Day 7: Museum Day!

Museum Day! Museum Day! It’s Museum Day! I’m going to the museum!

Oops, museum is closed. Museum Day is tomorrow!

It seems to be a fact of life here that museums open and close at random times and days. On most of my strolls I’ve passed by museums where there were printed signs announcing an unexpected closure (or opensure) for the day. It looks like I’ll have to make museum-going more of a spur-of-the-moment thing. I’m OK with that. It’s very laid back here.

Today was a work day, and I cranked through a good six and a half hours of work between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. One of the big questions I had going into this experiment was whether I would actually be able to work remotely. Would the Internet work? Could I stay focused while in another place? Would I be able to work on my laptop without my usual desktop setup? In all cases, the answer has been yes, and because I’m parked in one place for the entire time I don’t feel the pressure to go out every hour and every day and be a tourist. I’m enjoying Guanajuato at a leisurely pace, as if I were living here instead of visiting. It’s exactly the feeling I wanted.

In the afternoon, forsaking the traditional siesta, I headed out on the aforementioned unrealized museum quest. Failing to find an open museum, I stopped into the funky Antik Kafé (my spell checker just hissed at me and ran under the sofa), where I enjoyed a chocolate caliente while reading the newspaper and writing postcards.

The big front page news (assuming my Spanish is correct) is that the state-mandated price on tortillas is being raised. Which leads to a number of questions: Price controls on tortillas? Really? And should I stockpile before the price goes up? I bought 15 tortillas just to be safe, but ate nine of them in the first few hours, thus blowing my economic hedge fund. I think this is what happened to General Motors.

For those keeping track, my tortilla count for the trip is now 39.

Next I stopped by the post office to mail my postcards. The Mexican post office has a color scheme that could best be described as “Early Baskin-Robbins.” I couldn’t decide whether to buy stamps or ask for a taste spoon of Mono Gordo.

I opted for the stamps, and while she was getting my change the helpful post office lady explained to me that I had to put one stamp on each postcard. Apparently I look stupid. Or maybe it was because when asking for the stamps in Spanish I said something amounting to “It would please me to get five pastries pregnant.” I become flustered when I have to speak Spanish.

Fun fact about the post office: They have motorcycles for the postal carriers to use in delivering the mail, parked right in the lobby of the post office next to the P.O. boxes. This makes the post office much more awesome.

My next goal was to find Callejon del Beso, and if you’ve been reading this blog you know it’s always a 50-50 shot in this town to find anything you’re specifically looking for. Amazingly, I stumbled right onto it, just a few turns off of Plaza Los Angeles (much less traffic than the other Los Angeles). Callejon del Beso (Kiss Alley) is an alley in Guanajuato where the houses are so close to each other that you could literally lean across the balconies of two facing houses and kiss your neighbor (I mean, if you’re into such things — my neighbor is 89 years old). 

The callejon was as advertised. The houses are just inches from touching, and it was a tight squeeze to take the steep alley in between. I arrived just behind a young school group, which was given a funny, joke-filled introduction to the landmark by a college-aged tour guide, including a number of riddles such as “What kind of kiss do you get from a baker?” (Insert your own answer — I didn’t understand the punch line but I think it had something to do with buns.)

The guide also made all the girls in the school group kiss him on the cheek as they passed through the callejon. If this were the USA that would at least require a permission slip and an observer from the school board.

I took a number of back alleys toward home, getting lost several times (hint: if the alley starts climbing, you’re probably lost; if you go down the stairs into tunnels, you’re really lost).

I ended up behind the Teatro Juárez (a running theme this week) and found the funicular cars that go up to the Pipila Monument (more on that in a few days when I ride the funicular). The whole contraption has the appearance of being manufactured out of Legos.

On the way home I stopped by a fruit and vegetable store and the small local grocery to pick up some dinner ingredients, and then made the steep climb back up to the house. In answer to the question: How long does it take to acclimate to 7,000 feet, the answer is “More than a week.”

Hard to believe it’s already been a week. In some ways it seems like I’ve been here forever, but I think that’s a good sign that I’ve settled into life. Tonight I made a home cooked meal of sauteed chicken with red pepper, garlic and onion, served over rice.

Speaking of cooking, it’s a bit of a challenge thanks to the altitude. The rice turned out simultaneously overmoistened and undercooked, and this afternoon I had a complete hard-boiled egg fail. So far I’m batting .500 on cooking eggs. With a boiling point of 199 degrees at this altitude, there’s a fine line between boiling eggs to death and ending up with raw yolks. Like the museums, you never know what you’re going to get from one day to another.

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