Guanajuato, Guanajuato – Subterranean horror

Guanajuato, seat of government of the state of the same name, shall be worth seeing. It was fixed on our agenda, but again things change. Already when entering the outskirts wildly waving young men try to stop us. Once we do so, they climb on our truck without being asked, want to heap a lot of information on our head in a strong Spanish dialect and mumble something the campground we want to go to doesn’t operate. The situation is obscure, so we take off to town, being irritated. Later in the evening we get to know that those college boys volunteer to bring strangers through the city or a particular destination, but of course they have to be tipped and they might work as touts for certain hotels, restaurants, or campgrounds. Anyway, we only have to seats – should I have taken one on my lap? This city is said to be impossible for strangers to find their way when being here for the first time. But this we can’t know yet.

We rely on our two GPS where we inserted the coordinates of the campground. It works until the two of them disagree at a junction, we follow the wrong advice, and from now on events come thick and fast. It gets dark around us. One of my travel guides informs that in 1965 a dry riverbed under the city was converted into a street tunnel system to reduce the city’s traffic problems. The road winds for kilometres underground like in a maze. The last sentence in my travel guide is: “It is very dangerous and not recommended for visitors.” What does this statement want to tell me? I might know soon.

There was no warning sign, nothing that states height, width or weight limits. We drive into the unlit tunnel that soon splits up being a one-way then. The walls right and left get closer, unfortunately the ceiling does as well. It is all one-way, no possibility to turn round, and the traffic behind us pesters. Joerg races panic-stricken through the pitch-dark underground, hoping that none of the old beams juts out more than the others. The tunnel splits up again and again, and we have to decide in seconds which way to go to not get stuck in a narrower or obstructed tube. Sometimes Joerg pulls the steering around hard since in one of the tunnels people wash their cars, and that doesn’t seem to be the right way. What a strange world under the earth is this!

The blue and white bus signs are a bit of consolation. As long as we are on the bus route, there are at least no width problems. We can only hope that the height is enough, since the busses are a bit lower than Arminius. On the rare occasions a tunnel is briefly interrupted and daylight penetrates the darkness, I stick my head out of the window and try to establish how much space we have left at the upper outer edges. It doesn’t seem to be much, some centimetres. At least. That lasts for kilometres, every moment we expect a scratching, scraping sound, and a solar panel to splinter into thousand fragments. But nothing happens, and after ages daylight appears. Our gooseflesh would bring honour to any poultry.

But it’s not over yet. Two policemen at their car wave us to the right, but our GPS say left. We ignore the officers, but then I have a feeling the GPS want to bring us back into the tunnel system. There’s another policeman, and we stop as a precaution. He thinks we don’t fit through the tunnels and directs us back to the police car. I doubt that the other tunnel is really lower than the first one, but I don’t attach value to figure this out. With flashing blue lights the squad car escorts us out of town to the ring road. Always those stupid tourists, they might think. But it would have been helpful if there had been some officers on the other side of town – instead stupidly waving teenagers.

Herewith our Guanajuato adventure ends. We turn our back on this probably beautiful, but somehow unpleasant city.

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