Guanajuato! Awesome people! Lots of color, great food & coffee, perfect climate and “Life”!

What a great weekend in Guanajuato!  There are a lot of tourist here but they are mostly Mexican.  People are friendly.  There is a lot going on.  Lovely food everywhere.  Easy walking wherever I want to go.  Comfortable large bed.  Hot water for shower.  And really good coffee.  What more could I ask for.  Oh, the weather is perfect as well, can’t forget about that!

Loads of color!

I heard during my tour yesterday that San Miguel de Allende is only allowed three colors for their homes.  Here, that clearly is not the case.

Every pueblo I have visited has been great.  Each has unique qualities and each has served me well.  In Guanajuato, it’s easy to walk everywhere.  Of course, it is hilly so be prepared for that.  

I started out wandering out of the hostel, taking a right, walking up hill and then discovering a series of stairs going up and up.  My sense was that it would be difficult for me to get lost as I could just walk down hill and find my way.

Sure enough, I came out beside a church.  Walking downhill on these little cobblestone streets, around a corner, through a tight alley and there was the hostel.

Nights are cool.  Days warm up but haven’t gotten hot for me.  Lots of blue sky.  Friendly people every (maybe because I am).  

During the daytime, the colors of the houses really comes out!  

Walking history and food tour

I got to have lunch with my friend Tim Leffel whom I’ve met via the internet.  He wrote a book on living abroad for half the cost which I got through a program I participated in.  He recommended a walking tour with the company he started.  It was amazing!

Our guide, Laura, was perfect!  Not too much information, adjusted the flow to the group (two of us) and had very interesting knowledge about the hostry and the food!

Walking, eating, learning, sipping coffee, eating more, learning some more, perfect plan for me!  If you get to Guanajuato or know people coming here, I highly recommend it!  Mexico Street Food Tours.

Today, I walked up to the area Laura recommended, sampling food again from the places we visited yesterday!  It was not particularly early for me but things seemed to only be getting started around 9:00.  But when I came back, it was packed!!!

Coffee anyone?

Once again, I’ve been blessed to find good coffee.  A place was recommended to me.  I found it and was sitting there sipping a cortado when I heard someone call out “Larry”.  Curious to see who would respond, I looked to see Tim standing on the steps.  This is where he buys his coffee!  I’ve been to a couple other places but this is the best for espresso drinks for me!  They texture really good milk and the espresso is excellent!

The shop:  Cafe Tal.  The translation wasn’t working when I visited but you can get an idea of their professionalism. 



Friendly people!

It is rather amazing how seldom I see people walking around glued to their phones!  If they are on the phone, they are using it as a phone!  That is a bit different for younger people but they are hooked up to music.

I don’t know what this culture is thinking!?  They ACTUALLY like connecting with each other!  Me included!  I stopped for a man on crutches trying to navigate a drive to the sidewalk.  He wobbled a bit and I placed my hand on his back for support.  The entire family demonstrated deep appreciation!  

WOW!  I really miss that depth of connection when I’m in the US.  This morning, I walked into a hostel I saw while walking up to the parque.  It looked new, was in a quiet neighborhood and I thought it might be a great place to chill for another day or two.  I spoke to the woman working there while about 8 or 9 people were sitting at the table.  As she asked me to follow her up to look at the rooms, a man at the table and said to me in English, “You speak very good Spanish!  Good for you!”

When I came back down, we talked more.  He’s a dentist in Los Cabos.  As we talked, I shared some thoughts about how much Mexico has changed in the last 30 years since my first trip.  However, I said that the people are just as warm and friendly, that hasn’t changed!

He pointed to the end of the table to a woman who had spoken to me earlier.  She is his wife.  In Mexico, dentist really want to build connection and relationship with the people who come into their office.  That woman was a patient and now is his wife!  He expressed dismay that connection in the US is often surrendered in the interest of making more money.  I told him that is often true but I’m grateful for the dentist I work with!  His office is great and I feel connected with him!

In this culture, people touch each other!  Husband and wife, son and daughter, daughter and father, etc.  That behavior is normal!  Often, I’ve seen three people walking arm in arm down the street.  Sadly, we have lost that in the US!

Night time beauty

Up and down, up some more.

I’ve walked up and down the hills here watching colors change and looking for photo opportunities.  From the top of the hostel and the hills, I’ve seen lots of color.  Here are a few of the photo’s I’ve captured.

The Beatles and Bob Marley were on to something!

What the world needs now is LOVE.  

Caring about people.  Smiling!  Being friendly.  I realize that I do that every day when traveling.  And that is the energy that comes back to me.  Friends and friends of friends have often asked me if “such and such” place is safe.

What I’ve come to be clear about is, it’s really up to you!

If you are stern looking, suspicious, avoid eye contact, are generally unfriendly, for what reason would anyone want to approach you?  But if you smile, make eye contact and say hello, that is the energy you put out so it’s the energy you get back.

By all means, do follow your gut!  I’ve started walking down streets that didn’t feel safe so avoided them.  I had friends ripped off outside a club in Vietnam.  The joked about it happening because they were temporarily stupid.  Warnings abound about the scams and pick pockets awaiting any tourist leaving late and even partially inebriated!  They didn’t pay attention, took their camera and had their picket picked.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a great camera and they only had a little money.  But it was a lesson and they will be more alert next time!

Today, I saw this story about a neighborhood taking back their community in Chicago.  Same idea!  Click here if you are interested in learning about what they are doing to grow their community, click!

A direct link to them:  I grow Chicago!

For an inspiring version of “One Love” from the “Playing for Change” project using artist all over the world, click here for the video:  One Love.

Ciao!

Serendipity and Nature!

Right place, right tine and magic happens.

Travel is full of unpredictable experiences!  For example, until you visit the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia in Mexico City, you have NO idea how overwhelming it can be!

So you have to adjust!  And often that comes in the experience itself!

Similarly, travel planning requires an overview for me!  And then, it’s crucial to let go and flow.

When I arrived in San Miguel or when I read about it, I never heard of a botanical garden.  

It occurred at the perfect moment.  Travel is best for me when there is a balance.  Balance dormitory stays and meeting lots of new people getting a private room and some inner quiet.  Balance between the excitement of exploring cities and their history with time in nature breathing fresh air and walking slowly!

Otherwise, I get exhausted and out of balance!

Listening required!

I’m practicing some form of qigong and meditation every day.  Connecting to inner quiet is as important as breathing and eating to me.

From that place, I listen!  Making plans can be mental.  Feeling is kinesthetic.  The moment I heard about the gardens, something inside me resonated.  I made plans to go that afternoon.  And I was amazed the the dimension of the place!  It was HUGE!  I walked for several hours!

Peaceful, quiet and fresh, a lovely walking meditation!

Learn more about it here.

Rescued plants here might be extinct otherwise.

Stop running, listen for balance!

Surprising or normal??   Busy, busy, busy, doing and doing.  No space for magic?  Sad life!

I overheard a conversation yesterday at a coffee shop about sales.  They were talking about competition, winning and losing, increasing sales, who would like it, how to introduce the two options (giving an artificial feeling of choice).  That sort of approach requires CONSTANT attention and energy.  There is little to no connection to internal motivation or bringing out the best in people!

And there wasn’t a word spoken about why they do what they do or what they love about it?  Being busy, pushing to make things happen, trying to control things is exhausting!

Human “doings”.  I prefer human “being”!

In my world, serendipity happens so often, I’ve come to feel surprised when it IS NOT happening.  I love living in a world where it is normal rather than a rare!  And where I know it is up to me! 

Yesterday morning, I found a place near my hostel for breakfast and met a lovely couple from outside Toronto who just moved to San Miguel de Allende.  They make their own coffee’s and have a 20-year-old La Marzocco they are getting wired into their home!  Coffee talk for me, perfect!  Really nice people!  Then the owner of the restaurant talked with me and asked me what I did?  As I told him he wanted to know if I was speaking in San Miguel?  Why Not?  Next time, I want to hear you.

With a little extra time, I walked to Ki’bok coffee for one last peaceful moment on their roof top with a great coffee.  As I mentioned where I was going, I received a written note of two lovely small villages outside Puebla to visit!  Awesome!  (PS…Ki’bok was included in this National Geographic story!)

Packed, I headed off walking to the bus station.  Arriving early, they put me on the bus leaving in five minutes!

In Guanajuato, I had no idea how to get all the way into the central area to my hostel.  First, I needed the bathroom.  Lacking change, I put in 10 pesos.  

Through the turnstile, a man approached saying something about “cambio”?  The machine gave me change!!  I had no idea?!?

Curious for my future schedule, I asked him if there was a bus from here to Puebla.  He heard “pueblo” and guided me outside to a spot a few steps away where a bus was arriving.  It will take me to the central area for $15 pesos, less than a dollar.

And on, and on and on….

Stay present and keep listening!  Magic happens!

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Filling in San Miguel de Allende blanks!

La Gruta Pool

Listening!  So important in every moment of life.  I had at least three or four people tell me about La Gruta and that I should visit there.  Advice was different from each but, I listened, went early and had a lovely morning soaking in the hot springs!  

There is a SPA there!  And a temazcal!  If you are interested in seeing their photo’s and reading about it, click here!

Walking onward young man!

Whether it’s a factor of wealth or something else, I was surprised by responses from people around the idea of walking.

People told me it was very far to walk to Atotonilco from La Gruta.  My taxi driver pointed out the road when we went by.  He said it was a very easy and nice walk.  When I told the guys at the hostal that I had walked.  “YOU WALKED” all the way?!!!  In flip flops!?!?!?  It was a short, quiet, natural 15 minute walk.  Once upon a time, walking was a normal mode of transportation in Mexico!  

Having done NO research, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to Atotonilco.  My friend Bonnie gave me some great tips…Thank you!  

The chapel was simply amazing.  It is referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.  And once inside, the reason was clear!  I got a little light headed from looking up!!

Read about it here.

Below are a few views.   See, amazing really!

Lunch and luck!

I checked and no Uber worked in the area.  There were occasional taxi’s at La Gruta and I saw one in the village.  

Hungry, I went to the Mama Mia’s pizza place Bonnie recommended.  It was sensational!  And the environment…tranquil and nourishing!

Below are a few photo’s.

Leaving, I stopped at to talk with the attendant at the gate.  Thinking I would walk all the way back to the highway to find a taxi or bus, he told me there was a bus in the village!  Just a 5 minute walk to the store.  And the bus came in 20 minutes.  Perfect!

 

Here’s a link to information on Mama Mia’s.  You can translate it.  Click here!

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Bon Voyage San Miguel de Allende!

Short story as I’m packing, it’s late and I leave in the morning.

Absolutely stunning morning here!  Perfect! Not hot and not cold. No wind.  Not raining!  And very few people at the hot springs when I arrived.

Travel options

There have been times when I have had to follow a budget and go as inexpensively as possible.  And then times where I don’t feel I need to watch every penny.

I’m not “penny watching” extremely on this trip.  I could have stayed in the dorm for $11 but opted for the private room for $17.

Since I wanted to get an early start, I used Uber to get to the hot springs.  And of course I would get a man who lived in Aurora, Colorado for a while!  Cost of transportation was $115 pesos…or just under $6 US.  

I had a cup of coffee there that cost half that.  I walked to Atotonilco from there, saw the church often referred to as “the Sistine Chapel” of Mexico.  Amazing!

From there, I walked out of town to Mama Mia’s for lunch.  It’s in the country and I was the only guest.  So peaceful and quiet!

Coming back, I waited in town for the bus which cost $15 pesos, less than $1 US.  

Below, one photo from the church there.

Got back, picked up laundry, rested for a bit and then headed out again with my camera!

Giant "Mojigangas" at the music.
Vendor carrying hats.
Spontaneous and lively music.
A church image.
Mojiganga walking down the street.
"Oso", the bear in the clouds.

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And now, it’s late, off to bed.  One final morning here and then I’ll be exploring Guanajuato!  

I will post some links for places I visited here for those of you who would like reading more about these places. 

Ciao!

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First evening without rain in San Miguel de Allende!

I walked…and walked….and walked some more today!  Left around 10:00, had breakfast with Barbara and Thelma then walked to the top of Parque El Chorro.  Lots of steps up and up!

Started my day at Ki’bok coffee!  Photo below.  Anyone care to join me???

Back at 5:00, then an evening walk

Back at the hostel, I dropped off laundry around the corner and headed off with my camera for an evening walk.  It’s the first evening here without rain and the color and light was spectacular.

My area:  hostel one block from the plaza.  Cost for single room per night, $17.50.  Laundry will be ready tomorrow:  $2.25.  Pozole and a beer for dinner:  $6.50.  Uber ride to the hot springs tomorrow:  $3.00.  Affordable:  quite!

 

I’m pooped, here is a brief glimpse!

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Evening walking Queretaro

Surprise around the corner.

My final evening in Queretaro, I headed out wandering with my camera.  I did find the church where the thorns grow in the shape of the cross but the courtyard was closed.

My plan, turn left and walk!

There was one area I hadn’t explored much.  And Jesus, a man at the hostel, had recommended the area for night photo’s.  So off I went!

I hadn’t expected to see so many women wearing lovely dresses and men in suits but apparently that is what happens on Saturday night.

One surreal moment happened in front of the steps to a church.  A person was sleeping in front of the doors, apparently homeless.  A few meters away, a couple, seemingly not wanting to deal with parking, had a driver picking them up.  Wealth and poverty feet apart.  What makes the difference?

I left Queretaro yesterday and am now in San Miguel de Allende.  I saw Barbara and Thelma yesterday.  Thelma will be 98 in December and was in the same assisted living center as mom.  

This morning, I saw my friend Bonnie for coffee.  It’s always inspiring and very real spending time with Bonnie!

I’m now going out to explore and realize I could certainly use more time to see everything here!  

Now that I have been here, I know how easy it is to get here!

Ciao!

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Surprising coffee here!

A quick search for coffee showed a spot near my hostel.  It was late, too late for coffee, so I stopped so I would know where it was in the morning.

That morning was yesterday and my experience was exceptional!  Alejandro explained the different coffees they had, which was best for chemex or aeropress and the blend they use for espresso!

WOW!  I was impressed.  He pulled a shot for my cortado, took a sample by spoon handle, didn’t like it and started over!

They have such a clear intention to learn, make good coffee, learn some more and serve the best product possible to their customers.

Normally, I have to add a little sugar to a cortado.  This one…definitely not.  Even as it sat and cooled while I was reading, it stayed smooth!

 

And it happened again

Alejandro recommended I visit Koffein.  My Yuni at the hostel makes coffee several times a day.  Her sophisticated equipment, utilizing what is available, it a pot of hot water.  

The people at Koffein know a lot about coffee, and could help me.  Perfect!

 

On my way there, I came across V60.  Inside, I asked some questions about their coffee.  Once again, I was shocked by how much they knew about coffee and how willingly they shared!!!  For this small town to have so many knowledgable shops is remarkable to me!  And, they all seem remarkably open to learning more!  I’m going back later for a coffee at V60 as he has a special blend to make for me with an aeropress!


And then there was Koffein!  Alejandro recommended them for their experience.  And he was right!  The barista got excited as I asked her what coffee she recommended.

Then we smelled and talked about options.  And then we picked a strong one for Yuni and she gave me a free sample, enough to make three batches!  

Of course I had to order a cortado for myself.  Once again, the sugar sat unused!  Smooth strong coffee with low acidity and very nice body!  So lovely!  

Here’s their facebook link:  Koffein.

And now, off for coffee and lunch!

V60 Coffee Lab update

Wow!  Did I have a nice coffee at V60 Coffee Lab!  Ludwig made me an aeropress of a red honey processed coffee.  Sooooo smooth even as it sat for several minutes.  What enthusiasm and passion for coffee they have here!  He shared a  taste of a Chiapas cold brew they have which was very different from the aeropress and still great!  See the concentration and focus in his photo below!

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Amazing historic area in Gueretaro!

I’ve been very impressed with this city!  I’m staying in the historic central area so outside areas are probably very different.  

The central area is cobble stone streets, polite and courteous drivers, walking everywhere, huge range of food and dining options and very friendly people.

Hours walking yesterday!

For roughly five hours, I was out strolling around town.  First stop, Apothecarvis Cafe for amazing coffee.  More on coffee shops later.

The night before, I read through the map and highlighted places I wanted to visit.  However, once I started walking, wandering through new streets and looking at the architecture, the plan went out the window!

So far, this is one of my favorite cities in Mexico!  Peaceful, safe, friendly people, huge variety of foods, more friendly people and easy to walk!

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Exploring day in Queretaro!

Short walk yesterday turned long!  So much to see here.  Pedestrian streets set up for vendors last night.  

 

Amazing variety!

Food and architecture and everything in between.  There is so much variety here! Hamburgers, sushi, pizza, bakery, coffee, chapulines (grasshoppers) and more.  Original architecture, Spanish architecture and so many monuments in such a small area.  

There are 1,400 monuments in 203 blocks over 4 square kilometers!  Amazing!  The tourist map highlights 33!  I’m going walking and discovering today!

Different cities in one location

Coming in by bus, the first thing evident is the sprawling expansion of identical looking houses.  Hillsides disappearing.  Hill tops with what appear to be high rise office buildings being constructed.  This was pretty evident at sunset last night.  I made a video on facebook showing the view.  

Yes, I have found good food!  Prices are all over the place!  Simple taco’s for $20 pesos, about $1.  More expensive, a Oaxacan restaurant here with great looking meals for $250 pesos or roughly $13 US.  Of course, it’s about $5 more with a good Mezcal!

 

Near the Plaza in Queretaro
Fresh bean and cheese burrito's.
The market near my hostel.
Hostel Hammock

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Interested in learning more about Queretaro, click here.  And there is an English translation on the website.

Ciao!  Going walking, exploring and looking for a good coffee now!

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New Adventure Unfolding

Early 4:25 am pick up, quick ride to the airport and “zoom-zoom”, off on another adventure.

Disorienting but adjusting!

Benito Juarez airport is very disorienting for me.  It was better this time!  However, the first part of any travel is disorienting!

New culture and climate.  Tired from travel.  My mind is wired for English but I must adjust quickly to listening to and hearing Spanish.  New part of the city to find my way through to a new hostel I hope will be very nice!  

Breathe!  Stay calm!  Walk slowly!  Be still inside!  Above all, keep smiling and enjoy the experience!

You Can’t Get There From Here!

Wandering out of customs and immigration with my pack.  I asked directions and found Telcel and got a sim card for my phone.  Cost for a month:  $10.  Then I went looking for ADO, purchased a ticket for the next phase of my travel and got oriented to the bus gates.  Finally, I was ready to leave and head to my hostel. 

Totally turned around and disoriented and looking out the window at a wide and very busy road, I had no idea where to go?  Several different conversations were not helpful.  “Lejos!  No caminar!”  Translated:  Too far!  Do Not Walk!

Even with my pack, a 30 minute walk sounded like good exercise after sitting.  It was longer because of me having to backtrack several times.  And, I made it!!  I found you CAN get there from here (that applies to so many things in life!).

Interesting that from here, they showed me a different way that will take 10 minutes!

I had dinner at a “closed” restaurant, the family offering to feed me anyway.  Hostel staff is really friendly!  I’ve met a lot of interesting people and received recommendations for places and experiences!  New friends from Bolivia, France, Vancouver area, etc.  And I haven’t been here 24 hours!

I will say this, LOVELY HOSTAL!  Staff is really friendly and happy.  They are very kind and loving with each other and with all the guest.  Great choice!  

Today, resting day.  Getting into travel rhythm.  Be flowing and easy with things.  Organizing & writing a bit and reading.  Tomorrow, I’m off for a new “Pueblos Magicos” and a few days of exploring.  

Ciao!

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