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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tamales, Mines, Museums, and Tequila

When I last left off I had just visited the Hospital de Plaza Mayor. Shortly after that, I had arranged to meet with Pedro, another Guanajuatense Couchsurfer. Pedro had a car! He also brought a friend of his along, and the two of them brought me to this amazing and famous restaurant which no tourists go to, called Tamales Purepecha.

I have no idea exactly how we got there, but one of my Spanish teachers, Vicente, confirmed the next day that it was the best place in Guanajuato for traditional food. They had all types of tamales, I had the one with strawberry in it which was very very good, and then a quesadilla con flor de calabaza (with squash flowers in it). To polish that off, we had champurrado, which is like a hot chocolate drink with atole in it (a corn based porridgy thing that gives it texture). Ultra yum. And no tourists sighted. And though Pedro speaks English, his friend did not, so the entire night was spent speaking in Spanish only, which was great practice. He insisted on treating me to dinner, and then took me on a lovely driving tour of parts of the city that are more uphill that would have been quite difficult for me to get to on my own, including the beautiful Paseo de la Presa neighborhood, and something that closely resembled a castle but which was a hotel, and all the ambassador´s homes. It was really super nice of him and an experience that none of the other students at my school had had.  :)

I have spent almost no time alone; the other students at the school have been so friendly that I have done all kinds of stuff with them. The next day after school I had a private medical Spanish tutoring lesson with Carolina who was the mother of one of my teachers at the school, and she taught me some stuff I didn´t know which included "me hace un corraje" which is used to signify that getting upset and/or angry has no doubt caused some GI distress. Then I was supposed to go on a tranvía (tram) tour with some other students which didn´t actually happen as the tourist office here is fairly lame. Andres and Susan and I ended up going to the Mercado Hidalgo instead (the lovely old market here which sells foods and a few souvenir items) and eating some tostadas de camarón plus some cerveza Victoria.

Walking back later with Susan, we came across a complete obstruction of the pedestrian mall -- blocked by a huge dance festival which was in preparation for some other festival/celebration!  I got a great spot to stand and watched amazingly costumed groups of dancers representing many of the different states of Mexico. I got some great photos and even shot some video!

After I parted ways with Susan, I bumped into Andres and Craig again, eating at a wonderfully divy shrimp taco place, with coconut-shrimp tacos, so I sat down again with them and tried one which was terrific.  We ended up buying some sort of random ??lottery tickets/fundraisers from some cute school children.

Friday was my last day of language school. Very sad because I loved my teachers and the other students in my very small classes. I traded email addresses with most of them and in my culture class we played the Mexican version of Trivial Pursuit which is called Maratón.

I was very impressed with myself because I got an answer right that involved knowing which Mexican woman had fostered the Revolution in her own home -- which I only knew because she was from Queretaro and there is a street there named after her! She is nicknamed La Corregidora. Anyway, Michael and I came from behind to win the game! We named our team Los Quejumbrosos (The Whiners), and prevailed against Los Mucosos (The Snot-Noses) and Los Tardios (The Latecomers). Victory never tasted so sweet!

After school, a few of us went out to El Midi, the South of France restaurant, for lunch. They had a great plum tart for dessert, after some lovely quiches which included almonds and squash in them... Then we went on a school trip which had been organized to La Valenciana mine and the nearby church as well. This was a mine that used to operate, largely silver which is what made all of Guanajuato state so wealthy, and we were able to climb down into it with hard hats. It was hard to breathe in there! And they had used slave labor hundreds of years back. No wonder why -- not sure anyone would voluntarily work in a place where they were likely to develop silicosis (which by the way is the same word in Spanish) and had to carry 100 kg weights. The church was apparently spectacular, but after I spend a few minutes in one, that´s kinda enough.