We landed in Mexico City around lunchtime and made our way to the North Central Bus Station. I speak freshman Spanish, which is almost none and three hours into this particular adventure I have yet to hear a word of English. I never go to a country assuming they will speak English to me, ever, but it would have been helpful in getting on a five-hour bus ride to North Central Mexico. We were off to explore rural Mexico!
The bus was as comfortable as a public bus can be, and we arrived, quite uneventfully, at the Guanajuato GTO bus station in the cold, dark night. We waited far too long for a taxi. Therefore, I found myself opening the children’s luggage on the sidewalk to dig for warmer clothing. Poor weather tends to follow me on my adventures. More specifically, “We never have weather like this,” tends to follow me everywhere I go.
What we found the next morning was pure magic. Guanajuato, Mexico is a very happening tourist destination for Mexican tourists. It’s a beautiful colonial city, full of color, art, and history — young, vibrant college town. Theater and museums greeted us on every corner, and we fell in love. There is an endless amount of things to do and see in this hidden gem. Our favorite place in Guanajuato was the Mummy Museum! Hundreds of naturally preserved mummies tell a stunning story of the local history. My boys could not get enough, there was something amazing around every corner.
Guanajuato once produced 75 percent of the silver in Mexico. There are numerous tours showing off the mines and hundreds of miles of tunnels to explore. We chose to go into the Valencia mine, and it was amazing, but even more breathtaking was the Valencia church in the square — absolutely stunning! Valencia as a whole — the mine, church, and shops — was the best surprise of the entire area for us.
If you’re ready to travel, here are some helpful tips for exploring rural Mexico.
- Taxis are incredibly cheap. Take them.
- Go to the mercados (markets).
- Eat on the streets from food vendors.
- Barter. It is perfectly acceptable to barter.
If the opportunity arises for you to tour a local farm, be part of a temazcal ceremony, or go horseback riding, then you should definitely go. There is a lot of beautiful country to see and some incredible hiking to be done.
Don’t Drink the Water
It is true that you cannot drink the local water, but what I meant by this statement was along the lines of “it must be in the water” type of theory. We drank the metaphorical Central Mexican water and we adore it. We found ourselves surrounded by friendly, smiling people that were only strangers for a short amount of time. The city is just big enough — though it is a large city. We were able to find our way around quickly and easily, and we made friends almost immediately. Our largest struggle was the language barrier, but we are working hard to remedy that for future trips.
You can wander the colorful, music-filled streets for hours, never getting hungry and never feeling lost. If you find yourself in need of a special treat, make your way to the Diego Rivera museum. Guanajuato is the birthplace and childhood home of Diego Rivera (Frida Kahlo’s husband). The museum is lovely, but the true treasure is the children’s library connected to the museum. It is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, especially if you follow it up with Tutu’s Ice Cream, located just around the corner.
Courage and Color in Rural Mexico
Leading up to our trip to Mexico I received emails and messages almost daily from people expressing their concern about our safety in Mexico. I will not lie — despite my typically bold, fearless nature — reading so many emails from the doubters began to affect me. I am delighted to say that I did not feel unsafe in Mexico, not a single time. It was perfectly safe during both the daytime and nighttime hours. If you do nothing else this year, please push your media-driven fears aside and plan an adventure that would have previously terrified you. Go for it. You won’t be disappointed.
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Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury