Red-Hot Resources

"Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned.”

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guanajuato Day 1

If you were playing along at home yesterday, and trying to guess the town I'm visiting on the first leg of my trip to Mexico, that town is Guanajuato.

Guanajuato is an important city in Mexico both historically and mineralogically. Here is the view from the airport. See those mountains? They're stuffed with silver.

Guanajuato comes from the name the indigenous tribes had for the area -- Quanax-juato - "Place of Frogs." I haven't seen any frogs so far (it's only my first day).

The Valenciana silver mine located near the City of Guanajuato was one of the richest silver finds in all history. In the 18th century this mine alone accounted for 60% of the world's total silver production. Guanajuato is very proud of its mining heritage.

There are statues of miners, like this one, along the roads. But mining isn't just a heritage in Guanajuato. There are ongoing silver mines, and potentially much, much more to find. That's what I'm going to go check out today.

Yesterday I spent most of my time trying to get squared at the hotel (more on that later) and sightseeing. This being Mexico, you can't walk down the block without tripping over a church ...

So, that's not unusual. But how about a castle, or Castillo, eh? This is the view outside the window at the end of the hallway ...

Guanajuato is a mix of new and old -- and downright ancient like this castle. There are brand new buildings next to ramshackle structures that look like they haven't been painted since my grandfather's day.

Not everyone lives in the Ritz, of course. In fact, this being a mountain town, neighborhoods are a series of buildings clinging tenaciously to the hillside.

Man, I'd hate to get to the bottom of that hill, then realized I'd forgotten something.

Guanajuato is famous for a lot of things. Me being me, and this being my first day, I had to check out the mummies!

People buried here can end up naturally mummified, but no one knows how the process works. If you're too poor to pay for a burial, after 5 years they'll dig you back up and put you in the mummy museum.

Today I'm on to more serious stuff -- checking out a local miner with enormous potential.

Oh, wait, I forgot my hotel. Well, the elevators don't work, and they don't believe in washcloths or clocks (they do believe in nice towels and comfy beds). And the Internet access didn't work in my first room so I had to switch to another one. I repacked in such a hurry that I forgot my hairbrush in my first room, so now I get to spend the rest of the trip looking like the wild man of Mazatlan.

Why not just ask the staff to find the brush? The staff, while very pleasant, has about 10 words of English between them. It's their country, so I can't complain about that, but obviously I can't recommend the hotel to English-speaking tourists, either. There are other hotels around here if folks from the USA want to come see this beautiful town.

What can I recommend about the hotel? Well, it's new and very clean and very energy efficient. The lights won't work in my room unless I stick my key-card in a slot in the wall -- so when I'm out of the room, the electricity isn't running. That's a huge energy savings. First time I've seen that.

Also, the food is excellent. Dinner was so good I'm really looking forward to breakfast.

Good food, a place to sleep, and internet access -- that's all I need. Anyway, who cares much about the hotel when I have a historic city and incredible mines to explore.

I'll be writing more about it, so stay tuned.


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