Travel Blog 15: The State of Guanajuato
Leaving San Luis Potosí, I entered the state of Guanajuato, venturing into Dolores Hidalgo first. Creativity filled the city with performers juggling on street corners, self-made crafts flooding the markets, and chile rellenos popping up a lot more. I am always down for that!!!
As day turned to night, I drove to the various (ioverlander traveler app) overnight parking areas for Dolores Hidalgo. One was a grocery store parking lot, which would’ve been fine, but meh. Another was this beautiful overlook about 3 miles outside of town, but many of the reviews said police escorted the van-lifers to the fútball field for safety purposes. I decided to avoid the police interaction by going directly to the fútbol field, but I couldn’t find it. It may have been closed for covid. I wound up asking the municipal policia what they suggested. They said I couldn’t sleep in my car in the city for my own safety. I mentioned the Parador Turística, the place police escorted other road sleepers away from. The officers nodded their heads before escorting me to my new home for the night, where I looked down on city lights and woke to a gorgeous sunrise over the desert mountains. The officers even returned to check on me in the morning. I felt very protected!
Driving from Dolores Hidalgo to Guanajuato City was beyond beautiful, an unexpected delight. Every twist and curve introduced me to another set of gorgeous mountain view’s. I was blown away. Then I reached the big, hilly city to be disturbed by intense traffic, no parking spaces, vicious speedbumps (“topés”... I get to know these things well), and tight roads full of people while battling a red zone status for covid. I didn’t even exit my car. I drove through, catching a glimpse of Guanajuato City, before filling gas and continuing my way to San Miguel de Allende. My major highlight came halfway between the two cities in a small village when I met a woman drinking a Michelada between her work shifts. She spoke English and we jived perfectly, lifting my energy. I ate a delicious quesadilla while sharing funny stories about my travels in Mexico.
San Miguel de Allende is an active place, full of bikers and joggers managing the steep streets. With few options to turn around, I wound up driving up one of these unforgiving, massive hills to discover a whole new neighborhood in the city and another Sunday market. I ate nachos!!
Finding a parking spot in the center of the city forced me to drive in circles, following a traffic line, but I finally found one. It was legit too. The guy running the storefront beside the curb assured me I’d be good to go. I went for a two hour walk around the city, visiting the cathedrals, the various plazas, and several markets. San Miguel de Allende feels like a maze, choosing random streets to see what connects. With a smile on my face, I returned to Blaze to see a ticket on the windshield and my front license plate removed. The store owner said he never saw the police and believes I’m in a legit parking spot. Now irritated, I had to go find the station, which had a line of four others. The guy in front of me spoke English, asking, “Did you get a ticket in a legal spot too? Seems to be a thing here. Not much to do but pay it.” I felt reassured that I wasn’t the only one. I stepped to the window to find out the ticket cost $8USD. When they handed me my plate back, I saw a cabinet full of hundreds that were never retrieved.
My last stop in the state of Guanajuato was San Jose Iturbide, a fantastic little sleeper town. On the way in, one of the obnoxious “topés” rocked Blaze’s world, forcing me to stop at a gas station to check for any noticeable effects. After giving Blaze a body scan, I cruised through the village to find the ‘Hotel Mansion de San Jose’ for $30. I decided to stick around, walking to the center several times. With few foreigners, I was able to gain a full grasp of the community’s energy. I had a fantastic night in my hotel, cooking vegetables and relaxing with a tall Heineken can for 20 pesos ($1). The state of Guanajuato is amazingly pretty to drive through, full of cities with grand culture, and an outdoorsy perspective. While I wish I had more time to spend, my mission transitioned to reach what had been labeled, “the most special area in Mexico!”