Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Parque Fundidora

Nice golden winter light, idyllic warm weather, not in a mood for adventure - all these made me indecisive on a Sunday evening. I neither wanted to stay at home, nor was game for any serious activities though I was in a mood for a few clicks. And at such times, Parque Fundidora will be a perfect destination. After hosting Universal Forum of Cultures (Forum in short), 2007, Fundidora is a major weekend attraction for the regios (locals from Monterrey). The good old foundry buildings have now become an antique architectural sites, housing restaurants and museums. There are long and winding walking tracks, used not just by pedestrians but also by skaters and cyclists, playground for kids, slopes for free-skaters, artificial lakes and bridges. A perfect place for family kinds, romancing couples, sportsmen and paparazzi photographers like us. I've tried to shoot people here which I'm not really good at (most of them in black and white), click on each of them to see bigger versions and don't forget to drop a line if you like them.

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Friday, January 25, 2008


Seven Liberal Virtues:
  • Prudence
  • Justice
  • Fortitude
  • Temperance
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Understanding

Seven Liberal Arts:
  • Grammar
  • Logic
  • Rhetoric
  • Music
  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Astronomy

Seven Sins:
  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride
Seven Virtues (contrary to Seven Sins):
  • Chastity
  • Moderation
  • Charity
  • Zeal
  • Liberality
  • Meekness
  • Humility

Seven Wonders of Ancient World:
  • Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria
Seven Sages (Saptharshi):
  • Kratu
  • Pulaha
  • Pulastya
  • Atri
  • Angira
  • Vasishtha
  • Brighu
Seven notes of music:
  • Do
  • Re
  • Mi
  • Fa
  • Sol
  • La
  • Ti

Seven modes in music:
  • Ionian mode
  • Dorian mode
  • Phrygian mode
  • Lydian mode
  • Mixolydian mode
  • Aeolian mode
  • Locrian mode
Seven Colors of rainbow:
  • Violet
  • Indigo
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Red
Seven Tools of Quality:
  • Ishikawa diagram
  • Pareto chart
  • Check sheet
  • Control chart
  • Flowchart
  • Histogram
  • Scatter diagram
Seven dwarfs of Snowhite:
  • Bashful
  • Doc
  • Dopey
  • Grumpy
  • Happy
  • Sleepy
  • Sneezy
Seven Layers of OSI model:
  • Physical Layer
  • Datalink layer
  • Network layer
  • Transport layer
  • Session layer
  • Presentation layer
  • Application layer
Seven Logic Gates:
  • AND
  • OR
  • NAND
  • NOR
  • XNOR
  • XOR
  • NOT
Seven Emperors (of Rome):
  • Julius Caesar
  • Augustus
  • Galba
  • Hadrian
  • Nerva
  • Sallust
  • Vespasian
Seven Hills (of Rome):
  • Palatine Hill (Collis Palatinus)
  • Aventine (Collis Aventinus)
  • Capitoline (Capitolinus)
  • Quirinal (Quirinalis)
  • Viminal (Viminalis)
  • Esquiline (Esquilinus)
  • Caelian (Caelius)
Seven Against Thebes:
  • Adrastus
  • Amphiaraus
  • Capaneus
  • Hippomedon
  • Parthenopeus
  • Polynices
  • Tydeus
Seven Continents:
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Australia
  • Antartica
  • Europe
  • South America
  • North America
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
  • wisdom
  • science,
  • intellect
  • counsel
  • fortitude
  • piety
  • fear

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Evil Side of Guanajuato

Here are the photographs from the museo de momies (Museum of Mummies). Contains horrible content, reader discretion is strongly advised...

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San Miguel de Allende

An hour long eastward drive from Guanajuato would bring you to it's twin city, much longer to spell yet equal in terms of traits and features, San Miguel de Allende (read San Migel de Ayende; I'll use SMA henceforth). Queretaro airport is the nearest to SMA unlike Guanajuato which is served by Leon airport. This also has many buses plying from almost all important cities of Mexico, additionally it has frequent shuttle services from Guanajuato.

Parroquia cathedral

As mentioned before it matches Guanajuato in many aspects - architecture, weather, food but differs largely when it comes to crowd. San Miguel de Allende houses innumerable, especially old and retired, Americans and Canadians. Attributed to it's pleasant year all year round, many gringos have settled in San Miguel de Allende. As a consequence most people there speak English and one can find boards and menus in both Spanish and English. It's not just a touristic center but also a center for arts and theater. Instituo Allende, setup in 1950 is the flagship of art center and El Teatro Angela Peralta, an ancient theater holds many plays and festivals.

The grand cupola of Parroquia cathedral

Apart from being home for art and theater, historically SMA is considered as the "Forge of National Independence". This was the place where rapidly growing revolutionary, El Grito, of Miguel Hidalgo received General Ignacio Allende as lieutenant and was greatly strengthened. Ignacio Allende is the local hero of SMA and his house has now turned into historical museum.

People are colourful too.

The city central square, located just opposite to the magnificent Parroquia cathedral, is where you find people with varied activity from noisy children to making-out couples to walking old men. The streets are cobblestoned like Guanajuato and are narrow, though the gradients are not as steep. There are classy restaurants around the square, the prices of which are just double of what you find in Guanajuato and are mostly crowded by gringos. I would recommend restaurants farther from central square for cheaper and more authentic food. I had best latte of my life in a place called "Cafe", a minute or two walk from the center. Since it's a place for artists, there are innumerable places selling their artworks and souvenirs.

Such a beautiful place has one thing in lacking - Parking space. Finding a parking space is like finding water in desert and heed my advice: Never park in any place without Parking sign. You're vehicle will be mercilessly towed by the Transit cops and getting back is the difficult, painful and slow.

San Miguel de Allende requires not more than four hours to traverse but the people are so interesting there that it's a heaven for candid shots. They are colorful and vivid and they don't get mad if you point the camera towards them. Though my stint with SMA was just about four hours, I would love to spend my life there capturing expressions of the people.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Guanajuato - The Prettiest City

As I write more and more travelogues I run lack of adjectives to describe places, but Guanajuato requires, two simplest adjectives - Colourful and Romantic. Located in the central state that bears the same name, Guanajuato serves as the capital and a major tourist destination in Mexico. The word Guanajuato is derived from "Quanashuato" which would mean "Place of frogs" in native Tarascan language. The city contains very rich silver deposits and historically the highest supplier of silver in the world and also known for the world famous Cervantino festival.

Map of Guanajuato

View Larger Map

We arrived at Guanajuato by bus from Monterrey, an overnight journey traversing Saltillo, Matahuala, San Luis Potosi, Silao and Leon. There are buses and flights (Nearest airport is in the neighbouring city of Leon) from almost all major cities of Mexico. Guanajuato is a mountainous city which is best explored by feet, driving is a serious nightmare for the streets are extremely narrow and parking is forbidden on almost all streets. Buses run frequently and are cheap and convenient, taxis are inexpensive not requiring any price haggling. Due it's mountainous nature, numerous tunnels, lit with faint sodium-vapour lamps, have been cut through for traversing the city.

An epitome of color, intensity and vivacity

The singularity of the city, which strikes almost immediately as you enter, is the colour of the buildings. Like a rainbow, they are painted with rich, profound colors - red, yellow, green, blue, brown and many more. The architecture is magnificently colonial throughout the city and seems that it was primarily designed for the horse carts and not the motored vehicles. The roads are cobblestoned at many places, countless narrow alleys and staircases emanates from the pavements leading to inner roads. Guanajuato has a pleasant climate all through the year, one of the reason for it to be a tourist attraction.

Plaza de la Paz and Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

Things to see/do...
The best part of visiting Guanajuato is that you don't really have to see or do anything specific, it would be delighting to just get lost and ramble around in the narrow alleyways which would take you back in time to the days of glorious colonial period. You happen to see artists selling their pieces of work on the street, street musicians playing exquisite traditional music which would set the listeners in motion.

An unknown colonial styled building

For the less romantic mortals, Museo de Momies is the right choice. The entrance to this place a place of dreadful mummies cost 50 pesos (Rs. 200). They don't look nice like their embalmed Egyptian counter-parts but are direful with the dry rotten skin cladding the skeleton, holed and torn at some places. The heads are covered with ugly masses of tangled hair with blank hollow eyes giving them a scary outlook. There are sections where such mummified babies are kept, the faces of which are still in good shape and most of them are not naked which makes them look less horrific. It takes less than an hour for traversing this desecrated museum.

University of Guanajuato

The city center has some good things in store for everybody. University of Guanajuato has a grand building and tall stairs which would make everybody pant and perspire by the time you reach the entrance. As we stood at the entrance, we had an immense desire to study in such a university with such brilliant view from a brilliant edifice. The triangular garden "Jardín de la Unión" at the downtown is very well maintained and is surrounded by restaurant's on two sides and a Templo de San Diego, known for La Estudiantina (student minstrel group) music, on the third side. The famous Teatro de Juarez is located just next to Templo de San Diego, though we didn't get time to enter the theater. It's the right place for nocturnal creatures, Guanajuato Grill and El Capitolio are at stones throw away from the garden which are well known night clubs. Located at center are Plaza de la Paz and Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, two frequently photographed buildings of colorful and old fashioned grandeur. Mercado Hidalgo is an ancient market, estd. 1910, which sells souvenirs, food and other sundries.

Grand statue of El Pípila

A visit to Guanajuato without seeing El Pípila is as worthless as conjurer's gold. El Pípila is a gigantic statue atop the mountain built in memory of Juan Jose de los Reyes Martinez, the local hero of Guanajuato. During the first war of Mexican Independence, Juan Jose, nick named Pípila, set ablaze the door of Alhondiga de Granaditas where the Spaniards were hiding. One can either take funicular cars (costs 12 pesos one way, 24 both) or use the staircase for going uphill. The most beautiful vista of Guanajuato unveils itself as you start ascending; from the summit, the whole city lies naked like an epitome of color, intensity and vivacity. Among the bald yellow mountains at the horizon, lies one of the most beautiful Mexican cities, with colonial cupolas and splendid colorful little houses, turrets and towers, green gardens and blue skies with artistic clouds. A perfectly romantic scene set for lovers, artists and photographers. The entire panorama becomes doubly beautified at twilight once the lights are switched on.

Kids near El Pípila

Presa de la Olla is a dam built during colonial period to satiate the water needs of the town and now is a touristic attraction. There is a reservoir which is now used by romantic or family type of tourists for boating, but I would not recommend this place as a must visit. Though it has many tiny roadside restaurants serving cheap and tasty Gorditas and Quesadillas.

Food is Gunajuato deserves a special mention. I would recommend the travellers to try Enchiladas mineras, the typical food of Guananjuato. It is cheese and chicken rolled inside red tortillas served with potatoes and fried chicken leg, and when eaten with salsa makes you crave for more. Apart from enchiladas, Gorditas and Quessadillas are found almost everywhere are tastes sumptuous. Restaurant Vangogh at centro (on one of the sides of Jardín de la Unión) dishes out tasty food with attractive budget. Most restaurants serve food outside, on the pavements where you can give serenades to your special ones with Mariachis present there or get yourself caricatured by the artists. As we started our dinner, we saw a forlorn old lady came next to us and started dancing to the tunes of Mariachi, she danced with such fervid enthusiasm that the entire crowd started applauding to her pelvic thrusts she belted out every now and then.

Members of La Estudiantina

I certainly feel, though the debate continues, that Guanajuato is THE most beautiful city in Mexico. It's lovely beyond all words. One has to visit the place to know how romantic and beautiful it is, the article and photographs are no good for getting the clear picture. I would highly recommend this place for travelers, you never know, you may become an artist.

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