Not Just Another Day Trip
There is work to be done at FIL, the largest Spanish language book fair in the world, held each year at the end of November in Guadalajara, Mexico. Fortunately, I don’t have to do any of that work and just get to tag along with my children and enjoy this beautiful, warm, rich with culture city, soaking up all it has to offer.
Guadalajara; birthplace to the Mariachi band, the beautiful, Poinsettia plant and a very dear friend.
Our first trek to Guadalajara was when my daughter was two. My son had just turned five. The English-speaking Mexican gentleman who was sent to the airport to pick us up by the hotel we were staying at, was named Ernesto. A day or two after our arrival, we ventured out, taking a cab to and from city sights, by nameless drivers who spoke no English and left us feeling, well, less than comfortable to be honest.
We decided to call Ernesto back after that and ever since.
Over the years, nine in fact, we’ve come to know about Ernesto and his family through his easy-going manner, his protective nature toward my children, dinners we’ve insisted he join us at and long conversations during the 5-hour drive we take to Puerto Vallarta half-way through our trip. His information on history and historical sites is endless. He insists on teaching my children new Spanish words each time he sees them. He has a medical degree and has even prescribed medicine for my son and daughter when we needed it. He raced Hannah and I to a private hospital when Hannah fell off a monkey-bar two-years ago and fractured her wrist, comforting me with the knowledge that this is where he would take his children.
Last year, for the first time,we met Ernesto’s entire family.The idea of our children meeting and hoping they would make the important connection of just how unique this friendship is, despite the language barrier was heartwarming to say the least. It was the highlight of my trip, a real treat to put the names to the faces of those people we had heard so much of. I could tell it meant a lot to Ernesto too.
We’ve been to many places with Ernesto, our guide and our friend; the zoo, the Children’s museum (Trompo Mágico), horse back riding in Ajijic, visiting Lake Chapala and the Guachimontones Pyramids to name a few.
This year Ernesto proposed a day trip.
Not just any day trip but a 3-hour drive to Guanajuato, a colonial mining town rich in silver and gold. This historical city is known for its architecture and naturally mummified bodies. The mummies were discovered between 1865 and 1958, when the law required relatives to pay a tax in order to keep the bodies in the cemetery. If the relatives could not pay this tax, they would lose the right to the burial-place, and the dead bodies were disinterred. Ernesto’s proposal, also included his family. Delighted, we accepted and last Sunday Ernesto rented a large white van and we all set out to explore the city of Guanajuato, together.
Most of the thoroughfares lie beneath the city’s narrow cobble-stone passage ways amidst an elaborate labyrinth of underground road tunnels. Thankfully, for us, Ernesto is an extremely skilled driver who knows exactly where he’s going!
Guanajuato is also the home to the Festival Internacional Cervantino, which invites artists and performers from all over the world as well as Mexico. Luckily for us, the annual Madonnari side-walk, chalk festival was fully under-way when we got there and we were able to see some awesome drawings…..
No, this was not just another day trip and while my children may not remember everything they saw in Guanajuato last week, they will never forget that we went with Ernesto and his family.
It was a special day that is now a treasured memory. You can’t put a value really on the feeling of safety or trust or friendship and while it’s true we are all diamonds in the rough in our own way, some of us sparkle just a little bit brighter than others….
Photo Credit #1-5: Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com
Photo Credit #6: Mummies of Guanajuato
Photo Credit #7-14: Karen Szczuka Teich & http://www.takingtheworldonwithasmile.com