Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guanajauato, Mexico -- Today

Today we rose at the crack of dawn. We had business downtown, early. I hit the shower after the wife. There immediately occurred a Typical Mexico Operation or TMO. The hot water was suddenly and without so much as a "by your leave" gone. I do not do cold showers.

After a quick wetting of my hair and screaming bloody murder, we dressed and quickly prepared for departure to downtown Guanajuato. Before I could pick up the phone and order a cab, we heard the distance roar of the gas truck. You know it is coming by the hideous, ice-cream truck tune that it plays endlessly on loud speakers bolted to the cab of the truck. Normally, you want to shoot the speakers off the truck with a canon but today we seized upon the opportunity.

I stood ready at the bedroom window to screech at the truck just in case the wife didn't make it down to the street to hail it. I chose this as my contribution to the "getting of gas ritual" since I was mostly naked and it just would not have been right for me to be seen on the street. What rigid logic I have.

Cindi successfully hailed the gas truck and soon we had gas but no time for me to bathe. I had to get to the hospital for a blood test so off I went with sponged out pits and a wet but dirty head.

I was able to be seen almost immediately. That was a plus. The tech who drew my blood did not wear gloves. She did do an extensive disinfection of her hands chemically, though. That was ok because I knew if I asked her she would have said there aren't any gloves. If I insisted, she would have shrugged her shoulders and walked off. I knew better so I kept quiet. I've live in this country for seven years. I know when to shut my mouth.

At least I will know where the hepatitis came from.

Next, as a reward for having been drained of some of my blood, we went to breakfast. We tried a new joint which I highly recommend: Casa Ofelia.

This used to be on La Paseo de la Presa. Now it is is downtown and the location was enough to convince me this was a place to spend my money.

In the old location the price of your meal included not only good food and really good service but the noise level that only Superman would have been able to withstand and enough carbon monoxide that would be sure to give you blood clots (which really happens, by the way). The place was right on the street and you could never hear yourself talk with your dinner partner or your food would taste like it was prepared and served in a mechanic's shop.

Now on the street, Calle Truco, it is quiet, the food tastes like food and not bus exhaust, and the service is Super Friendly.

For $184.00 pesos, we had the greatest omelets, a bucket-sized glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, bread (lots of it--pan dulce costs you), coffee Americano, and did I mention marvelous service? We loved it.

As we were enjoying the pleasure of fully extended bellies, a nice looking middle-aged Gringa-looking woman came in and sat near us. She leaned over and asked where we were from. Ashamedly, I must confess that I normally rattle off something in Spanish so as to thwart any Gringolandia contact. I know, I am evil. But, she seemed so nice and had a warm and engaging smile that we talked with her.

The poor thing was in a bit of a snit that she could not get anyone in the service industry in the city to speak English.

If we had a peso for how many times we've heard that.

She went on to lament that she could not hire tour guides or find any tourist info in English. This is, if you've been following my blogs, the usual expectation of the Gringo, the American gringo which is what she was, who comes here. They sincerely have this idea that because English is so widely spoken in the resort areas (including SMA) that it will be everywhere else. They get a shocking revelation when coming to GTO.

Actually, there are some tour guides who do speak English (usually not well). You have to check with the tourism office if it is open. Otherwise, you are on your own.

Another interesting thing: When we moved here in 2003 the tour guides operated on a propina or tip basis. Now apparently, they've organized or syndicated and have loose (very loose) pricing structure. After our encounter with the woman in the restaurant, whose breakfast we had to practically order for her, we went to El Jardin and talked with some guides. We heard anywhere from $100.00 - $200/00 pesos for a tour.

This is not a bad price. They have families to feed and they really are very entertaining in their guides mostly making it all up as they go. You will never hear the same info twice.

I really don't get why people do not buy a guide book. Lonely Planet, which is not terribly accurate, is better than nothing.

We took our leave of El Jardin, checked the mail, bought some milk, then caught a cab home.

Maybe it is not a terribly exciting adventure but it is our life TODAY in Mexico.

Until next time.



2. A WALK THROUGH MEXICO'S CROWN JEWEL - A Guanajuato Travelogue


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