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Posts Tagged ‘independence’

By: Julio Moreno (Tour to both cities: $18 (200 MXN), or about $15 (180 MXN) in buses from Guanajuato City)

Gothic Cathedral in "San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato State"

 

Note: Info on how to get to Guanajuato city was covered in the Guanajuato Part 1, it will be assumed you already read that article and can get from your country, into Mexico, and into Guanajuato City’s bus depot OR to the Guanajuato/Leon Airport (BJX).

Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:

From the Bus depot, or airport, there is no choice but to take a taxi. From the bus depot, its 40 MXN to the city hotels (see Guanajuato Part 1 for details on where to stay), from the airport its 400 MXN (skeezy tip below). From the depot, as soon as you exit you will see someone selling tours. Thankfully, the prices don’t vary in the city, so its a good idea to get them now. If you came by plane, they sell the same tour in the city in many kiosks, especially on Juarez Street, next to the Market place (see map on the Guanajuato Part 1 article). This tour takes all day, from around 9am-7:30 PM. Once you buy your ticket, they can pick you up at any hotel you stay. They take care of explaining everything, entrances to museums, and transportation. The tour also includes a stop at the grave of Jose Alfredo Jimenez, an icon in Mexican music and a minivan is used as transportation.

Skeezy Tip #1: You don’t eat ANYTHING until you reach San Miguel Allende which is at like 5:30PM. Given you leave early in the morning, make sure to eat a lot in the morning.

Skeezy Tip #2: You often stop in shops, “authentic candy stores” etc. You don’t have any requirement to get anything. The tour guys will hype it up as the best in the region but in reality, they are paid commission and are average tasting, and overpriced.

Skeezy Tip #3: When you arrive in San Miguel de Allende (the second of the 2 major cities you will visit), they will pressure you to eat in a “spot they know”. Coincidentally, it is also one of the priciest spots in all of Mexico. You don’t have to eat there. Tell them you want to find something else, and don’t be embarrassed to say you dont want to pay for a 100 MXN buffet, especially if you’re not that hungry.

Skeezy Tip #4: The visits, although taking the whole day, could feel rushed. This is especially true in the last stop, San Miguel de Allende. You don’t HAVE TO take a tour to get here. If you want to take your own time, you can take a bus to Dolores Hidalgo (60 MXN), or one to San Miguel de Allende (90 MXN) from the bus depot. Take a taxi from Guanajuato city to the “Central de Camiones” (bus depot).

Skeezy Tip #5: There really aren’t any English tour guides, and if there are, they will surely charge more. However a British couple on our tour gave me an idea. You can invite a Mexican friend, found on sites like “interpals.net” or “couchsurfers.org” to translate for you. The couple happened to be a Mexican-British woman, and an Englishman, so she translated for him.

Skeezy Tip #6: Given the ridiculous difference between the taxi from the airport (400 MXN) and from the bus depot (40 MXN), maybe you should make the most of it. Fly into Mexico city instead, and combine a trip here with one in this article of Mexico City as that airport is ON the Mexican subway network and will save you money in the long run. Then find your way to the Yellow Subway line “Autobuses del Norte” Stop and take a bus to “Guanajuato City”. From here follow the instructions in this article and the Guanajuato part 1 article.

Church at "Dolores-Hidalgo, Guanajuato State". This is the location where Miguel Hidalgo declared independence from Spain.

Story:

Mexico’s road to independence from Spain (1810-1821) has numerous motives. Miguel Hidalgo was a priest in (what was at the time) Dolores, Guanajuato. He claimed that the Spanish crown that controlled them was an illegitimate government because at the time, Napoleon had conquered Spain and set up a puppet government. He used this pretext to give what is historically called the first “grito” (yell) of independence on Sept 15-16 (date disputed) 1810. He declared Mexico independent and went on to declare slavery abolished (take note, 50 years before the US) forming an army with them.

Inside Miguel Hidalgo's Original Church

He soon found out however, that he wasn’t the only the only one plotting revolt, as a Spanish Captain named Ignacio Allende had also started an independence movement just 25 miles north of his city. Hidalgo joined the forces of Allende and his allies Jose Mariano Jimenez and Juan Aldama, also from what was at the time San Miguel el Grande, Guanajuato (later renamed San Miguel de Allende in Allende’s honor). Together, they slowly took lots of cities, however bad planning by Hidalgo led to horrific defeat in Guadalajara. All four leaders were finally captured near the American boarder and executed in 1811, a single year after the war broke out.

Although the struggle was continued mostly by later leaders such as Jose Maria Morelos, and finalized by the treaty between Vicente Guerrero and Spanish General Agustin de Iturbide in 1821, the original four leaders were forever immortalized as the inciters and face of the fight for Mexican Independence. Every Mexican president gives “el grito” on Independence Day (Sept 16th) in Mexico City in memory of Hidalgo and once per term, stay in Dolores-Hidalgo to give “el grito” from the original church where Hidalgo did it 200 yrs ago.

The original flag of the Virgin Mary that Hidalgo carried around to rally troops. Currently in Atotonilco, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Murals inside the Church of Atotonilco, Guanajuato

While it may seem that this is more of a religious retreat than a historical one, it must be understood that religion was, and still is strongly intertwined with Mexican politics. While officially, Mexico claims to have a similar division between church and state like in the US, this is not so. It is more obvious in Mexico city which clearly illustrates the point by having the town square surrounded by the Presidential Building, the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Cathedral of Mexico City. Things like art, architecture and history are directly fused with the catholic religion.

Logistics:

Airplane info, lodging, and everything else was covered in the Guanajuato Part 1 article. Please read that

Map: San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo relative to Guanajuato City.

 

 

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By: Julio Moreno (Entrance to Monument: Free; Transportation up the mountain: $9 (100 MXN); )

"Christ King" at the top of Cubilete Mountain.

Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:

NOTE: Guanajuato is the capital city of the state of Guanajuato within Mexico. “Leon” is the largest city in Guanajuato state. Unless otherwise specified, when referring to Guanajuato, we mean the CITY.

1) By Plane:

Take a flight from where ever you are to Leon/Guanajuato International Airport (BJX) [The 2 cities share an International Airport]. From here, sadly, there is no option (as there are no buses) than to take a taxi, which will run you $33 (400 MXN) from the airport to downtown Guanajuato. Ask them to leave at whatever hotel you reserved (suggestion on a cheap one below). If you stayed in our recommended hotel (below), it is next to the marketplace, the center of the entire “historic downtown” area. While you COULD drive to the Cubilete mountain yourself, it is about a 90-120 minute drive through mountains and not really worth the gas, the rental, or the risk. The more economical and sensible thing to do is go with a tour, which charges 100 pesos to take you up there. There are many competing companies that go up every day (info below).

Skeezy Tip #1: Some of these, including the one I went on, take this trip rather late in the day in order to maximize their profits. They run a tour of the city in the morning, and then this tour in the evening. If you want to take decent pictures, it is best to go in the summer when there is more sunlight, OR demand that you go as early as possible or you wont pay. As the city is moving from arts and crafts to a tourism economy, competition is tough, so they will budge. It really helps your case however if you have a large enough group to make it worth their while.

Skeezy Tip #2: Apparently everyone in Guanajuato works for free. This is mentioned because at the end of any tour, any museum, or any insignificant walk thorough, they will mention this “fact” and ask for a tip. Don’t feel obligated if you don’t think the service was worth it as it is not a widespread custom in Mexico as it is in the US. However, most people will tip, so to show your appreciation / save face, you might want to carry some 10 Peso coins (short things), or some 20 peso bills (long tours).

Skeezy Tip #3: As a result of this being a relatively new industry, none of the services I came across had English Guides. While it is possible they exist, it is likely you will be stuck paying 2-3 times the cost of a normal tour. For this one, you really don’t learn anything too important besides the fact that the monument has been rebuilt 5 times. However, you might want to invite a bilingual CouchSurfer and get a free translator.

2) By Bus:

Take a bus from anywhere in Mexico to the Guanajuato Bus depot (the default of anyplace that says Guanajuato). As you get off the bus, there will be people selling tours to this monument, as well as hotels. The tours are identical in price to the ones found in the city, and the hotels are surprisingly amongst the most economical. Once you purchase / skip the tour to the monument, go outside and take a cab to your hotel/hostel for about $4 (40MXN). If you scheduled a tour, just wait for the bus to pick you up on time. If not, find a tour service (you can find them walking around the single main street of the city) that takes you there. They are all 100 pesos (you can get a deal if they are desperate, and departing immediately).

Skeezy Tip: It is recommended that (if they have a convenient schedule) you buy the tour when you get to the city (or at least get their info), so you don’t have to worry about finding a tour company as they are all the same price.

Golden Crown on the inside of the Pedestal

Story:

Almost everyone has heard of “Christ the Redeemer” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which is one of the 7 new world wonders. While that is a larger site, this one comes pretty close. Counting the mount, this monument is about 33 meters (108 ft) and is claimed (by the people of the city) to be the second biggest in the world. It is a testament to human architecture and the Mexican faith in the Catholic Religion. It stands on a huge mountain called “El Cubilete” making people often ask if you are going to see “El Cubilete” but really asking about the monument. It has been rebuilt 5 times on the same mountain, making constant upgrades, and additions. The current one has 2 angels next to him. One is smiling, giving him the crown of the king, while the other one looks away in shame as he is giving him the crown with spines. Unlike some other monuments to Jesus Christ around the world, the pedestal of this one is not solid. You can enter it, to view quite an impressive temple shrine, with a large golden colored crown on the top, an even larger spines crown surrounding the entire room, and a solid gold star which is only shown on special occasions.

Skeezy Tip: Plan to stay at least a few days in Guanajuato, as it has a lot to offer, at a surprisingly economical price which is not common anymore in Mexico. The food is also really cheap here, especially in the marketplace with 6 Peso (50 cent) Tostadas!

From the back of the monument.

Logistics:

Airplane: Fly into Leon/Guanajuato International Airport (BJX) and follow the instructions above. Use Kayak.com, or if possible vivaaerobus.com as they give you the best rates.

Lodging:

1) Posada San Francisco: 011-473-732-2084 (No Website)

We got this one as we entered the city. No reservations were needed at the time, but we did notice other people getting turned away because they didn’t have any more rooms.

2) Hostelworld Rooms as low as $10 Shared (120 MXN) $18 Private room (220 MXN)

You could move to this one night, then more to option 1 the following nights. While this is cheaper, Posada San Francisco is where tour buses drop off people, and the exact center of town.

3) Hostelbookers Rooms as low as $7 Shared (80 MXN) $8 Private room (100 MXN)

4) Couch Surfing FREE

While the couch surfing community does exist in Guanajuato, don’t be fooled. Most people life in “new Guanajuato” which is a 20-40 MXN ($2-$4) cab ride from the historic downtown. Just be advised you will be a bit far from most things to do in the city.

Tours:

Sadly, most don’t have set offices beyond the tour company in the bus depot. Go with that if you arrived by bus. You will see them (since they crowd around you) as you exit the bus (but still inside the bus depot). If you arrived by plane (or missed this company), follow the map below, as it is centered where many Tour Company Kiosks are. Many other Kiosks exist if you walk along Juarez Street towards the market place (and past it) from where the map is centered below.

MAP: Centered at Posada San Francisco, which is also the exact center of the city and where many TOUR service kiosks are.

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