Here we are in Aguascalientes city or “Hot Water.” Our hotel, the Fiesta Americana, is on a very nice pedestrian street called Plaza Monumental so we were able to walk around a lot. Unfortunately, I was very sick yesterday (Monday) when we got here so we only walked around a little while. However, we liked the city so much we decided to stay an extra day. We also sprung for a much nicer hotel than was in our budget (about $170 a night). After the very cheap 12-hour stay at the auto hotel and, consequently, the 12 hours of intestinal issues, I wanted to be spoiled. We did have some trouble when checking out with mysterious charges for food items we never ate out of the room fridge and the “free” breakfast that wasn’t free. My husband was very upset and won’t stay there again.
The main cathedral is on the west side of Plaza de la Patria in the center of Aguascalientes. There are at least five cathedrals in the central area. The inside of the main cathedral had gold leaf all over the ceiling and paintings everywhere. There is a very elaborate altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe in all of the churches here (the one in this cathedral is by Miguel Cabrera, one of Mexico’s finest artists). That is really the only main difference from cathedrals I have seen in Europe. This is all pretty new to my husband too since his family, though Catholics, never traveled to see any of Mexico’s beautiful cathedrals. I felt too guilty to snap a picture of the inside of this cathedral since there were so many people kneeling and praying and there was even a priest taking confessions. A novelty for this Lutheran girl!
This is the “old” train station we saw on our bus tour. It was built around 1910 which makes it fairly ‘young” in a 400-year-old city. The translations got blurred together so I’m a little fuzzy on some details. My husband had a hard time keeping up with the tour guide. There is a park area and museum around here but we did not go in since it was far from where our hotel was and we did not want to take any taxis.
We walked around more this morning and sat at a cafe by the main plaza having smoothies and people watching. The Palacio Federal was very pretty inside with arches and murals.
We found very nice buildings here and the city seems very safe. The streets are very skinny and tough to drive through but all has been well so far. No crashes! Most of the buildings have open plaza areas with some cloth or plastic stretched over part of the roof making the edges like giant skylights. There are bright colors and tons of natural light everywhere.
We saw a tortilleria where they were making the tortillas from scratch and a nice bakery near where we had lunch. We also walked around at night a little on Tuesday and got some elotes… For those of you who have gone with to 5 de Mayo in St. Paul you know what those are…. Sweet corn grilled with either cream or mayo smeared on it then sprinkled with cotija cheese and you can add lime, salt and chile powder to it. YUMMY! Then we walked over to the Cathedral of San Marcos which is at the end of the plaza by our hotel. It was like a carnival with food vendors and a little lawn mower pulling train cars for the kids to ride it and fountains that weren’t going during the day. It was fun to see all the people out.
One very interesting story we learned on our bus tour seems very typical of the “legendary Mexican passion.” It is the story of how Aguascalientes became a state (it is a state AND a city). In 1853, there was a party for the “rich and famous” of Aguascalientes city and the president of Mexico was in attendance. Apparently, there was a woman there who was very rich and powerful and also very, very beautiful. The president, Santa Anna (yes, the same one that lost half of Mexico’s territory to the US) was asking her for a kiss and she kept refusing saying that her husband was watching her. Then he asked her to dance and she accepted. While they were dancing he kept asking her for one kiss and she said that she would give him a kiss on his cheek only if he gave her what she wanted… for Aguascalientes to become a state of its own. He finally said “yes” and she stopped the music and announced that she was now going to give the president a kiss on his cheek because he agreed to make Aguascalientes a state. She then kissed him and everyone cheered and within months a new Mexican state was born. Seriously? For a kiss on the cheek? She must have been incredibly beautiful! I tried to convince my husband that our life should work that way… One kiss on the cheek and he will do whatever I want… Sadly, he said things do not work that way any more. *Big sigh*