Study in Guanajuato
One Of Mexico's Silver Cities
I found the magic of Madrid, the small-town feel of Toledo, and the university atmosphere of Salamanca in Guanajuato—a sky-high UNESCO city filled with cultural treasures in the Sierra de Guanajuato of Mexico.
The language school I attended, the Academia Falcon, is right in the middle of the Paseo de la Presa, a street filled with reminders of the town's silver mining past. French-style homes and shades of New Orleans are everywhere. Behind Falcon's attractive gingerbread mansion administrative center are open-air kitchens, gardens, and pockets for peaceful contemplation.
Jorge Barroso founded the school in 1988 after teaching at the Univ. of Guanajuato. While language is the primary focus, other courses include Mexican History, Mexican and Latin American Literature, Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, Pre-Hispanic Art, and Hispanic Film Workshop. The school takes full advantage of the Univ. of Guanajuato as well as the city and its surroundings. Art and music play a large part of life in Guanajuato.
A Reason to Stay Longer
Arriving before or staying after a language course offers the chance to live like a prince on the budget of a pauper. The area has yet to experience the rising costs that many cities in Mexico have experienced. On weekends and after my school courses I chose three different lodgings to stay in. All three were exceptional and not well known outside of Mexico.
Just up the street from the Academia Falcon and across from the beautiful Florencio Antillon Park is the Hotel Quinta Las Acacias (see below). With wood and marble floors covered with Oriental carpets, this gem dates back to the heady days of the late 19th century when French companies reopened the silver mines. The manager, Ana Perez, and her brothers brought the building back into the family, and their personal love and attention show. The service is extremely friendly. A hillside pool and private park cap off a remarkable hotel.
Two kilometers outside of Guanajuato in Valencia is the Meson San Cayetano, a restored 18th century villa, built by the founder of one of Mexico's biggest mines. When you add up the amenities such as maid service, breakfast, stereo, TV, fireplace, library, and full kitchen, plus an exquisite private garden, you will be amazed to pay only $25 a night (if you split the cost with four other people). Looking down on Guanajuato from the garden at night is memorable.
A trip to the nearby artists' community of San Miguel De Allende is almost a necessary part of a visit to Guanajuato. San Miguel is smaller than Guanajuato but just as magical and filled with colonial treasures. The Hotel La Morada, just down the street from the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the town's main church and main plaza, could not be in a better location. The hotel's owners are a delightful couple named Stephanie and Alvaro Zubeidia. The 16 rooms are amazingly spacious, charming, and comfortable. My bedroom fireplace was a crackling delight.
Whatever your reason for heading to Mexico's Silver Cities you will find it's a place that will nourish and encourage your desire to explore and learn.
KENT ST. JOHN is senior travel editor for www.GoNomad.com.