San Miguel, Guanajuato & Aguascalientes
We made it to San Miguel and after some major frustration with the narrow one way streets, found the one RV Park that is in town and got settled. This park was part of a tennis courts park and has about 10 spots for rigs less than 30’ long. There were four other rigs there but one was only parked, not occupied.
Many “gringos” come here for long term stays and take Spanish lessons while here. There are lots of shops that cater to them/us (?) and things seemed a little pricier than many other places we’ve been. We had heard many good things about this town, and have to say we were a little underwhelmed after San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas. We had considered staying an entire week when we planned this out, but left after two nights.
We did go out for a real pizza dinner (one perk of catering to us gringos!) the first night, walked the town the second day. The el centro has, of course, the usual churches, museums, famous homes and finally a nice mirador that overlooks a good part of the city but had too many trees to see everything. There is a large lake near San Miguel which you could see from the mirador as well. We left after Doug’s weekly conference call on Tuesday morning. We are still up at some decent altitude and the weather is cool at night although not as cold as our morning near Durango. The only issue we had getting out of town was a low hanging cable above the street. Fran got out and held the cable up over Tigger while Doug drove under.
Next stop was another colonial town called Guanajuato. This town is notorious for narrow streets and tunnels that some RV’s cannot fit into (we heard of one RV that had an inflatable raft on the roof and it got stuck!). We were advised to park outside the el centro and walk in. A fellow in San Miguel told us that often there was a tourist information guy outside the town that will flag you down to direct you to this city’s one RV park. While we didn’t meet that helpful guy, we met one who began giving us directions and then a tourist guide van came along and offered us a driving tour of the city. He offered to have us follow him to a safe parking area at the train station (without low hanging tunnels) and then we joined the tour.
So we spent the afternoon on this mini tour which included three museums (we only went in one as the other two did not interest us), an experimental silver mine, a church, and some shops that sell local sweets and liquor, and silver jewelry from the local mine (?) and finally a mirador with spectacular views over the entire city.
The tunnels here are left over from the mining days and were widened to accommodate vehicles. There are even intersections, tiendas and parking in them! You could easily get lost down there and apparently your GPS will not receive a signal to get you out.
The most interesting, yet morbid, site was the Museum of the Mommies. It seems that this area has soil with a high alkali content which preserved many bodies that had been buried directly in the ground, all without caskets, except one. When they were first uncovered, many were claimed by their families but those not claimed, became exhibits in this place. Many still have hair, shoes and clothes. They have a several rooms with glass display cases and little placards with their history noted on them.
This town was quite nice, less touristy than San Miguel but much more confusing to drive into. We ended up asking the same information guy we’d met earlier, to direct us to a spot we’d found in iOverlander for free camping. He drove a motorcycle and led us there. It was parking outside the Governor’s palace. There is security there and after dinner the traffic quiets down and we were snug and warm in Tigger.
Aguascalientes is a much more modern city although it still has an “el centro” historic district but sites were a little more spread out. This is a main transportation hub and the toll road to get here was pricy. But it did save us over three hours of driving. We parked behind a hotel that has five RV pull thru sites, a pool, great Wi-Fi and hot showers.
The hotel gave us a city map and off we went to explore. We saw many plazas, the governor’s palace with lovely arches and murals, nice shopping streets and, of course, more than a few churches. We checked out the Museum of the Dead, which is the national museum is devoted to the Day of the Dead celebrated on November 2nd. Unfortunately, nothing was in English at all so we (mostly Doug) tried to translate some but mostly we just looked at the exhibits. Another museum we did check out was the Museum of Jose Guadalupe Posada, the artist that does the comical death figures, but here it too was all in Español and appeared to be mostly about the art of printing cartoons, no his artwork.
After lunch we walked the other direction and saw a lovely Almeda (a park that is in between the two opposing lanes of traffic that was nicely done with changing cultural decorations. This month it was China and we saw many pictures of sites we’d seen when we were there back in ’04). This led us to the Thermal baths that we’d expected and had read on trip advisor as being quite good. Their website describes the water as healing and 40C.
Unfortunately, we were quite disappointed. Although the price was right (less than $8 for the two of us) and we were given a private bathing room, the water could not have been more than 22C. We lasted about 15 minutes (we were given an hour), and packed it in. We opted to take a cab back the 3 miles to the hotel (cost less than $3) and relaxed before we made dinner.
We have taken to eat many dinners of tortillas with vegetables, our own homemade guacamole and sometimes shrimp or fish. It’s a quick easy dinner and we can add whatever veggies we find in the markets. Grocery shopping so far along our journey in Mexico has been fairly easy; many of the bigger cities have Wal-Mart’s, all have either a Mega, Leys or Sorianna which offer good choices and prices. In the smaller places we hit the tiendas that sell groceries but don’t always have everything in one store but we manage. There are also the fresh food stalls to get fruit and veggies.
The weather the past couple of days has definitely been cooler than the coast and cloudier although we’ve had no rain as yet. We’re wearing sweaters to walk around and it’s chilly when we get up in the morning in the rig. The first few mornings (as in Durango) we put the furnace on to get the chill out of the air before rising but the last couple of days have been somewhat warmer but still not sunny and hot.
(sorry no pics in this post; internet was super slow when I created this post – please check the galleries at your leisure)