In December of 2015,
Joy and I went to Guanajuato, Mexico to attend my friend's wedding as
well as see old colonial Mexico. Guanajuato is located in Central
Mexico, and it is about 3 hours north of Mexico City. The state
is relatively safe compared to some of the states to the south which
have drug violence. We flew home to Sacramento from Las Vegas the
Sunday before we left after visiting my family for Christmas.
That night, we drove down to Livermore to stay the night at a Courtyard
Marriott so we did not have to get up that early to fight the morning
traffic from Sacramento to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
On Monday morning, we
took off for San Francisco International Airport from Livermore, and
the traffic was very light since it was a holiday week still. We
got breakfast at an IHOP in San Mateo before heading to the
airport. Since my company lets me pay for airport parking with my
Fastrack Toll Transponder, we just parked my company car at the Long
Term Parking Garage and took the shuttle to the airport. Our
flight to Los Angeles was on Delta Shuttle, which is a new service
between SFO and LAX using Boeing 717 aircraft. They even gave us
a small healthy snack consisting of some crackers with hummus and
veggies. Our short flight into LAX gave us about two hours to get
lunch at the airport before our connection to BJX or Del Bajio
International Airport otherwise known as Leon or Guanajuato
International Airport. Delta Connection which is operated by
SkyWest flew us there in a CRJ-700, a small jet.
After arriving at the
airport and clearing customs, I called the Hampton Inn by Hilton in
Silao with my International iPhone that I use for traveling overseas to
pick us up. They sent a guy into the terminal with a placard with
my name on it to greet us. I was surprised at how clean the
airport and surrounding areas were. They upgraded us to the
"master suite" since I am a Hilton HHonors Diamond member. The
master suite had a living room, bedroom, and 1 and a half baths.
For dinner, we ordered in Dominos since we were pretty tired. The
best part of the meal was the Mexican soda. They use real sugar
in their sodas down there. I was able to watch Monday Night
Football too, but it was in Spanish.
The next morning, our
car service arrived promptly at 9:00 AM to take us to San Miguel de
Allende. They brought a new Toyota Corolla to pick us up
in. The drive took about one and a half hours from Silao.
After arriving into San Miguel de Allende, we had time to explore the
city before the rehearsal dinner for my friend. We checked into
our boutique hotel, the Hotel Tierra de Sol y Luna, and we found the
charm of the hotel to be very nice. It was well decorated, and
the staff was friendly despite not knowing much English. I had to
use Google Translate to talk to them. San Miguel de Allende is
truly a beautiful city. It is representative of old Colonial
Mexico. The whole city is practically a UNESCO site. We
even found a Starbucks to get a drink at in town. There are
really good restaurants in the town too. The city is built on a
hill so the trek up hill is a lot of work, and we only did that
once. The hotel pays for one taxi ride back each day. The
taxis are very cheap however. Overall, the costs in Mexico were
pretty low compared to the US. Also, the exchange rate was in our
favor too. There are lots of foreign tourists in the town, and
there are also lots of ex patriots that live in the city. I heard
that 20-30% of the town's population is made up of foreigners. I
felt like Joy and I were in an episode of House Hunters International
during this trip. It was just amazing walking around this
colorful town and trying the local foods.
We had a fun rehearsal
dinner the night before the wedding at another boutique hotel.
They served pozole which is a Mexican soup with chicken and hominy
corn. In addition, they brought chilis and other veggies on the
side to put inside the soup. We were also served some great
guacamole with chips as well as flan for dessert. There was a ton
of tequila also. Moreover, we had a drink called "ponche," which
is like a punch made from boiling various fruits together. One
can add tequila to it too. It is served hot like cider.
The next day, Joy and I
took a nice walk around San Miguel de Allende again. Walking down
from the hotel to the main square was not a problem since it was down
hill. We had to take taxis back up however for around 40 pesos
(which is approximately $2.25). The wedding started around 1:30
so we made our way to the cathedral before that. The wedding
lasted until midnight! They have a nice church service in the
main cathedral. Afterwards, we walked from the church to the
reception area through town. There was a huge parade with a
mariachi band, donkey, horse drawn carriage, and even two large
puppets. They gave us hand made pottery cups to put around our
neck so waiters could fill tequila in it while we walked through
town! I was so buzzed by the time we go to the reception
hall! LOL. They had nice appetizers and margaritas for
everyone when we got to the reception area. Afterwards, we went
into the outdoor hall where the dinner was served. They had
traditional Mexican dancers perform for us as we started dinner.
Afterwards, they had a live band, and there was lots of dancing and
partying until the early morning hours. There was a ton of
tequila also. Moreover, they had fireworks! It was just
such a beautiful wedding!
Our private car service
and tour guide arrived the next morning to take us on a tour of the
Mexican Independence Trail from San Miguel de Allende to Dolores
This car service was really good. The driver spoke
English very well, and he was very knowledgeable about the historical
facts. It cost us about $200 US, but I think it was well worth
it. He showed us the first church in San Miguel de Allende before
taking us to another church on the outskirts of town. This church
was once a fortress also during the Mexican Civil War. Since it
was around Christmas time, people left candy inside the church for Baby
Jesus. Apparently, there are pilgrims that come to this church to
flagellate themselves with coarse ropes and whips to be closer to the
suffering that Jesus endured. We toured the little shops outside
the church too, and we bought some local Mexican goods like a
mochahate. A mochahate is a stone bowl like thing with a stone
pestle that is used to ground things or make salsa.
Afterwards, we went to
Dolores Hidalgo. Dolores Hidalgo is where the Mexican
Independence movement was born. A local priest called the people
to arms against the Spanish on the steps of the main church in the
city. Although independence was proclaimed in 1810, Mexico did
not become independent until 1821. I asked the tour guide a lot
about the history of Mexico. Particularly, I wanted to hear his
take on the Mexican-American War and the Texas Independence War.
In 7th grade, we took Texas History, and we were taught about the Texas
Independence Movement, and how Texas became a free nation after
defeating General Santa Ana at the Battle of Guadalupe Hildago.
The guide said that Santa Ana is not held in high regards in
Mexico. We saw a monument dedicated to the war once we arrived in
Dolores Hidalgo. Afterwards, we were given a tour of a pottery
factory. Dolores Hidalgo is known for pottery. Afterwards,
we were shown the church where the Mexican Revolution began.
There was a nice park across from the church too. We also got to
taste some local homemade ice cream also from a street vendor.
Afterwards, we had lunch at a fast casual chicken restaurant in Dolores
Hidalgo. It is kind of like El Pollo Loco, but the food was way
Our driver took us to
Guanajuato next. The drive through the Sierra Madres was
beautiful, and we stopped at a famous church once we got into the
area. Guanajuato is known for silver mining, and it was a very
prosperous area of the Spanish Empire in the New World. They
built this church with real gold on a lot of the walls and decorations
inside the church. After we saw the church, we headed to the main
area of Guanajuato. Since the roads are so narrow, they built a
network for underground roads beneath the city. It was pretty
cool to see how this underground network of roads was planned
out. There was a river underneath the city before that was
diverted a while back to prevent flooding. Afterwards, they were
able to use the caverns that were made by the river for these roads.
We got a nice walking
tour of Guanajuato from our guide. We saw another cool church, an
opera house, university, and even a mummy. The soil around
Guanajuato can mummify bodies easily. As a result, there are lots
of natural mummies around that area. The weather was perfect too
for our visit. After the walking tour, we drove up to an scenic
overlook of the city from a hilltop. There is a statue of a guy
who helped win a battle against the Spanish during the Mexican
Independence War on that hill too. Guanajuato was very colorful.
Afterwards, our guide dropped us off at the airport, and we flew back to Los Angeles on United Express before we connected to another flight to San Francisco. We actually spent New Year's Eve in the air, but we were so tired that we did not feel like partying much. Our flight was delayed too. I ended up ordering a bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, and that was about all the alcohol I could take. We took a taxi to our hotel in South San Francisco after arriving since we were too tired to get my car from the garage. In the morning, we took the hotel shuttle back to the airport to get my car so we could drive back home to Sacramento after a nice visit to Central Mexico!