There is a storybook quality to my stay here in Guanajuato, Mexico, this summer that is worth noting, I think. On my walks to and from el centro, I often bump into characters from books – books for both children and adults – that make me wonder, “Where am I? Disneyland? Dreamland? Fantasyland? Neverland? Wonderland? All of the above?”
Take, for example, the pretty little princesses I encounter on my walks — all very earnest about their roles:
Or passing The Man of La Mancha, seemingly striding out of a doorway near the Teatro Juarez:
Or other lifelike bronze statues, like guitarists on street corners, whom everyone is ignoring.
Or real, live fellows who captivate tourists from Mexico City on weekends by pretending to be statues.
The system of deep, dark, solid stone tunnels running through and under this city, designed to alleviate car traffic in the downtown area, bring to mind the Rabbit Hole in Lewis Caroll’s 1865 classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Going through these terrifying tunnels in the back seat of a taxi, I hold my breath until I see the light at the end. It’s a lesson in faith.
Faith, or maybe fantasy.
Remember how Alice shrank? Well, at a recent art exhibit in the Plaza de la Paz you could see many-times-larger-than-life depictions of beloved Diego Rivera (whose hometown this is) and his renown wife Frida Kahlo that made you feel shrunken.
Back in my own hometown of Taos, New Mexico, I used to judge how badly I needed a haircut by how much I was beginning to resemble Alice in Wonderland. I’d explain to my hairdresser, Marie, that I thought it inappropriate for a woman my age to look “Alice-in-Wonderland-y.” Here and now, however, I’m letting my hair grow and grow. I’m living in a timeless storybook world. I am Alice.