Sunday, January 04, 2009

Guanajuato Bus Tour

I do not like bus tours. But this man on the streets of Guanajuato sold me a $100 peso ticket for a bus tour. "Be back here at 1:30," he said. Lucky for me I was able to retrace my steps back to "here." At 1:30 he said, "Come back at 2:30." (This was all said in Spanish for the vendor did not speak English.) There weren't enough people for the 1:30 tour.

At 2:30 the tour began, and what a tour it was. We wound our way up a very crowded, very narrow road, to the top of a mountain and into a store where they sold jewelry and gave a lecture about the silver mined in the Guanajuato area. Our next stop was a candy store where local candy was sold. The next stop was the priest, or bishop's, torture chamber it was well hidden in a nunnery for two hundred years or so until it was discovered in the 1950's. The man of cloth found various and assorted ways and means to torture property owners until they either died or turned their property over to the church.

We then toured a silver mine, and then onto an old casa that was done in a poor version of a disney haunted house,

The tunnels were our next destination:

"The city was originally built over the Guanajuato River, which flowed through tunnels underneath the city. However, after years of raising buildings to accommodate repeated flooding, in the mid-twentieth century, engineers built a dam and redirected the river into underground caverns. The tunnels were lit and paved with cobblestones for automobile traffic, and this underground road network carries the majority of cars driving through the city today. It is one of the most notable features of the city." - Wikipedia

We must have travelled through every tunnel in Guanajuato. By the time we finished the tunnel tour it was dark. Up the mountain again to view the city at night.

There was, if passengers chose, one more museum to explore. Most of the passengers got off the bus. I followed. Those who wanted to explore the last museum stayed on the bus.

My dilema was this, I didn't know the bus would leave and the passengers who got off the bus would be left at the top of the mountain. My fellow passenger, who spoke a little English, was tired and forgot what little English she knew. I was tired and forgot what little Spanish I knew. Earlier in the day we were able to communicate quite well. But, now our ability to talk to one another was lost. She was urgently chattering to me, trying to tell me something, lord only knows what.

I went back to the bus. The tour guide was of no help. She couldn't speak any English. A passerby tried to translate, and failed miserably. I insisted on getting back onto the bus.

On the bus a young man who could converse well in English explained that although we were at the top of the mountain there was an elevator that could take people to the centre of town. If I didn't want to go to the last museum of the bus tour I could take the elevator.

I wanted a cab back to my hotel. The elevator route seemed my best choice. I got off the bus explaining to the tour guide I didn't understand, and now I did. ("No se, ahora lo se" - I don't know, now I know - the only verb conjugation I've sort of mastered is present tense)

There was a long line for the monorail that would take us down the mountain, not really an elevator. I stood in line for a long time, then realized I needed a ticket. I left the line; bought the ticket, and the people in line kindly saved my place.

The taxi I took back to Mision Guanajuato was driven by a man who did not speak English, but he nicely pointed out that he understood me. He thought I spoke Spanish well enough. Some people understand me, some people don't. Not much different then when I speak English.

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