About an hour and a half’s ride from SMA, there is another Unesco Heritage site: the colonial city of Guanajuato.
The most spectacular view of Guanajuato is to be had at the approach to the city at the bottom of the mountain. There is a viewing platform that provides travelers with the best panorama of this colonial town.
Guanajuato blankets a slope of the mountain with an array of houses in bright, almost fluorescent rainbow of colors. While white is dominant, hot pink, magenta, fuchsia, emerald green, teal, cobalt, periwinkle blue, orange, red, yellow, and all the shades in between freely invade the white majority.
Even the main church is painted bright yellow and cupped with a red cupola.
Guanajuato is older than SMA, and some buildings date back to the 16th century, which is practically prehistoric for the new world. While SMA is mostly a one-story town, Guanajuato boasts two and three-story palaces and stately haciendas. What is mind-boggling is that this provincial Mexican town of about 200,000 inhabitants has its own magnificent opera house, which stages monthly operas in addition to concerts and other performances!!! The theater sits 1100 spectators, and has a splendid decor that had been recently restored to its former glory!
Right in from of the theater, stands a modern surrealist sculpture of a giant woman representing the rise of feminism. The town also hosts an international Cervantes festival, and the statures for both Cervantes and his famous creation Don Quixote are to be found in several squares.
The restaurant we had lunch at across the theater was a show in itself. Not only did its interior looked like we were transported back in time, the patrons were also from another era.
Next to us, a group of elderly Mexican matrons in their provincial finery was having lunch. I couldn’t help myself and kept stealing glances at their outfits, jewelry, and the hairdos.
The wait staff, all male, all dressed in black suits and sporting ear pieces, looked more like secret service agents or a mafia entourage than waiters.
A pianist was playing softly some nondescript tunes, but when he started playing hava nagila, all that became way too surreal and we burst out laughing!
This town is much less sophisticated, less gentrified, and less upscale than SMA. It is also decidedly less touristy, much more real, and unspoiled.
For all those staying in SMA, coming here would be a great one-day outing and a glimpse into the real Mexico.


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