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Guanajuato, Land of Frogs

 

 

When theme parks, beaches, scuba diving, and whale watching have lost their charm after multiple vacations to Mexico, perhaps a visit to The Land of Frogs is in order. The City of Guanajuato, which is called “the Crown Jewel” of Mexico’s colonial cities, loosely translates as “the land of frogs” in Tarascan: Quanax-Huato. By some accounts, a long-ago inhabitant of the land, whose identity has been lost to time, took one look at the terrain and said, “Nothing but frogs could live here!”

 

Others say the locals found thousands of frogs in the mountainous terrain. Still other accounts say it was the shape of the mountains that reminded the natives of frogs. Whichever account is true, Guanajuato is a place to get to know.

 

Guanajuato earned its place in world geography when the Spanish found the surrounding mountains rich in silver deposits. In fact, at one time more than one third of the world’s silver riches were mined in Guanajuato.

 

Though none of the usual summer vacation activities exists in Guanajuato, this city exudes history with every unsteady step you take on its cobblestone streets.

 

Although small, Guanajuato has outstanding colonial architecture built with the silver revenue from times past. With modern museums, cultural events almost year-round, one of world’s oldest universities, and an almost perfect year-round temperate climate, Guanajuato is the perfect alternative to the usual vacation fare.

 

Many first-time visitors have expressed amazement to find that Guanajuato defies their stereotypical expectation of Mexico. Many who have travelled extensively throughout Europe think Guanajuato resembles a town from Spain or Northern Italy somehow magically transplanted to this side of the planet.

 

Depending on whom you ask, the City of Guanajuato has a population of between 100,000-120,000 people. It is located in a ravine with the city literally built up the sides of the bowl-like surrounding mountains. If nothing else, a trip to Guanajuato would be worth the time and expense just to marvel at how the Mexicans figured out how to build this city. To call it a marvel is a gross understatement.

 

Another marvel to behold is Guanajuato’s system of underground tunnels. Originally, the Guanajuato River flowed through the centre of town. Numerous devastating floods occurred over the centuries, and engineers decided to divert the river away from the middle of town in the early 1900s. After diverting the river, the riverbed was turned into a maze of underground streets-this time to divert traffic instead of water.

 

All one need do is visit the Tourism Office to find an English speaking tour guide to take you on an unbelievably rich tour of where Mexico began—at a price that won’t break your wallet.



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