University of Guanajuato Summer Course
Right after I got back from WYD 2008 Australia (Literally a week later) I had tickets to a direct flight departing from Tijuana to Leon Bajio, Guanajuato MX. I actually stayed out there all summer for a Summer Course at the University of Guanajuato! Here you will find a short summary of places I visited on my stay, travel tips, along with some of my own suggestions that I wish someone would have told me before my voyage!
Airline: I decided to fly out of TJ because of the price difference, LAX was a lot more expensive. I flew Volaris (relatively cheap prices and great service). After being dropped off and crossing the border by foot, I took a taxi to the airport. The fee was US $15... which, in my opinion, was a bit overpriced considering the fact that the airport is like 10 mins away by car from the border. But regardless, I wasn't about to start a fight with the taxi man... especially after the horror stories I heard about TJ!
Upon arriving at the city I chose to stay at El Hostalito Guanajuato. I've heard that they've recently moved, but when i stayed there they were located at Sangre de Cristo #9. This place is perfect if your not too picky and can survive having to share a kitchen. In reality what you pay for is your personal bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen, living room, study room are all shared with the other guests. I was here a whole summer and not once did I have a problem with someone else eating my food. Just simply put a tape lable on it with your name and you'll be fine. Since the majority of the people that stay here are backpackers, they dont tend to stay very long. The price is unbeatable. I paid $2000 pesos (US $200) a month.
San Miguel de Allende & Queretaro:
Set right at the center of the Guanajuato plaza is a booking spot where you can reserve day trips, weekend excursions, for a very reasonable price (you can actually bargain with them). I traveled all over the place! From the thermal springs outside San Miguel de Allende to the colossal statue of Jesus at Cristo Rey and countless colonial towns. I visited San Miguel de Allende and Queretaro the longest. SMA is the cutest little town I've ever been too :) It’s filled with endless "callejones" (alleys) and their vendors. It has a great colonial atmosphere. Queretaro is more of an industrialized city, but recently it was discovered that a pyramid was built underneath the town, the Pyramid of El Pueblito; El Cerrito. I was hoping we'd be able to walk onto it, but after our tour guide shared with us a certain story, I didn't have the guts too anymore. I turns out that before it was excavated, El Cerrito was a commonly known hang out spot for druggies. During this time, the only visible part of the pyramid was the temple on top, thats where people would gather. One night a young boy fell through the temple floor and fell some x-amount of feet. In order to get him out, archeologists and officials started the excavation thus discovering that there was a pyramid beneath the temple. Present day today, the pyramid has tons of more floors to be discovered, but due to lack of funds, excavation has stopped.
Guanajuato Mummy Museum:In a country where the most anticipated holiday of the year is a celebration the dead, Guanajuato's Mummy Museum is pretty much the main attraction. Visitors from all over come to see the display featuring well over 100 mummies, easily making it one of Guanajuato's most popular - and most peculiar - stops. So why does Guanajuato have so many mummies? HISTORY LESSEON :) In 1865, city officials deemed it necessary to remove some of the bodies from the overcrowded public cemetery, or the "Panteón", in order to make room for more. However, authorities quickly discovered that what they were finding weren't skeletons as they expected, but rather mummified bodies complete with facial expressions. It turns out that the combination of area's dry atmosphere and the mineral content of the soil preserves, naturally mummifies bodies- a process which only takes 5 or 6 years. Today you can check out the scores of mummies, including the first mummy that was discovered, a pregnant mummy, the world's smallest mummy. Some of the mummies are clothed, some are naked, others sport just shoes. There are even some mummies that are believed to have been been buried alive- particularly people who were thought dead during a cholera outbreak and immediately buried for fear of the disease spread.
Guanajuato Food: If the weekend excursions and site seeing don’t fill your shoes, then take advantage of the local restaurants! The most delicious Mexican food I have ever tasted came from "La Fonda" which is comida rapida (fast food but full meal) and only cost me $30 pesos= approx US $3. They have the BEST chicharrones rojos! Omosh :) Delicious! For desert, BE SURE to try Nive de Garrafa. Its pretty much "fine shaved" flavored ice, but it’s the best form of ice cream I have yet to try! They have all sorts of flavors, but my personal fav was Limon. I've been looking for something similar in the states, but have had no such luck :(
Extra Time??: Within the city itself, there is so much to see and do! The Guanajuato Grill (the city's most popular night club) is a good place to get a feel for Guanajuato nightlife, especially Tuesday nights since its "Ladies free drink night". You also have "El Callejon del Beso". If you happen to visit the city with your significant other, this is a site you don’t want to miss! Legend has it, you and your partner share a kiss in this alleyway, you'll bring onto your relationship great fortune. Lastly, if you feel up for a walk, visit la Estuata de Pipila located on the tallest hill overlooking the city! Great history can be found there :) I hope this blog was helpful in some way, & if you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to ask :)