Aguascalientes - (continued)
Mexican cities are famous for murals. This one below is in the government palace as are most..
The murals depict the history of the cities and the country (click to enlarge). To the left is Morelos.. the guy on the 50 peso note that looks like
a pirate. Above him is Father Hidalgo. Hidalgo was the guy that began the uprising with the Spaniards. He is celebrated on 15/16 September every year
with the current President of Mexico repeating his famous words 3 times, "Viva Mexico".
Father Hidalgo was told that the Spaniards were coming to get him. He quickly ran to the church and rang the church bell to gather the citizens.
That same bell is apparently now in Mexico City and every year the President of Mexico rings it at exactly 11pm as a huge fiesta happens throughout
the country. The Mexican equivalent of the American "4th of July."
The church of San Marcos is just beside the government palace and a really nice park and square.
Aguascalientes is also depicted in an American film that I will get the name of soon.. It is shown to be a city "with no electricity, no running water, just a bunch of cows and a ranch in a backwater place, filled with old women in huts. Nothing can be further from the truth. This city is home to Nissan Motors Mexico with a 1km long assembly plant. Xerox is here too as are several other major plants. There are huge malls, McDonalds (sigh), Pizza Hut and all the others. Everyone drives a relatively new car and life is pretty darn high tech... Internet Cafes are all over the place. It kind of feels more like Europe than Mexico. I admit that I was the only gringo for 500km. I did see some Japanese... probably bosses and their families from Nissan.
To the right is a picture from inside the government palace. Great architecture and well looked after.
I guess what astounds me the most is that I have been "brainwashed" by the American film industry on what to expect. When I get to these
places I find something completely different. Compassionate well educated people, modern living conditions, family traditions, yes... it is not a
first world country but the people seem happy. Forget all that stuff about banditos robbing you and cantinas filled with theives. Nobody is selling
their daughter on the street.
This is a country rich in tradition with a sweet and sour feeling towards Spain in my opinion. Everyone is proud of MesoAmerican pasts... the
native Indians here are different than in the US and Canada. The various Mexican Indian tribes built things like pyramids, had trade routes, studied
mathematics and astronomy. When the Spanish came, they mixed with the Indians and thus the current population is both the "conquerer, and the
conquered." This is a key point to understand about Mexicans. They are very proud of their country, while at the same time being not sure
just who they are. Forget that Hollywood crap about the toothless farmer trying to jump the border to a "better life."
Many Mexicans in Aguascalientes expressed to me that they don't like the United States. Not that they would treat an American bad... Mexicans
just have different values. They don't like the "I have big bucks and will only stay in the Ritz and visit your country via tour guide and
from the safety of an air conditioned bus" attitude. They are angry that they cannot visit the US without getting an expensive and hard to
get Visa. They are well aware that the American thinking is "the customer is number one and business before pleasure." These sayings
anger them because they feel, "family is number one, friends number two, and clients can wait.". Again, they feel frustrated by it as
they do by the mixed Spanish/Indian heritage they have. I detect though that they DO like Americans and find them interesting and intriguing.
I'd love to write a book on this... I've been to Moscow, Tokyo, all over Europe and the feeling is similar. I can see both points of view and
how minor conflicts in thinking can occur. Anyway... on with the tour.
The Drive-thru liquor store
Amazing! You would never find a drive through liquor store in Canada. My friend Antonio takes me in his 1978 VW Safari and we cruise Aguascalientes.
I spot this giant beer can drive through store and ask him to stop so I can take some pix. Standard stuff to him... a wierd place to me.
Below: Another picture of the beer can drive thru liquor store.
The picture above is inside the Church of San Marcos in Aguascalientes... almost feels like you are in Europe. The picture of the sleeping Mexican
below was taken at around 3pm at the fair of San Marcos. It truly IS popular for Mexicans to take a break between 2 and 4pm and have something
to eat or a quick sleep. Now you know how they can party for such long hours!
The real reason they call this place Aguascalientes is because it is famous for natural hot water. That is what Aguascalientes means... Hot Water!
There is very little, if any, information on the Internet about this great city. I visited these baths constructed in 1808.
Famous with the locals but totally unexplored by the outside world. Very few foreigners will ever see this place. I was lucky to have a local
friend who lives there as a guide.
Here I am inside the main corridor in the hot baths. Note again the presence of many of these large trees with the blue flowers.
Each room in the baths has a differently designed ceramic tub - not modern ones!! They were constructed almost 200 years ago.. They are rentable by the hour as are two giant swimming pools that they will fill with the natural hot water on request. The price for a pool that might hold 20 people for a fiesta was about USD $22 per hour. The small independant rooms with a spa for 6 were renting for about USD $6 per hour. It's a nice place but certainly needs some maintenance. I am surprised at Mexican towns for not promoting more their culture and interesting places to visit. The lack of any information on Aquascalientes and other places on the Internet I find amazing. This place might be the equivalent of Baden-Baden in Germany which is plastered all over the Internet and promoted to the hilt.
It seems like a great place to spend an afternoon in absolute privacy. The picture to the left is just one of the various styles of small pools
that you can rent.
It is important that you speak some Spanish in the towns around this area... and in Aguascalientes too. VERY few people speak
English and you will not see many foreigners. Well, perhaps you might come across some Japanese because of the large Nissan factory in the
city. I have been told they have their own schools and small community of expats. I did see a few, but in general, I was the only gringo for miles.
My Spanish is not the best either, knowing about 35% of the language, but I bumbled through and the Mexicans are extremely friendly
if you try to speak Spanish. They are helpful, pleasant, and crime is low in this area as opposed to what Hollywood films would portray. Mexicans
in this area are well educated, connected to the Internet, and drive some very nice cars. Perhaps they do not want to advertise because it will
become a tourist mecca like Playa del Carmen near Cancun. THAT town a few years ago was a sleepy beach village and is now filled with McDonalds,
Walmart being built, TGI Fridays, and is crawling with time share salespeople and a ton of foreigners. Aguascalientes is STILL the real Mexico....
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