Driving our Motorhome in the State of Guanajuato, Mexico
Moving On 1
Spending another Winter in wonderful Mexico
Follow along with our adventures in Jennie the RV and Willie the Jeep
Things we've done and places we've been on this trip - Mexico 2009
The trip to Hidalgo was over the mountains about 40 miles northeast of Guanajuato on Highway 110. This is part of the Ruta 2010 - The Independence Road. It took us about an hour in Willie. Get up to almost 9000 feet. It’s a pretty drive lots of trees and a couple of small villages. And the occasional lone house sitting high up on a ridge. The leaves on the trees are still orange and yellow and falling off - looks like fall instead of almost spring. Yet others have their bright new leaves already.
We missed the turn into downtown so went around the long way and pass the immense Monument to the Heroes of the Independence. The monument was built to commemorate the heroes of the Independence: Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Morelos. Flying next to it is one of the biggest Mexican flags I’ve seen.
The city of Dolores Hidalgo is known as the cradle of Mexican Independence. It was here that Miguel Hidalgo lived and plotted the uprising against Spanish rule in 1810. He uttered his famous Grito de Dolores the call for revolution from the Parroquia Nuestra Senora de los Dolores. This beautiful church has been faithfully preserved.
A little history quoted from a guide book, “On that Sunday in 1810, the town was swarming with church-going Indians and peasant farmers. Father Hildalgo roused them and crillos (people of Spanish descent born in Mexico) to rise against the the Spanish ruling class. He urged the crowd to follow him into battle. No one is certain exactly what Hidalgo said as his speech was not written down, but he probably included phrases such as ‘long live freedom’. At that time Miguel Hidalgo wasn't an active priest. He and his countrymen marched 20 miles to San Miguel el Grande (now San Miguel de Allende), to join the forces of the military general, Ignacio Allende. About 1,000 troops strong, they marched toward Guanajuato. Within a week, their ranks swelled to 25,000 and ultimately to 80,000. Yet, it took another 11 years, and much bloodshed on both sides, before Mexico achieved independence from Spain." Hidalgo and three other revolutionary leaders were executed the in 1811 and their heads placed in public display in the city of Guanajuato.
There are a lot of changes since we were here last year. The city is preparing for the big Independence Bicentennial in September.
We found a parking spot right down on the main plaza in town where there is a huge bronze statue of Hidalgo. We stopped and watched and listened for a while as a teacher told the story of Hidalgo to his young students.
The church where Hidalgo made his speech is quite impressive. Completed in 1778 its churrigueresque façade is carved in rose colored quarry stone. Last year when we were here they were working on cleaning the outside. They did an excellent job it looks brand new.
This year the inside is being restored. There are three altars. The main one and one on each side. One side altar is all hand carved in a dark wood in the baroque style. Very intricate. When we looked closely we could see the chisel marks left by the workers. The other side altar is gold leaf - also in the churrigueresque style (I like that word.) One of the things that is being redone is the gold work. It is all gold leaf (we thought it was paint - nope.) The columns of the main altar are all golf leaf - it has been restored. There are several columns along the side walls being restored. I took a picture of just one section of the wall that was being worked on - only the top half is done. It took over 2000 packages of gold leaf. Each package costs approximately US$250.) Very expensive restoration, but it is worth it.
Now there is a fountain in the street in front of the church - they were constructing it last year. It is just jets of water squirting up out of the ground. We watched as several school kids ran in and out of it.
All the exteriors of the buildings around the downtown district are being repaired and repainted. Looks very nice. Except there is an awful lot of pink and orange being used. Many of the buildings surrounding the plaza are from the early 1700s.
A couple of the streets leading off the main plaza are being repaved - by hand! We watched them for awhile. At first we thought they were using half bricks - but in reality they are using stones - hand cut to size. Wet cement, from a wheel barrel, goes into a mold then the stones are put in one by one.
Hidalgo is one of the best places in Mexico to buy Talavera - a porcelain type pottery that was introduced to the village by Hidalgo. A block or two from the plaza the streets are lined with shops selling everything from individual tiles to huge hand painted vases. This year we again visited the shop where we bought a set of dishes last year. There were five people in the back workshop sketching out and painting various items. And the area they work in is so dark; don’t know how they manage it. After the painted is complete the items are fired in a big kiln. The colors on items are very pale before they are fired - after the firing they are dazzling. Saw a “Day of the Dead” bathroom sink - not to my liking but who knows someone might want it. One of the neat things is every item is hand painted so there are very slight variations from piece to piece. Every piece of our dinner ware set is signed by the painter.
By then we’d walked enough to stop for lunch at a very nice restaurant on the plaza. Ambiance, service and food were excellent. They had an exquisite example of one of the big vases made in town.
After lunch I thought about buying some ice cream from one of the many the vendors around the plaza. Some of the flavors offered were: tequila, whisky, chili, beer, corn, avocado, mole and of course the standards. Couldn’t decide what exotic flavor I wanted so didn’t get any. Okay so I’m chicken.
Another item made in town is carved wood furniture. Last year we saw a beautiful dining room set and fell in love with it. So gorgeous! This year we visited it again. It is still beautiful and they will ship to the US.
There are more than seven elaborate churches in town and historic monuments are scattered about. We visited a couple of the other churches. One in particular, near the tile factory, had some wonderful old paintings in it and a very unique tiled floor.
We also toured the Casa de Don Miguel Hidalgo, where the padre lived from 1804 to 1810. The building dates back to 1779 and is very interesting inside. One thing that fascinated me was the hand painted decorations throughout the home. The fact that they were still there though faded. There are several pieces of furniture, clothing and documents from Hidalgo’s time. Looking at the doors in the house and Hidalgo’s clothing we realized he was a very short man. Bill began talking with the guide and found out that his great grandfather marched with Hidalgo. They spent quite a bit of time talking about the history of Mexico.
We also visited the central market and took in the sights. We didn’t buy anything except some delicious churros.
It is just interesting walking around town and taking in the sights: the dried chili for sale, the young women sitting on the sidewalk scraping the spines off the cactus leaves and then cutting it into strips to be sold. The old men with their guitars strolling the streets waiting for someone to ask them to sing. The old women sitting on their blanket with their hand out begging. The high school girls and boys in their uniforms taking pictures of each other with their cell phones.
For some great photographs of Hidalgo from our visits there Click Here
It is such a city of contrasts. The old and the new living in pride and harmony.
The Cities we visited while Rving in Guanajuato , Mexico: Guanajuato Hidalgo León
For some sounds of Hidalgo Click Here