A charming hotel flowers in rugged Guanajuato
By Barbara Kastelein Original Print Publication: February, 2009
Four years ago, there was definitely something in the air in Mineral de Pozos.
At the Posada de las Minas hotel, steps, arches, columns, and railings pile upon one another like a drawing by M.C. Escher
Nothing visible was happening in the dusty streets of this ghost town baking in the high plains of Guanajuato, a four hour drive north from Mexico City; but in its empty plazas had appeared newly painted signs, some in Spanish, some English.
With its abandoned mineshafts and clumps of ore glittering amid dusky century plants, the silent town bore an air of desolation that was just a little too picturesque to be true. Light-headed at 7,500 feet above sea level, I saw occasional tidy door plaques and newly-rebuilt walls.
The landscape of Pozos is gritty and gripping, with its two ruined mines. Los Cinco Señores is characterized by its watchtower and a surreal high wall crumbling in the distance, built to prevent landslides. Santa Brígida's landmark is three smokestacks and a cluster of buildings that include a white-and-terracotta hospital and heat-cracked wind tunnels once used to stoke the furnace.
Any travel writer could hear the town screaming with potential but, despite rumors of plans for investment from FONATUR the answer was an inconclusive shrug.
On this recent visit I stayed in the elegant Posada de las Minas hotel and talked with all and sundry—the newest gringo in town who came for breakfast every day to have his eggs done just-so, the heavily pregnant waitress who skipped around like a 12-year-old, a gang of grand dames from Texas, a painter, a messenger, a photographer, a sports coach building a house.
It was the rainy season and the formerly baked yellow stone had a translucent pink sheen, in rich contrast with the foliage. Our suite, richly decorated with colorful folk art, sported heavy leather armchairs on a balcony overlooking the dome of a distant church.
What has re-lit Pozos’ fire? The spark didn't come from any federal or local government sources, but from loving and responsible investment, much from outsiders from the southern US. As has been the case in the development of many of Mexico’s well-established inland treasures, foreign fascination with the place, unselfish dedication to its aesthetics, and contribution to its community are bringing about positive development and a transformation in how the townsfolk see themselves and their home.