Visit to San Miguel

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August 20, 1999: San Miguel de Allende was cool, literally. We had temperatures in the sixties and seventies and had to wear jackets or sweaters at night. I had again a wonderful time in a fairy tale place where the terrain consists of beautiful mountains, the city is a unique and picturesque Mexican national monument adorned with flowers everywhere. The picture on the right will give you an idea of the terrain. It was restful and at the same time, stimulating. Flowers grow in courtyards, in window boxes, or in pots placed on top of buildings. Art galleries in each block tantalize and tempt with color and shape and texture. We caught stepped-back-in-time glimpses of life among the Mexican workers. They walk everywhere up and down the mountains, sometimes with bundles on their heads or tied on to sticks held across their shoulders, or fastened on the backs of burros that they lead up and down the cobblestone streets, headed for the nearby market. Simultaneously, there are sophisticated nationals going about the daily business of running the city and earning their living. The picture below shows the cobblestone street and why one must walk carefully. We usually went to town on foot, walking down the mountain streets with care to keep from tripping on the cobblestones and uneven sidewalks.

I discovered that I am in much better physical shape than I was last year, and was able to walk much longer on the hilly streets before wanting to call it quits. Going uphill was another matter, I huffed and puffed in the higher altitude. Aubrey offered me a fifty dollar reward if I would walk up the mountain back to the Villa and I told him that five thousand dollars wouldn't be enough, that is how hard that climb is. Fortunately, cabs are everywhere and the fare is reasonable. And yet little old Mexican women and men, and children and nationals of all ages do it regularly. They must have calf muscles of steel!

Here is another typical street scene. Note the window boxes.

The people of the American community are so hospitable that we were invited to two houses for drinks or coffee, and to another for dinner while there. We met or saw again delightful women who described themselves as having "Black Belts in Shopping," and who told us to call them upon arrival next time and they will direct us to the best places to shop. These same people also spend time taking meals to the poor, or working in various social organizations to help those in need in the city. I admire them for not merely succumbing to a life of relative luxury, but also giving of their time and goods for the community.

Here is one of the shops:

Many of the shops close at two for siesta and reopen around four, staying open until around eight.

Last year I was most captivated by the bells of San Miguel from the many churches there. This year, because of the location of our room, I couldn't hear the bells as clearly, but what I did hear was the very loud boom of large fireworks being shot off anywhere from eight in the morning until eight or nine o'clock at night. It seems the locals shoot them off for weddings, when someone is born, or when someone dies, the latter times in order to scare off evil spirits. We did not hear this when we were there in July last year.

I was enchanted by and paid more attention to the town itself this year. I loved the way there would be a few garlands of bright paper streamers hung over a street for some reason, or palms and ribbons and flowers tied to the corner and door posts and window ledges of a house right on the street adjacent to the sidewalk. Below is a picture of one of the beautiful carved doors:

The square is very important; people wait for buses there and the square is covered with dense shade from the trees and there are many benches placed around for people to rest after traversing the hilly streets. A Mariachi band often played in the square and families and friends visited and rested there. The people are very family oriented and one often heard much laughter among the various groups. I enjoyed watching a young national teen-age boy and girl teaching each other new dance steps on the square one night as a trio played guitars and sang.

Near the square is a beautiful Iglesia:

The trees in the lower right of the picture are in the square. Around the square is the most convenient place to catch a taxi, and there is a nice outdoor restaurant on the left where one can stop and get a cool drink and rest a while. Another thing I loved was that one would see some person walking in shabby clothing, yet smiling happily and carrying a beautiful double hibiscus in a pot, apparently on the way home. When we went to have coffee with Cynthia Mason (a friend of Aubrey's whose home I hope to show you in a later entry), we stopped and Aubrey bought some roses for her from the flower vendors shown below. Such vendors were on many of the streets and the roses were so gorgeous. We had two dozen shrimp-colored ones in our bedroom, and there were white roses and huge daisies in the public rooms of the Villa.

Almost every night we ate outside. The schedule is very different from ours at The Lair. Breakfast was served at nine, lunch at two, and dinner was served around nine, or nine thirty if we were at a restaurant. The first night we were there we went to a courtyard that had beautiful plantings and boulders artistically lit, and the three surrounding walls were hung with huge oil paintings of colorful exotic parrots of all kinds. An emaciated starving-artist-type man played the guitar and sang Spanish love songs in a beautiful tenor voice. It was so lovely and romantic; I did not enter into the talk at the table very much. I simply spent the time absorbing the beauty, the peaceful atmosphere, the lovely sounds, the cool air, the outstanding food, and thought what a perfect moment it was and I wanted to remember it. Each night as we sat at the tables at various places, my eyes would fall on the facade of a gorgeous cathedral, or on a lovely patio, on a quaint building or some colorful art and my eyes and spirit as well as my palate had a feast.

I wish I had the writing skills to take you there with me, but San Miguel de Allende cannot be described, it must be experienced.

Despite all the above, it was great to return home, even stepping off the plane into heat that ranged between 109 and 111 degrees that day in Dallas. One of my friends remarked in the midst of our enjoying our various adventures in San Miguel, "I like my life at home." And so do I. I like the serenity and peacefulness of Farris' and my life together as it is now. I like walking through a room in my house, always able to see out a window that has no curtains so that I do not miss a lone deer visiting the watering trough, or the few remaining humming birds passing through on their Fall journey south, or the changing landscape as summer draws to a close. There truly is no place like home!

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

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