Day 29 of retirement and every day I’m amazed I don’t need to work.
I spent the day walking around Guanajuato. This place is crazy with twisting streets and alleys that snake around houses, parks and commercial buildings. It’s beautiful because there was apparently absolutely no planning involved with its layout.
There are a few people peddling trinkets, candies or a song for spare change. Sometimes I give them what’s in my pocket, sometimes I’m already tapped out.
On one of my walks today I was in a narrow alley surrounded by tall houses. A tiny little girl of about four turned into the alley apparently running ahead of her friends when she suddenly froze. In front of her was a 6’3″ old gringo with whiskers and he looked pretty scary. She meekly let out a small, “hola”. I grinned back and said to her, “Que te pasa, calabaza?” (what’s up, pumpkin)
She laughed. She thought that was pretty funny. Gringos say crazy shit.
The flight to Mexico and getting through immigration and customs was very easy. Now I’ve got a 180-day Mexican visa.
I arrived at the León airport and took a taxi to Guanajuato. It was only about 20 minutes long. My driver kept passing other cars on double-yellow sections of the highway which didn’t make me happy, but that’s Mexico for you. At least the cars we passed slowed and pulled over on the shoulder of the road for us. 🙂
When we got to Guanajuato, I got out of the taxi and started walking. Taxis can’t take you directly to where you want to go because most of the city is blocked off to cars. Guanajuato is extremely hilly. you’re either going up a street or down a street, almost never walking on flat pavement. I had to ask directions a couple of times, but eventually found my destination. My host Roberto Vargas met me at the B&B, Casa Tepozanes. He’s a very soft-spoken guy of about 35 and he told me to contact him on whatsapp if I ever need anything.
My room is about what I expected. It’s small, clean and meets the basic requirements. The neighborhood seems very quiet. We’ll see if it stays that way. I have a great view of the huge statue overlooking the city and just as I arrived a dark storm brought thunder and lightning sweeping in over downtown. An hour later it stopped raining, so I went to dinner.
I decided to try, what I think is, the most expensive restaurant in town; La Trattoria at the Hotel San Diego. They gave me a table on the second floor overlooking the pedestrian street and the main plaza. It’s an amazing place to people-watch; just brilliant. I had a great meal and two margaritas (no salt, please). Total cost with a 20% tip: $20.00 USD. Of course, you can find cheaper meals here, but 20 bucks ain’t bad 😉
This is my 27th day of retirement and early tomorrow morning I fly to Guanajuato, México. I’ve got cash, new underwear and my teeny-tiny backpack will be bursting at the seams. One last check to make sure I’ve got my passport and I’m ready to hit the road.
I feel I’m finally starting to adjust to the Colorado altitude. I’m still getting a light nose bleed, but it’s much improved. Five days from now I’ll be even higher as Guanajuato is far up in the mountains.
Mexico should be rockin’ since the national team is 2-0 in World Cup competition, including defeating the current world champions, Germany.
I leave the U.S. on 28 June for Mexico. This will be an interesting step forward on my journey into retirement. I’ve booked a highly-rated bed and breakfast called, “Casa Tepozanes” in the most beautiful of Mexican cities; Guanajuato.
Casa Tepozanes is located on,”Callejón de perros muertos”; the alley of dead dogs. The hotel just down the street is, “Zopilote mojado”; the wet vulture. You gotta love Mexican humor.
My stay at Casa Tepozanes is for 13 nights and the cost is 11,021 pesos, or $541 USD. At that rate I could stay at this place for about $1,200 USD a month. Keep in mind, this is at a very nice B&B and this is the internet rate for gringos. I’m betting I can find a nice, furnished apartment with two bedrooms for maybe $800 a month? I don’t know. I can’t wait to find out.
My flight from the U.S. ($422 USD) will take me from Denver to Houston (2h 17m), layover of about one hour, then from Houston to León, México (2h 14m). Should be a relatively easy day. I’ll grab a taxi from León to Guanajuato. The ride will take 30-40 minutes and cost me 20 bucks. I should be at the B&B by about 3:30 in the afternoon of the 28th.
I’ll shower, get dressed and head out for a couple of margaritas (no salt, please) and a dinner including lots of black beans because my daughter tells me I don’t eat enough fiber.
Every time I’m in the Union Station area of Denver, I’m blown away. It’s so beautiful. It’s not running on all eight cylinders yet, but in 2-3 years, it will be. The G-Line isn’t running yet. Dairy Block is almost finished. The Coloradan is almost finished, Market Square is still a ways off. IncaHuron isn’t even a hole in the ground yet. The Colorado Rockies Mixed-Use & Hall of Fame hasn’t broken ground yet. But, when all of this comes together, Union Station/LoDo will be insane with activity.
While traveling you sometimes see things that really amaze you. This guy dumped a full container of coffee sweeteners on the floor. Then, he wiped his mouth with a napkin and tossed it on the floor. A few minutes later he did it again.
After awhile, he called a Mexican waitress over to clean it all up. While she was cleaning, I apologized to her in Spanish for my countryman’s behavior, “Siento por el comportamiento de mis paisanos. Unos son puercos.” 🙁
Sunday, 17 June, my sister and I went to a gay pride party and then attended the parade in downtown Denver. It went on forever! Back in the 1970s I remember attending gay pride parades that only lasted a few minutes. Times have changed – for the better 🙂
The last time I hit the road in Mexico, I started in Mexico City. I took buses between cities and spent 3-4 days in each place. Once I reached Chihuahua, I flew home.
Arriving in the U.S. got me a lot of attention from the police. I was a single male, traveling alone, I bought a last-minute one-way ticket to the U.S. They were convinced I was smuggling drugs, but even after three searches of myself and my backpack, they couldn’t find anything. I bet they really wanted to x-ray me, but I would have fought that 😉
It’s been almost eight years since I’ve been able to have a conversation in Spanish. Spanish just isn’t very common in the Middle East. Yesterday I took my first-ever Uber ride. Due to traffic, a 15-minute trip took 45 minutes. Fortunately, my driver was from Venezuela and he had thickly accented English. It turned into a Spanish practice session for me. He told me all about life today in Venezuela. Of course, the population is on the point of starvation as the economy is failing and grocery stores have no groceries. My driver, Jaime, is a native of Maracaibo, about an eight-hour drive from Caracas.
He thinks I’m crazy to want to visit Venezuela. He said it’s dangerous for him to be there. For me, it would be much worse. I told him I’d been in many active war zones and in the middle of one revolution. I think I can handle street punks and thieves 😉 But, hey, what happens, happens. We’ll see when I get there.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, right?
Yesterday I made my flight reservations for León, México. León is about a 20-minute taxi drive to Guanajuato City; my destination. I also made reservations at a bed and breakfast in Guanajuato. They can only fit me in from 28 June until 13 July. I’ll have to make other arrangements after the 13th, but this is a good start. Once I’m in the city, I can find a furnished apartment for a multi-month stay.
A Mexican visa will allow me to stay in the country for six months. For now, I think I’ll plan to travel to Belize and Guatemala when my Mexican visa expires.