With 3 hours to kill between Spanish classes at Escuela Falcon, Lydian and I try to find sights to see in Guanajuato. When I say “try” it’s not because there aren’t plenty of sights, museums, and cool activities in Guanajuato. I don’t know if we’d ever run out of things to do here, but finding them is the hard part. Don’t misunderstand me though. I thoroughly enjoy the search and corresponding surprises embodied in our afternoon meanderings. Guanajuato is a city that invites visitors to wander and enjoy the journey as much as the destination and I really love that about this place.
Yesterday, we set out to find the Museo del Pueblo because it was close to the Spanish school and after the prior day’s hike through town, we felt like we needed to go someplace more accessible. Lydian, age 13, took the map and the lead. She fearlessly crossed streets and led me around. I told her that I had lost faith in the stupid map and I wasn’t going to use it anymore except to establish general locations and directions of things. She clung tenaciously to it, however, checking it religiously and then setting out with a furrow between her brows, each time in a new direction (we had to start over at least five times).
At the beginning of our afternoon adventure, we stood beneath a yellow building and a green directional sign that pointed toward the Alhondiga, Dolores Hidalgo, and another nearby city. I looked up at it, just above my head and said, “That’s not helpful really…unless we’d like to just give up and go to the Alhondiga.”
“No.” Lydian said, “I can do this…we can find the Museo del Pueblo.”
Opposite the yellow building were steps that extended upward toward a very gothic-looking structure, the University of Guanajuato.
“We could go see what’s in there.” I proposed sarcastically.
“Uh…no thanks.” Lydian chuckled. We’d save those stairs for another day.
We passed the stairs and started our walk. “Let’s try this way.” Lydian said after consulting the map. Then, “Let’s go that way.” Flustered, she sighed heavily, pulled out the folded up mess of streets and looked at the 2 dimensional rendering of them.
“Lydian, if you gave me that map and a pencil and told me You Are Here I couldn’t even draw my way out of this mess of streets without hitting a dead end and getting stuck. I don’t know why we’re still trying to use it.”
She laughed and had to admit that I was right. It was totally useless to use a map in a city with as many trap doors and dead ends as Guanajuato. Walking along the street, every now and then, people disappeared underground into labyrinthine tunnels that led who-knows-where. I told John that it felt like playing Legend of Zelda. At every turn, there was something new to be discovered. If only my poor body didn’t wear out at the end of a 5 hour power-walk, I’d never get tired of wandering through this city.
We went up. We went down. We went around and backwards. We stood on street corners and stairwells. We stood underground. We were confused. Elated. Discouraged, intrigued, and tired. Finally, we found Del Truco.
Del Truco is a street in Guanajuato. There is nothing special about it whatsoever except the fact that it is labeled on our printed map.
“Ah HA!” Lydian exclaimed. “Del TRUCO!”
The street curved around and met up with another set of serpentine streets in an entirely different neighborhood, or so it seemed on the map. “Did you know that del truco means ‘trick’ in Spanish?” She
asked me. Were we at the beginning or at the end of the street? We weren’t sure. Initially, we considered this question pragmatically, but couldn’t help but laugh at the philosophical nature of it.
Step by step along the cobblestone walkways we continued, smelling the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked breads, rolls, and other treats as we went.
“Ohhhhh, that smells good.” We said to each other. “mmmMMMM…” People hovered around the panaderia. We don’t eat bread anymore or any wheat products, but smelling bread is still an intoxicating experience.
Del Truco intersected with another street and Lydian confidently turned left. We walked up a big hill and then turned again to the left.
“Oh my God.” Lydian said. “There it is.”
I looked down the hill at the exact spot where we’d started our official search for the Museo del Pueblo. The yellow building, the green sign with words Alhondiga, and Dolores Hidalgo, and the steep staircase leading upward for an eternity to the University of Guanajuato.
“What?” I said. I didn’t see it. “Where?”
“Look!” she pointed.
And there it was. A small wooden sign in the shape of a family crest with the words Museo del Pueblo just above the green sign that I’d pointed out 2 hours before.
“See…” Lydian said as she headed down the hill toward the museum with a wry smile on her face and chuckle in her voice. “I told you I’d find it!”