Home > Culture, Family, Friendship > Not Just Another Day Trip

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.

The Guadalajara Zoo 2004

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.

Ernesto and my children at the Guadalajara Zoo 2004

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.

Ernesto with his children and mine. November 2010

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.

Ernesto helping my son, sign-in at the Guachimontones Pyramids 2008.

One of the many mummies of Guanajuato.

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…..

Modannari 2011 – The Afghan Mona Lisa –

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.

Ernesto holding Raul. Hannah standing next to Augusto.

Dinner with Ernesto’s family & an amazing view of Guanajuato! December 2011

Priscilla – 5



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….

Thank you, Ernesto!

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

  1. December 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    How cool is that??!! Thanks for sharing Karen!


    • December 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks for reading, Karl!


  2. December 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Great photos and story, Karen.

    P.S. I love mariachi music. 🙂


    • December 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      Thank you so much, Bob! I love Mariachi too. My daughter & I came upon an all women’s mariachi band last week in a little town called Tlaquepaque. In all my years going to Mexico, I’d never seen an all women’s marichi before. It was cool.


  3. singleworkingmomswm
    December 6, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Oh, wow! WOW! WOW! Can I say…”WOW!” What an amazing experience and an incredible friendship with such a wonderful man. To be able to travel like that is such a gift, and to have the trust and security you now have with Ernesto to be able to take you here, there, and everywhere is FANTASTICO! Several of the workers from our vineyard are now visiting their families in Mexico. And, years ago I worked in Ojai, CA in a little gift shop next to a Mexican restaurant of which I became very close to the family. They traveled back and forth bringing items from home to fill the space with authentic Mexican decor. I would tell Ruben (the owner and father) all of the time…”one of these days I’m gonna jump in the van and go with YOU!” I would love to go there, beyond the gates of Tijuana…oh…to do THEIR Madonnari Festival…hmmmmmm….this artist can dream. 🙂 You know…this is why I love the phrase….”some day”. Now I get it, Karen. Muchas gracias, amiga!


  4. December 6, 2011 at 7:30 am

    You (and your post) immediately came to mind when I saw the Madonnari! I was thinking about you and Maycee. Thanks so much for the comments, Kasey!


  5. nannamvs
    December 6, 2011 at 9:54 am

    aesome,awesome,it looks like you all had an amazing trip, you certainly were blessed to have had Ernesto as your guide again, he is actually more of a friend to your family .
    great photos,


  6. December 6, 2011 at 10:26 am

    How wonderful that you have not only a wonderful guide but also a lovely friend!


  7. December 6, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Yes, RP, it is wonderful and we’re very lucky. Thanks so much for reading & commenting.


  8. December 7, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Wow! What an unbelievable experience. And those chalk drawings, how awesome are those?Thanks for sharing, Karen.


  9. December 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Yeah, it was pretty special. Thanks for reading and commenting YAW!


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