Guanajuato state, three hours from Mexico City by car, is where Mexican Independence from Spain first took root but, despite its revolutionary past, it is now one of the most peaceful places in the troubled country.
“Our city is a World Heritage Site and we are very proud of that,” says Ramon, my waiter at breakfast in Guanajuato City. “Have you already visited the Alley of the Kiss?” As I sit in one of the cafés on San Roque square, he tells me the legend of this lane, so narrow that the houses on each side nearly touch. It is a story that illustrates some of the stereotypical traits of this country: passion, violence and pride.
“A woman named Carmen was in love with Luis, a poor miner from a nearby village,” he says. “Carmen’s father found out and locked her up, threatening to ship her off to a convent. So Luis moved in to the house just in front of theirs and spent several weeks hiding out, occasionally peeking out the windows. When Carmen’s father discovered this, he killed his daughter, who fell dead into Luis’ arms. So now the tradition is to walk into this alley and kiss your loved one.”
Of course, I have to go see it for myself. Sure enough, every couple passing down the alley seem unable to resist the temptation to kiss each other when they reach the spot where the alley is at its narrowest.