Callejón del Beso – Alley of the KissFebruary 14th, 2013 | Posted by in Celebrations | Mexico | The Places We've Been
Mexican folklore tells a tragic story of two lovers in Guanajuato drawn closer to one another and then ultimately to their demise from their balconies across a callejón. Callejóns (ka-yay-hones) are a manner of connecting places in the city and walking them is often the primary method of transportation as very few roads passable by car exist. Most are narrow, stone walkways often with stairs as the city is set in a basin, and with doors to homes all along them. We will most certainly be writing about and photographing the subject in greater detail in the future. For the sake of this tale though, it is only important to know that the callejón of which we speak today is so very narrow that the balconies nearly touch.
As old tales often go, the names and exact details in the saga of the Callejón del Beso come in all shapes and sizes despite the consistent claim that they are based on a true story. The general account is of young lovers from different backgrounds who seek to be together. He rents the apartment across the callejón from which they can reach across, speak sweet nothings, and of course, share a kiss. When her father finds out though, he responds in rage, killing her or possibly him or maybe both. Some versions say she takes a dagger to the heart from dear old dad and her lover kisses her cold, dead hand from across the callejón, while others involve the young man being thrown from the balcony and falling to his death on the stairs upon trying to save (or run from – same thing, right?) her.
Last night, on the eve of el Día de San Valentín, we strolled through plazas full of vendors selling heart shaped trinkets, red balloons, and compulsory bouquets and passed the lines around the blocks of obviously devoted Catholics waiting outside of each church to receive their artistically drawn mark of ash, to visit what is now referred to as the Callejón del Beso. The well-known spot is flanked by giftshops, but that seems unimportant considering the nature of love in the place. We took our photo, stole a kiss, climbed the stairs to the balcony, and reached across to touch the stone on the other side. Somewhere, I think Russell Crowe was screaming, Gladiator-style, “Is this not romance? Is this not why you are here?”
Happy Valentine’s Day from the Vangabonds. May you each be filled with the love the world celebrates today on every day of the coming year.