Bajo el cielo de Mexico

or …

“Beneath the Sky of Mexico” …

That’s where your humble narrator found himself last Friday night through Monday morning. We spent our Memorial day weekend in Mexico. Not in some crummy border town where the rest of you that can claim to have been to Mexico have been, but rather deep in Central Mexico, up in the mountains, in a picturesque little town that’s barely been touched by the tourism industry.

Christine and I found ourselves surrounded by friends and family this past weekend and it was truly an amazing weekend. We left little Jack at home with his Godparents on Friday morning, and headed south (after a short trip north to Dallas of course).

We flew into Guanajuato, Mexico (by way of the airport in Leon) with Mary (Christine’s mom), Marc and Cyndi (our good friends from Austin), and Larry and Terry (Cyndi’s mom and dad), as well as a host of other friends that were all heading down to Jennifer Hill’s (friends of the Kamps) wedding to Daniel Hernandez. At the airport in Leon, I ordered a taxi for seven, and paid $40 for a van without airconditioning to take us to Guanajuato. Nothing like paying $40 to drive through smoke from fires in the fields and exhaust from a third world country’s lack of emission standards in 90 degree weather…

On the drive into Guanajuato, the air got moderately cleaner, and the scenery got much better. The town is built in the mountains, and is an old Spanish colonial mining town. The main road into town turns into a tunnel that we exited right next to our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Luna near the Temple of San Diego in the “touristy” part of town.

As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we ran into lots of old friends. After we stored our bags in our rooms, we started enjoying cervezas. I was partial to Indio, a local brew in central Mexico, while Marc stuck to Victoria. The girls stuck to Sol and Pacifica (which is another of my favorites).

We spent four glorious days in Mexico, mainly walking from shop to shop, or restaurant to restaurant, or visiting one of the local sights.

We went to the Museo Mummificado while in Guanajuato, which is a museum of mummies that were created naturally in the dry crpyts that were built into the side of the moutains. It was freaky. I’ve seen enough dead naked people now to never need to see a mummy again.

We visited the church at the top of the mountain near the Vallencia mines. It’s amazing how beautfiful the churches in Guanajuato are, combined with the fact that the populace that actually visits them is so extremely poor. The altars in this particular church, or rather the three walls at the top chancel and to the sides of the transept were covered in gold. The entire wall on all three sides. Covered in gold. Surrounded by extreme poverty.

Also interesting about the churches in Guanajuato: Jesus is depicted in a much more brutal fashion than we’re accustomed to here in the states. He’s very bloody and looks like He’s in more pain than I’ve seen Him in in most popular depictions. We sort of hypothesized that the reason for this is that there is so much more suffering in Mexico, that this is done so the local populace sees how much suffering He went through, whereas in America, if you can’t eat dinner at a good restaurant you think your life is in shambles, so all you need to see is that Jesus ate at McDonald’s too, so your life isn’t that bad. In Mexico He’s all cut up and bloody, and very dehydrated looking, so the fact that you have little money isn’t a bid deal.

We walked through the Mercado Hidalgo, which is in an old train station that was supposedly designed by Eifel (yes, the one and only). It was a working market, not like the ones you might visit in a border town that’s set up for tourists… nope. While this market had touristy crap in it, it also had lots of raw meat and vegetables, and smelled pretty strongly.

We rode the tram up to Papila… a statue of the idian that guarded the town (or something like that… I honestly don’t remember). The view of the city from up there was gorgeous… We got some great photos up there.

We attended the rehersal dinner for the wedding we were there to attend on Friday night at a woderful restaurant in the San Javier part of town. The conversations were lots of fun, and the food was great.

The wedding was held in a small chapel at the Hacienda Guanajuato (a state park now), which as I understand it the groom’s brother got permission from the Governor of Guanajuato to allow the wedding to take place there. The bride was gorgeous. The groom was handsome. All of the guests were in good moods. We witnessed the wedding ceremony, which was special, as the officiant was the groom’s brother. He threw in plenty of personal stories and wished the bride and groom well, while he spoke in spanish and english for the benefits of both families and the many friends in attendance.

The reception was a lot of fun, held in an open garden at the top of a hill, just up from the wedding chapel. The mariachi band was amazing as they played their way into the reception leading the bride and groom. We ate a fine meal and drank good beer and wine while meeting new friends and conversing with friends of old. We danced a little (some people danced a lot) and even got Mary out on the dance floor with us (after a few shots of Tequila I hear … Mr. Hill, the bride’s father, claims to have seen Mary putting back the Tequila, though I can neither confirm nor deny his claim).

Christine and I closed down the wedding, then stayed up late into the night talking with friends and enjoying the cool moutain air (we did that many nights, usually sleeping until 10am or later each morning).

All of our photos from the trip are here, and photos from the wedding specifically are here.

Stay tuned for more… I bought a website and we’ll be putting more Guanajuato information and pictures up there soon, I’m sure.

update: The title of this entry comes from a movie made in 1937. I picked this title because Mark used the title I was wanting to use: Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and since it was a movie title, I figured I’d find another movie title for this entry.