So I actually managed to have it both ways today... I painted and I got to the museums. I was off very early to Santa Rosa, which is about 15 miles up into the mountains, the precise geographical center of nowhere. I took a cab, since the bus service is not all that regular. I also knew full well that it was a little risky getting back, since there was NO chance that a cab would be there (I´d asked at the hotel desk).
My risk was well rewarded with several stunning vistas. The town itself is nothing more than a street with buildings on either side that winds a quarter of a mile up the hill. This is hardcore countryside. I had to share the street with donkeys and goats, and had to pick my steps carefully to avoid the small brown packages they were leaving behind. The whole place was a cacophany of animal sounds, and everywhere the smell of things cooking and burning. It was wonderful. I found a little plaza where the shopkeeper said I could paint (I always try to ask permission where possible, which with my awful spanish is kinda fun: I´m looked at as though I have malformed head until it clicks what I´m asking for, and then invariably the person couldn´t be more delighted to give me permission) , and I set up and did 2 sketches. The landscape flows from this point possibly 40 or 50 miles down the valley, and it seems like the earth just vanishes into nothingness. Truly stunning.
I decided to stop at two paintings, packed up my gear, and had just started to walk down the hill to begin asking about when and where the bus came, when the miracle happened. I´m pretty sure that in the 3.5 hours I was working there, 2 or MAYBE 3 cars passed by, one of them the truck from the state public works authority that stopped and wanted to see the paintings (not really speaking the language pretty handily solves the problem of people trying to talk when I´m painting). So... at this most unlikely place, at exactly the moment I need it, and empty cab from Guanajuato just happens to crawl by.
So I hopped in. The cabbie couldn´t have been nicer, and even gave me a spanish lesson.
Getting back to the hotel by 1, I decided I was pretty much out of painting steam (I´ve done 11 in the past 5 days), so I am taking the afternoon off and just wandering. I just saw the Diego Rivera museum, which has some pretty cool things of his one doesn´t normally see... lots of his impressionist and cubist work he did as a 20-something in Paris. The thing I liked best was his set of illustrations of the Popul-Vuh, the Mayan sacred book. It was intriguing, as he adopted all the stereotypical mesoamerican artistic conventions, but it really looked like Diego Rivera too.
For the rest of the afternoon, I don´t know. I´m feeling a little off, so I might just go back to the hotel and rest. I´m trembling at the thought of packing, since it was pretty tight getting here, and I´ve added things to the mix.
But... I have loved being here. This place is one of the gems of the earth, old to its very foundations (it was already old when Boston was still a nasty tidal swamp), and colorful and full of life in ways that just don´t exist north of the border. I´ve done 11 paintings, and of course have only scratched the surface (I would have loved the chance to get down into the valley and paint the views looking up into the mountains), but there may be a next time.
So, Mexico City tomorrow...