Adventure, Andre Sólo, Mexico, Photographs, Travel

When It Rains in Guanajuato (Photo Tale)

So far almost everything I’ve written about Guanajuato, Mexico has been positive. But that was on days when it wasn’t raining. If I had known what it’s like when it rains, what I wrote would have been five hundred times more positive.

Guanajuato in a heavy rain is like an adventure board game. It’s like you’re trying to get across this square and if you don’t roll at least a three you fall in the water trap and lose a turn. Meanwhile someone is spinning a little wheel that changes which alleys you can use this turn and which ones you can’t. If you get trapped in an alley you will be warped to a random fountain somewhere else in the city, which may get you closer to home or farther. Feeling lucky?

And this place is a desert. But it’s the rainy season right now. Usually that just means beautiful days with brief, late afternoon thunder showers. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday while I was working all day, it was gorgeous outside. Thursday when I had errands to do: gorgeous. Today was my free day and crackoom! The storm of the century rolls out of nowhere just as I step out of the public market. Let’s do this, Quetzlcoatl!

You may remember that Guanajuato is a giant spaghetti-shaped mess of narrow, steeply slanted alleys, with staircases going up to mountaintop neighborhoods and steeper stairs descending into the city’s subterranean abyss. It’s serious Shoots & Ladders even on a good day. (Remember, the whole reason the city has a subterranean abyss was to try to stop waves of water rushing down the mountainsides from just blowing it all away once a year.) Now if you take a metric eff-load of water and toss it down the top of one of those streets, the result is that people downstairs better start making saving throws.

It’s awesome.

To put it in perspective, here’s my alley on a normal day:

Photo by André

Photo by André

Here is it about an hour ago:

Photo by André

Photo by André

No problem, I thought. Because my neighborhood has a second entrance, which is much wider. The water shouldn’t be as deep or fast there because it’s spread out more. I’ll just go up the back way!


Photo by André

Photo by André

And my neighborhood isn’t even the worst. Check out the alleys I had to wade past just to get to my own Adventure Island challenge:

Photo by André

Photo by André

Photo by André

Photo by André

The difference between the people in the two pictures is that the lady in the second picture is either really, really desperate to get home or—like me—she doesn’t have a lick of sense in her head. The guy in the first picture knows the score: you use an umbrella and stay inside, because umbrellas won’t actually help you outside. (But yes, based on my experience in the fully roofed public market, you should still keep your umbrella ready when you’re inside.)

Umbrellas don’t help outside because the water comes from all available directions. The streets are no better than the callejones, because all the callejones dump into the streets. You know that thing in the movies where a car speeds through a puddle and shoots water all over the unlucky pedestrian (usually Meg Ryan)? I’ve gone thirty years and never had that happen. I lost my v-card like four times in 20 minutes. No one is slowing down in this city, even when they’re driving up a 45-degree trough with six inch water rushing through it at Niagara speeds.

Photo by André

Te amo Nayeli! If I was Nayeli I’d want my name in a more prominent location. Like try a little.

If you can stay on the sidewalks you’re at least not walking in the white water rapids (which are brown, not white), but narrow passages often require you to close your umbrella, and wide sidewalks are target ranges for roof drains. These drains don’t go down a vertical gutter like in the US, they are just spouts that stick about a meter out from a building and then let ‘er rip like Gulliver after too much coffee.

Spouts shooting criss-crossed pee streams at my alley.

Spouts shooting criss-crossed pee streams at my alley.

All of this was great fun, and I managed to keep a respectable portion of my middle-torso dry. More impressively, at no point was I swept off my feet. Although I was disappointed to discover that my cowboy boots are not waterproof at all. Who makes boots that aren’t waterproof?

Anyway, I think we can all agree that what really matters is I got a plaid umbrella:

Photo by André

Photo by André

…and that’s that new haircut you guys chose! What do you think?


16 thoughts on “When It Rains in Guanajuato (Photo Tale)

    • Heh. I had to think about that one. As far as I can tell, rain just rearranges dirt here… like a bunch of bones showed up near my gate (likely from the local alley cats’ meals). But however you’re imagining the smell, I bet you’re pretty much spot on.

  1. Love them both! The haircut and the plaid umbrella!

    I’ve been meaning to say hi for quite sometime. “Hi!”

    I would read every post you make if I wasn’t working myself to death.

    We lived in Texas for a couple of months and since then I’ve thought myself a Mexican Texan! I love Texas and know I would love Mexico too, though I don’t speak the language. Ah, someday. I felt like I fit in there, sort of, even though I’m whiter than snow. It’s like the people there knew we are the same. Very unlike here, all the cliques and classes I don’t fit into.

    Thank you so much for your inspirational blog! Even when life isn’t the best you make me happier… happier that you’re doing well, happier that I’m not alone, happier that someone else on this planet actually thinks.

    My blog is all fluff, that’s how I wanted it. I’m finding it has tumbleweeds ’cause I just don’t have that much fluff to put in. heheee

    Thank you Drew, or Dré, André. You are a gift to us all. I’m sure a lot of people don’t comment but are reading. It’s hard for us simpletons to comment on such eloquent posts.

    Amazing photos always!

    Yeah, I’m thinking of you as Dré!

    All the best,


    • Ha, Dré works!

      Thanks for all the kind words Carrie… and “Hi” back :] Welcome to Rogue Priest!

      Just curious… which kind of post is it you like so much? The ones where I talk about heroism, or the stories about travel? It’s a pretty eclectic blog, in some ways.

      • You’re welcome and thank you!

        I think the philosophy in your stories is what I like so much. Both heroism and travel types are inspirational so I don’t think I can’t choose.

        “Adventure is a way of life. It is putting your ideas ahead of your abilities, and your dreams ahead of your fears.” That’s from the first post I read of yours, amazingly profound. I keep it on the only page in my blog that isn’t fluff with a link to your blog, the quotes page.

        I agree, it is an eclectic blog. The best!

        Hope you’re having a wonderful day! :-)

  2. Looks like Antananarivo in the rainy season! The skies would open up and seem to drop a lake on you. Some of the bars and restaurants in low-lying areas kept a rowboat by the door to get patrons back to their cars when it flooded.

    • Wait wait… the bar’s going to be surrounded by so much water they need a rowboat to exit… but then where are the cars, exactly? It is even worth getting back to your car at that point?

    • That’s pretty awesome. I think that when your city is located on the mountainside of a canyon in a desert just to cling next to a silver mine, the sustainable answer to flooding is, “Put your city somewhere that’s not the side of a canyon in a desert.” But for most other locations I’m sure there are sustainable solutions :]

    • Thanks :]

      I do, although it’s not what I asked for exactly. The barber took an electric razor and just buzzed off the sides. Lannister’s hair is slightly longer on the sides than mine, and pieced out, which both make it a bit nicer IMO. But my hair grows quickly and it won’t be long before I can try again with someone else. Meanwhile, yes! It took some getting used to but I do like it.

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