Day 22 – Dolores Hidalgo

Today we explored San Miguel de Allende again.

After going up to the Mirador and tasting some typical candies we drove 50 miles to Guanajuato, a city which is a World Heritage site as is San Miguel.

Along the way we stopped in famous Dolores Hidalgo, site of the famous Cry for Independence, and of Talavera pottery.

We arrived in Guanajuato after dark to find that the downtown is pierced by a maze of tunnels which cannot be navigated by GPS. After quite a struggle we made it to our hotel; It was worth it: The city was beautifully lit and filled with lively crowds.

As soon as we got our bearings we joined a Barreada Estudiantina, a group of people following a student band through a quaint neighborhood to listen to music and local stories.

We had a blast! Mark was chosen to participate in one of the skits…

The troubadours guided us through alleys as we drank pineapple juice from our souvenir flasques and they sang and played. A perfect end to our first day in Guanajuato.

Day 21 – San Miguel de Allende

Early this morning we ate tortas de frijol and then walked to the Panteón, where notable citizens of Querétaro lie buried. It’s a peaceful park with a lovely view of the aqueduct.

Querétaro has numerous perfectly manicured jardines:

We strolled among the magnificent casonas…

…and the dilapidated casuchas!

We finally decided it was time to drive 60 miles to our next stop. Although Querétaro was a hard act to follow, San Miguel de Allende did not disappoint.

San Miguel is very hilly, so the streets tend to be steep.

We saw two giants swirling in the street…

We made it in time to visit the fantastic toy museum. There were many one-of-a-kind toys hand made out of gourds, wood, straw, horn, and cardboard:

At the market we saw extraordinary sugar candies in fanciful shapes. I bought one so I could photograph the rest…

Then we found a nice terrace with a sunset view of the plaza…

…and we had hummus over eggplant and crispy paella (no Mexican food tonight):

After dark we walked through a lovely jardín to our hotel. On the way we found another toy seller…

…and aromantic couple having their wedding pictures taken.

Day 20 – Querétaro

Last night we followed the illuminated mile-long ancient aqueduct that adorns the entrance to this World Heritage City.

Downtown Querétaro is full of andadores (pedestrian streets) that connect the many important sites and lovely jardines.

The museum of Querétaro explained to us the important role of this region in the Mexican independence movement. It also has a fine prehispanic display.

We tasted a sample from a tortilla making machine that processes 52 kilos of masa per hour!

At the Plaza de Armas we joined a loud bride and groom parade:

For dinner we had a well deserved crispy vegan pizza after having walked all day enjoying this jewel of a city.

Day 19 – Cadereyta de Montes

We woke up in the lovely mission town Jalpán de Serra. Our hotel bathroom had this friendly reminder posted on the mirror: Flush the toilet, put trash in its place and wash your hands!

After a Chilaquiles breakfast we drove to Cadereyta de Montes, one of the magical towns, where we met a group of friendly Harley Davidson enthusiasts.

We then visited the outstanding Jardín Botánico Regional de Cadereyta.

In the afternoon we checked out Peña de Bernal, at 433 meters it is one of the tallest monoliths in the world. The town itself was delightful.

Finally we arrived in Querétaro, tallying a total of 120 miles of driving for the day.

Day 18 – Xilitla

Today we started before dawn and walked down 600 steps to another open pit cave called Hoya de las Golondrinas. We waited at the mouth of the cave until 8:30 when the swifts finally started spiraling out of the cave. They tied us one at a time so we could lean into the pit and look. It was an unforgettable experience to see and hear these tiny birds choreograph their way out of one of the deepest caves in the world.

After breakfast we drove to Xilitla, stopping in Tanhanhuitz…

…and Axtla de Terrazas…

…where we bought famed Beto Ramón natural products.

In Xilitla we explored Edward James’s Las Posas, a surrealist garden in the midst of a jungle. It is crisscrossed by a beautiful arroyo that has been dammed for bathing. Our guide explained the eccentric structures and habits of its creator. We loved this crazy and special place; pictures just can’t do it justice.

Afterwards we drove to Cadereyta de Montes (100 miles today).

Day 17 – Cascadas de Tamul

Continuing our expedition through the Huasteca Potosina, we found a guide to row us against the current to observe the Tamul waterfalls. It was a pleasant ride, although when we got to the viewing rock, we had to wait for a turn, quickly take our triumphant photos, and even more quickly get back on our lancha to let the eager group of Catalan tourists have their chance.

We stopped to bathe in a mysterious cave on the way back.

While swimming we met some Chilangos who explained to us that as non residents of the capital city we can only drive into it between 10 pm and 5 am!

On our return, our vegan feast was waiting for us at Tanchachín.

We decided to drive to the Sótano de las Huahuas, an open air pit cave 60 meters in diameter and 478 meters deep. Over a million white collared swifts dive into it every evening at dusk. A lovely young lady escorted us. She instructed us on the proper etiquette for swift viewing.

We walked back up the 900 steps to the parking lot, and drove to Aquismón for the night.

Day 16 – La Huasteca Potosina

This morning we took a tour of the restored Palacio San Agustín in San Luis Potosí…

Hall Safe, Cincinnati.

We immediately left for la Huasteca Potosina, where there are several natural wonders.

We first visited Tamasopo waterfalls, with great infrastructure, raised boardwalks and restaurants. They were powerfully beautiful.

Next we went to Puente de Dios, a series of waterfalls with caves. Mark ventured into the cave byclasping a rope.

Mark almost stepped on this tiny snake.

We stopped in Ciudad Valles for the night, and had fabulous squash and nopal gorditas and a caldo at La Abuelita.

We had driven 200 miles from San Luis to Ciudad Valles.

Day 15 – San Luis Potosí

200 miles stood between us and our destination today. Before we left Guadalajara, though, we had to make one final stop in Zopopan.

Selling home made remedy to a friend:

Zopopan is an attractive town with beautiful pedestrian streets that has been swallowed by Guadalajara, like Tlaquepaque and Tonalá have. Mark’s favorite were the fresh sugarcane slices. My favorite was the umbrella lined street.

Once on the road the landscape became arid again. We scheduled a stop in Aguascalientes for a late lunch. Another lovely provincial city, with a Sanborns (a department store chain found in many cities) conveniently located in a gorgeous old building on the main plaza, where ate pasta and nieve de limón, and walked around a bit.

This photo reminded me of a Van Gogh sky dotted with Magritte clouds:

We arrived in San Luis Potosí after dark but still were able to enjoy a pleasant stroll around the plaza where we had dinner and listened to the carrollier play Ode to Joy. The well preserved ancient buildings were lit to great effect.

People were strolling around and enjoying themselves by the hundreds on the pedestrian cobblestone streets. There was even a group of young people filming a movie while we ate dinner! We walked up to the gazebo which reminded us of that scene in Sound of Music we love: Sixteen going on Seventeen. Mark loves to remind me that he is older and wiser then me! Wonderful evening…

Day 14 – Tequila

Today’s goal: 32 miles to Tequila, another Unesco World Heritage site, via Amatitán (not Amatitlán!), but not before enjoying delicious bowl of oatmeal with berries.

On the way we visited the ceramics museum in Tonalà, where historic and contemporary pieces from the area can be admired.

Local pharmacies on a price war…

The road to Tequila is dotted with gorgeous blue agave patches.

At the main plaza we saw flying performers who climb up a 70 foot pole and then tie themselves to a rope and slowly “float” down to the ground.

We bought some woven agave souvenirs and headed for Casa Sauza, a beautiful hacienda that served as a backdrop for the agave cutting demonstration.

We saw the barrel ageing process at La Constancia.

Afterwards we went to La Perseverancia, where the Difusor (a drying contraption that shortens the production process and gives them an advantage over the competition) is located.

On the way back we headed towards Tlaquepaque, but followed the wrong crowd and ended up instead at the Feria Ganadera (livestock exhobition). It was like a county fair with lots of rowdiness, loud bands, restaurants, cattle and beautiful horses.

We enjoyed it very much. Marquitos chatting with El Chavo:

Here is one man band without arms playing the harmonica and keeping beat with a tambourine attached to his foot:

We de-veganized ourselves to taste the típico suckling goat.

Afterwards we attempted a visit to Tlaquepaque. It was too crowded so we didn’t stay long.

Day 13 – Guadalajara Tianguis

Today we had a pleasantly late start, grazed on buffet food and strolled through the hotel’s garden.

We left for the Tonalá Tianguis (weekly street market), hoping to find huaraches, blown glass goods and ceramics. We didn’t, but we talked a lady selling drinks into parting with her Tepache barrel!

We ate mushroom tacos at a food stand on the plaza and for dessert: tiny strawberry and cajeta gorditas. Next we stopped by a quirky antiques and flea market where I found some gangas (deals).

We went downtown and had a capuccino on the plaza while listening to romantic live music.

Then we rode a horseless electric carriage on a sunset tour of Guadalajara.

We had dinner on a balcony overlooking the plaza.