I returned from San Miguel de Allende under its spell. I’m not the only one, everyone who goes there, returns, and some pack their bags and move there immediately. A woman I met told me it is because it sits on a rock made of quartz and so it has incredibly healing qualities. That said, I did meet a lot of speculative healing types there. But I’d say San Miguel is one of those places like New Orleans, where people can express the craziness of what is inside them without fear or repercussions.
My trip was seen through divided eyes, by looking at San Miguel through the eyes of ex-pats, wealthy ones mostly, who have fallen in love with the city and have made a second or permanent home there. This is where I was able to see first-hand the incredible craftsmanship of the Mexican laborers – stonework, tiles, incredible mantles, gargoyles, terrazo and terrace, buildings that fit together from magical architecture.
My friend has built a house there and you can see by these few photos below that inside and outside is not your everyday. Each roof terrace has a spectacular garden filled with succulents and bougainvillea so bright it dazzles your eyes. I told one of the people I met that each day they went to the roof they needed to give thanks to all of their neighbors who provided them with an incomparable view because of the well tended potted plants and flowers.
The colors of Mexico are vibrant and best observed under the bright white light of a Mexican city like San Miguel de Allende. Every flower blooms extra bright, every cloth is more colorful than any you have seen before. It’s a riot of color that explodes in every nook and cranny of this city, up and down, and all around.
There is a large hotel resort in the middle of Centro called Rosewood and for as little as $30 (all inclusive) you use the pools and jacuzzi, order poolside service of drinks and food and basically luxuriate galore in a manmade but so beautifully landscaped place that you never want to leave.
Each view is more incredible than the next because San Miguel is hilly and surrounded by a mountain range, Los Picachos, where on top of one high peak sits a Catholic Church with the largest statue of Christ (larger than the one in Rio) imaginable. Most every day I would look out from the terrace of the house we were renting and see a hot air balloon traversing the blue sky.
But it was the Mexicans that I fell in love with the most, Salvador the driver who picked me up from Leon for an hour and a half drive to San Miguel. He talked to me about his beloved casahuates that bloom white flowers on the branches after they have dropped their leaves. As we drove through desert hills with vernal pools of brilliant yellow wildflowers and fields of hot pink cosmos, he explained the many varieties of cacti; the nopales cactus and the tuna (the berry) that is sometimes so sweet and juicy and other varieties are sour and used in picantes. He also told me more than I wanted to hear about the corruption in politics including but not limited to the 42 college students who were murdered by a mayor who was upset that they had protested – this info was only assuaged by the average Mexican’s incredible joy of life.
Then there was Amalia, who said the most profound thing to me. I was asking her about racism and she said there was not much in San Miguel. I said maybe it’s because there are so few Blacks here and she agreed. She said that generally if a Black person was around, people looked because they were not used to seeing Blacks, but then she acknowledged that “sometimes you injure a person with only your eyes.” Indeed.
When it was sadly time to head home, Salvador and I stopped on the way to the airport, at this strip of food stands in La Sauceda and had an incredible meal. So good, I want to fly back right now for lunch. Handmade corn tortillas and gorditas with pots filled with menudo, chicken in mole, potatoes, barbacoa, pinto beans, and a vat of warm corn juice to drink. Oh my – this was one of my favorites – guess how much lunch for two was? That’s right – $3.50.
If you are going to San Miguel, beware that you might not come back. Keep in mind, mañana doesn’t mean tomorrow, it just means not right now.