Finding My Rhythm in San Miguel

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DOWN JACKET. Thick wooly socks. Cashmere and corduroy. Hat, gloves. If you’re thinking of coming to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in mid-winter, put those on your list.

They’re on my list for next time — and the good news is, there might be a next time, despite the unseasonable chill.

This place is pretty great. Church bells tolling constantly, for what I don’t know. Friendly people, both Mexican (buenos dias, buenos tardes, buenos noches — got that down pat) and American (hi, hey, how are ya).

I love walking the stone-paved streets in the early morning on my way to Antonio’s yoga class at Lifepath, admiring the local habit of sweeping and washing down the sidewalks to start the day off right.

A 3-hour-long historical walking tour, mostly of churches and the haciendas built around the central park, or Jardín, in the late 17th and early 18th century, was a great orientation. We ended at Bellas Artes, a cultural center in a historic convent, admiring social-realist and abstract murals by David Siqueros, one of the great Mexican muralists (along with Diego Rivera).

I had my boots shined in a park by an old-school shoeshine man, after a morning of walking the dusty paths of El Charco, the 200+-acre botanical garden on a dramatic site atop a canyon outside of town, where native plants remain untouched and cacti and other plants from elsewhere in Mexico are brought to be ‘rescued’ when sprawl or construction threaten their habitat.

Eating out three times a day is entirely possible here on a budget of $25 (including margaritas). We’ve discovered some good restaurants and numerous casual cafes, almost all of which have courtyards for alfresco dining and some of which have fireplaces for warming our frozen hands.

The best for classic Mexican food so far: Hecho in Mexico, with Toller Cranston’s circus-like paintings and Chihuly-like glass chandeliers in five gilded rooms. The most sophisticated: Aperi, owned by Mexico’s Top Chef winner, where we sampled sensational Mexican wines that deserve to be better known in the U.S., and I had glazed tomatoes with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Other local spots where I could happily become a regular: Cafe de la Parroquia for breakfast and Lavanda for lunch.

As I type this, I’m sitting at Cafe Santa Ana in the open courtyard of La Biblioteca (the sun is shining and it’s warmed up a bit), a bi-lingual library that serves as a de facto gathering spot for the huge expat community. A guitarist is strumming unobtrusively, joined occasionally by a floating flute; the only other sounds are the stone fountain burbling and voices speaking American-accented English on all sides.

San Miguel de Allende is a bubble, as my travel companion put it. Though to outward appearances, it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, it was adopted by arty Americans after WWII, helped along by the fact that the Instituto de Allende, the town’s well-known art school, was accredited to accept the GI Bill, and both Esquire and Life magazines ran big spreads in the late 1940s (one featuring a nude female sunbather) that served as advertisements for the town.

And the weather, so they say, is warm and sunny.

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About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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9 Responses to Finding My Rhythm in San Miguel

  1. Astor C says:

    Lovely photographs. How’s the silver jewelry, Ca?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So glad you’re liking it. It’s a place I’ve visited several times and expect to go again in the next year or two. Enjoy the rest of your time.xx

  3. Lula says:

    Sounds divine. Looks sublime! Glad you found your rhythm. You’re missing the arctic blast up here and I would dearly love to be exploring those lovely stone paved streets!

  4. Mary-Liz Campbell says:

    Exquisitly written and photographed. I am in awe of your talent. XxxML

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5. Justine Cullinan says:

    I’m glad you got your groove back — the pictures and prose afforded a lot of pleasure in chilly Queens …

  6. Stacie Sinder says:

    Ditto to all comments above — love traveling virtually with you! And only one week left!

  7. literarybrooklyn says:

    Since we have had mostly any shade of gray you could possibly fancy here in NYC for the past week or so, these pictures and your travelogue smeared balm all over my color-deprived soul. I knew you’d find a way to connect. xo

  8. lillian demauro says:

    Wondering what to do in SMA?

    Hi Cara, Should you decide to attend and by any chance meet the director, Dorothy Lyman, please tell her hello from Lillian and let her know I know you through your Old House Blog. A blog, by the way, that I always enjoy, thank you, Lillian

    *The Players Workshop and Stuffed Olive, Inc. presentENEMY * Directed by two-time Emmy® Award winner *Dorothy Lyman* Thursday – Saturday, February 11 – 13 and 18 – 20 at 7pm Sunday, February 14 & 21 at 5pm

    San Miguel Playhouse Independencia #82 Tickets Click Here!

    On Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 9:43 PM, c a s a C A R A ~ Old Houses for Fun & Profit wrote:

    > cara posted: ” DOWN JACKET. Thick wooly socks. Cashmere and corduroy. Hat, > gloves. If you’re thinking of coming to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in > mid-winter, put those on your list. They’re on my list for next time — and > the good news is, there might be a next ti” >

  9. Lola Ferris says:

    I’m torn between envy and sheer delight going through your gorgeous photos. Better than an ad – I think I’ll plan a trip for next year.

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