The Mountainous Callejón of Guanajuato, or, Why My Legs Hurt Too Much for Adventure

Image: a steep alley staircase, with pastel houses on either side.


My taxi slid to a stop just outside of a pristine theatre, its front edifice gridded by marble pillars. People milled about on the stairs and sat in the sunshine on a warm weekday afternoon. Faith spotted me seconds after I put my first trepidatious foot on Guanajuato soil.

We talked the usual travel talk, I told her about my flight, about immigration. The sun beat down, and my friend bought be an icy, canned margarita. She then led me down an alley and to the pathway that I would come to know all too well.

I began to think of the people of Guanajuato as absurdly friendly, but this was partly because of my interactions on the daily trudge up and down the callejón. 15 minutes on rocky stairways and creeping, twisty alleys led all the way up to my friends’ beautiful, Mediterranean Sea-blue house, and this path had to be forded multiple times per day, step by painful, sweaty step. The others on the road saw my pain and knew it all too well, as this burden was shared amongst all.

I made the trek with my friends back and forth, multiple times per day, sweat pooling on my back and all over my feet. Once or twice I felt fairly certain I would just crawl into a doorway and beg for succour, plead with whatever pleasant Mexican person was inside that they just let me rest there, perhaps become a part of the family, and work towards becoming a valued member of Mexican society, so long as I didn’t have to climb any longer. Up and down we marched, and every old lady, every young man walking a cadre of adorable dogs, every posse of children and grocery shoppers and lovers would nod, smile, and wish us a pleasant afternoon.

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