The kids and I have been in Guanajuato (GTO) Mexico for 16 days now and tomorrow we will hopefully be catching a bus to Mexico City to begin our journey back to North Carolina. Guanajuato far surpassed any expectations that I could have dreamt of. We love it here. The boys want to stay forever. We have made some lifelong friends and likely would make more out of the locals if we stayed.
This Mexico trip was a foot in the water to try out a longer abroad stay and learn some new things from fellow world schoolers. The world schooling summit itself left a lot to be desired. Honestly, I will probably not attend it again unless it’s ridiculously close to me. I did however learn about another summit that is ran by someone I highly admire that I would really like to attend in the future, but the summit that brought us to GTO did three things;
1) introduced me to some incredible people
2) opened my eyes to some new ways of living and very new ideas
3) brought me to a city that I may otherwise have never ventured to
That is all I am giving the summit credit for the rest was GTO in it’s entirety and the most incredible population of people I’ve ever met. Everything about the people here screams happiness. They ALL smile at you. They ALL talk to and touch your children. They ALL engage you in conversation despite neither of you speaking the other’s language. The love of children here is so loud and cherished here that it blows me away every single time.
When we were climbing out of the mine, I was wearing atlas on my back, and a man said to me “you’re climbing out with the greatest riches of all, solid gold in the weight of children.”
The people are so genuine. They truly try their very best to help you. They greet you. They acknowledge and speak to you and your children with ease. There is so much the American society could learn from the Mexican people, especially in regards to how it views it’s children.
There were lots of lessons learned this trip. Some small ones like letting kids sleep. Some larger ones like the dire need for a kitchen and the need for a lighter weight backpack, but if I were to write you a guide to Guanajuato it would look like this;
1) Valenciana is over looked and it was one of our favorite places. GO.
2) Eat foods that you don’t recognize and ask waiters and chefs for recommendations if you aren’t sure.
3) Walk the streets and alleys and stairwells for endless hours with no particular destination in mind.
4) Bring things that make the altitude more comfortable for you (i.e. lotion, chapstick, conditioner).
5) Tour the mines, as many as you can they are all different.
6) Ride the funicular to El Pipila just because it’s fun.
7) If you can catch music in the gardens GO.
8) Eat Mexican bbq.
9) The Diego Rivera museum is over rated, but the children’s library inside is superb and tutu gelato down the street is divine.
10) Go to the Mercado hildalgo and take in the views from the second floor.
11) The mummy museum is very touristy, but an absolute must see.
12) If you can walk you should. There are so many shops, people, alleys that you miss entirely from inside the taxi.
13) Speak to everyone who makes eye contact with you, which will be almost everyone.
14) Eat street food and eat in restaurants that look questionable they tend to be the best.
15) If your mango juice is served in a resealed reused old coca-cola bottle it will be a thousand times better than what you can find at the store. Drink it. Better yet when you see juice in reused bottles, order extra.
16) When you see other American looking people wandering around, say hello, ask how they are enjoying GTO. You can go days here without hearing English and on the days that the language barrier is excessively present you will carry that familiar vernacular with you and enjoy it.
17) Alley of the kiss, though small and uneventful, is the most precious spot. GO. Kiss each other, kiss your children and if you’re at a loss for a set of lips there are plenty of locals within a close proximity willing to help a sister out. Say yes and go.
See a more rural side of Mexico if you can. There is so much beauty and adventure to be had here. So many phenomenal people to learn from. Ask questions, play the game of soccer, ride the donkey, do whatever it is you won’t regret it.
Our return to Mexico is still to be determined, but it will happen. It will be for much longer so we have a better chance of learning Spanish. It will be in a house near friends. It will involve Spanish speaking school. It will involve immense volunteering with regional women. The biggest lesson I learned on this trip by far was to NEVER BUY A ROUND TRIP TICKET. If time is not a factor for you then do not put a time restraint on your exploration. I am kicking myself for giving us such a short deadline to get back to Mexico City when we would rather be with friends south of here watching the monarchs migrate.