where we end up.
As luck would have it, our route to the campground was actually easier, and shorter, than any of the options we had been advised of. Instead of heading the wrong way down a one-way road at the Y in the road, we headed up that very steep, winding hill, but ended up exactly at the entrance to the camp… going the right direction.
We arrived at camp, somewhat in awe, that the picture in our head had become the picture in front of us. From there, however, I am sad to say Guanajuato didn’t do much for me. Maybe I had been too content in SMA and Patzcuaro. Maybe it was the fact that the owner tried to charge us much more than the latest entry on ioverlander, a mere 10 days prior. Maybe it was that in addition to that inflated price, he wanted to charge us extra money for Aspen to stay.
It might have been the fact that the first night, we were kept up all night. Not by the infamous barking dogs of Guanajuato, but by the constant rustlings around camp. We were prepared, and perfectly aware, that the camp was used as a parking lot for the owner’s neighbors. No problem there. We were not prepared for nonstop visitors that first night. Not merely neighbors heading out for the night or returning from work, but seemingly endless groups of guys putzing around the area, banging on cars, sounds of tinkering, constant comings and goings. For the first time since San Diego, we felt concerned about ourselves and our belongings.
In the end, we lost nothing more than a night of sleep, and headed down the steep path to check out the town. It is, indeed, beautiful, with a sherbet affect from the many colored facades. Curving, colorful streets beckoned, and we spent several hours getting lost exploring side streets. We met up with an old high school friend of Jim’s who has called the city home for five years, had an amazing Middle Eastern Plate at Fenicia while waiting out a rainstorm, and we walked, and walked and walked. That final push up the hill was challenging by days end, but we delighted in seeing the smiling vestiges of Ian & Penny, just in from SMA.
A much more peaceful evening followed than the first night…. And yet I still felt no inclination to hang around. I know some have spent weeks. We left after two nights.
I will never fully understand what draws us to some places and not others. In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter. If we have discovered anything on this trip, it is that everyone’s trip is thoroughly their own, and to rely too much on anyone else’s opinion is folly.
I am glad we met you Guanajuato… perhaps next time I will fall in love.