I came to Guanajuato in Mexico for the beauty of its multicolored houses snaking up the hills around this picturesque Mexican city. But I stayed for the music and the fun.
The cobbled alleys, picturesque plazas and colorful old buildings of Guanajuato are a photographer’s dream as well as a treasure for those interested in history.
“One of the reasons for its Unesco World Heritage listing is that it is an open-air museum of colonial architecture,” says my friend Enrique. “The almost unimaginable wealth from the silver mines was spent building churches, mansions and civic spaces in the very latest fashions during three centuries of Spanish rule.”
At the town’s Union Square, the Mariachi bands transport me back to those colonial times. They are not here for the tourists. The majority of their clients are Mexicans who hire them to play the old ballads. Locals join in with the singing at the outdoor restaurants. The Mexican cowboy outfits, or “charro”, worn by the musicians are impeccable, with their boots and their tight pants, their jackets and imposing sombreros.
Their western-style costumes are in stark contrast to the Estudiantinas, the music groups made up of university students whose music is of Spanish origin. Their “tuna” costumes appear to come from an entirely different film, maybe one from the medieval era.
Between the architecture and the music scene, I almost have to glance at my smartphone once in a while just to remind myself it is still the 21st century.