Guanajuato and Cervantino

The first thing I thought when I got to Guanajuato was ‘Wow! What an atmosphere!’. The streets were packed with people, street vendours and performers. Lights and food kiosks everywhere!

I made my way to the hostel thanks to the directions of many tourist info guides that were very helpful. I quickly got settled in and went out looking for some food. I picked a place from the Lonely Planet guide book, which I kept visiting for the duration of the trip.

Later that night I wandered the streets a bit trying to find this one performance I was gonna see. Now this is the time to mention that Guanajuato is home to Cervantino-an international arts festival. It all started small, with a few local performances all to do with Don Quijote and Cervantes, and grew into an extremely popular international festival drawing artists from around the world.

So, the first thing I saw was acrobatics meat clowns. A skinny, bendy guy and a strong girl doing all sorts of felixbility and strength tricks while joking. It was fun! A good start to the evening.

Then I made my way to the other end of the city, to a place called Pastitos, and waited for the next performance to begin. I was stupid enough to go out wearing shorts and slippers, and was freezing soon after I sat down in the park. Eventually I found a way to keep warm, and that’s exactly when they told us that the performance is best seen from the middle of the square.

The performance was worth the wait. It was done by a German theatre called PAN.OPTIKUM. The whole performance was about football. Pretty boring, I know! But they way they did it was amazing. Very simple and creative. By no means cheap though.

The stage consisted of 4 separate squares that all moved. There was a band. Constant motion, cool visual and sound effects. They took advantage of the whole square-moving, climbing, jumping, singing, rolling, going in circles, hanging from the metal frames. They did it all. It is hard to describe but luckily I have video.

The finale was magnificent. The trainer was locked in this hamster like wheel running around. Around him the 3 ladies were spinning around him and around themselves. Behind them a bunch of fireworks were lit. Around them also. They came from everywhere. Very close to their backs, heads,arms. And if that’s not enough, they let hundreds of white doves into the sky.

A great performance, one of the coolest I have seen.

Right, the next day I went around, exploring the streets of Guanajuato. I took several of the local buses to get places – I enjoyed riding them, they were cheap and I didn’t feel like walking at times. I visited the Mummuy Museum, where they told us about the tombs they use to burry the dead. That´s where I got the idea to look for a cemetery and see tem with my own eyes. That´s why I climbed this hill, thinking that the cemetery was at the top. It turned out to be a church, called ‘Santuario…’.

I went to the market, and took a bus to the outskirts of the city in search of Templo de Valenciana. The church itsels was beautiful, both inside and out. The walls were covered with golden carvings and wall size paintings of Jesus.

A string quartet was practicing for the nights performance and I got to listen to them a bit. An opera singer was also practising with them. It was very nice, the location was stunning.

Next day I got up nice and early (well, that was the plan at least) and took a bus to visit Cristo Rey. A 20 meter statue of Jesus, about 25km away from the city. Again, the trip there was fun, for some reason I really enjoyed the run-down local buses. Everytime, there was a bump on the road, they all made horriffic noises threatening to fall apart at any minute. The city buses had so much trouble changing gears, and barely crawled up the hills. Anyhow, back to Cristo Rey-the bus-tank made its way to the top and there wasn’t anything too exciting to see. The sort of temple was an ugly, concrete building lacking imgination and creativity let alone spirituality.

I’m not gonna go into details as there are none really. The views were pretty and that’s about it. What was interesting though were the numerous families making there way to the covered areas near the statue to….camp! Now, when I first saw one family, I thought they were living there because they were poor. But then all these well to do families, well dressed, well groomed started coming up, children running around, elderly people being helped out up the stairs.

Then I saw people kneeling at one end of this marble path leading into the temple. Again, well to do people. I didn’t have time to ask what they were doing, but it looked like they were on a pilgrimage.

The reason I went to see the statues, and which probably explains the above is that it is situated in the very middle of te country. And having Christ in the middle is a big deal for Mexicans.

Off to the bus station and a 6h ride to Queretaro.

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