Saturday, July 8, 2006

Medallions of Mellado

I learned something new yesterday. Up til now, the entire trip, I’ve never obligated the kids to come “sightseeing” or to leave their interests. That has now changed. I told the kids yesterday they had no choice; we were all going for a drive to see some sights. I had no idea where; I wanted to go up and drive through a couple mines and some templos, but other than that, I had no agenda. Well, I’ve been dying to visit some museums in town, but figured yesterday was not the day for it.

We started the afternoon with a visit to the first mine in Guanajuato. The boys were instantly attracted to a large wide low circular stone wall and immediately found one of the largest mineshafts in the WORLD. This mine, Minas Rayas, was discovered in 1550 and the shaft grew to 1400 feet. The mine is still being worked; it seems both the Mellado and the Rayas mines are now one and I don’t think the Mellado is still being worked. We found beautiful ruins of what I think was a church on the mine grounds and some of the most spectacular miradas of the town of Guanajuato yet. This doesn’t seem to be a terribly touristy area; there was one vendedor of rocks and minerals but he was completely uninterested (as were we) and preferred to stay on the opposite side of the street from his display, chatting with his friend. We then walked up to the plaza of Mellado where an ex-convent, church in the process of restoration and tranquil plaza awaited us. Spanish rap echoed about the ruins of the ex-convent as out at the church, the restorers were hard at work on the roof. We wandered about the ruins, spying glimpses of frescos from behind closed doors, views of the mountains and city and listening to the quiet until we were satisfied.

Out behind the plaza of Mellado we found a playground and the neighbor kids lost no time introducing themselves and initiated the boys in the finer points of futbol. This was their first foray into any sport and it warmed my heart to see how much they’d grown. Last year, they were tongue-tied and uncomfortable and unhappy when kids would approach; lacking language to communicate perfectly. Yesterday they played, changed teams, swapped in and out as goalie and let their teammates know they needed to rest. Jamie and I sat on the “sidelines” and shouted “gooooooooolllllllll” at each goal.

With the sucess of the incredible mineshaft and the kids at Mellado, we pressed on to one of the many ex-haciendas here in Guanajuato. This one turned out to have a torture chamber in the basement and the boys and I had a graphic introduction to the ways of the Spanish Inquisition. I’m hoping it wasn’t too disturbing for them; we had a guide for the hacienda and no doubts were left as to the reasons for the jails, chambers, thick stone walls and instruments of torture uncovered within the hacienda. Definitely NOT the tranquil 17-garden hacienda we enjoyed earlier this week. I left quite disturbed but Jesse LOVED all the armour, swords and daggers.

We finished up the day with a trip to downtown (literally, DOWN the mountain) and stuffed our bellies with tacos al pastor, bistek and various aguas for the incredible price of $13. We watched “old” couples dancing salsa on a wide spot of sidewalk near a bus stop, we walked and watched and enjoyed the nightlife and somehow, quite by accident, managed to join absolutely everyone in Guanajuato leaving town at the very same town. If Guanajuato were not already my most favorite town, it would be now. The city if full of vacationing Mexicans and not only do they take some of the attention away from we most obvious gringos, but they and their kids are so fun to interact with. Mexico is known for its tranquil state, but vacationing Mexicans are the definition of tranquil.
The boys have now decided that when Mom makes them come with her, it will generally turn out to be a good time. They said they still might protest, but agree that going along, even when they don’t want to, will probably actually be a good thing. Who would have thought? Mom was right about something!

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