MY TIME IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE IS FLEETING BY and I have nothing to complain about. Certainly not the weather, balmy compared to New York’s (though my white pants and tank tops remain in the closet).
After ten days here, with just four to go, my attitude has shifted. Instead of ‘I’ve walked past this corner a dozen times,’ the complexities of the town keep opening inward — like little hole-in-the-wall shops I at first passed by, not realizing there were hand-wrought iron drawer pulls and hinges for sale beyond the religious artifacts and the woman shaving the spines off cactus leaves in front.
Instead of, ‘We’ve already tried that restaurant,’ it’s ‘Let’s go back again and get the [name of different dish] this time.’
Of four people whose names I was given by friends back home, I’ve only managed to meet up with one, and see the dream hacienda she built, with a courtyard garden, an art studio and two or three roof decks, and have a local lunch of chilaquiles (something like nachos but softer and creamier) at a corner cafe that would probably have escaped my notice.
There’s plenty to do here, after all, and I’m not going to get to do it all. The once-a-month architecture tour I finally found out about happens the day I leave; I’ll be on my way to the airport.
It was fortuitous that our stay coincided with the San Miguel Literary Sala, a conference that attracts writers, would-be writers and high-profile instructors from all over the English-speaking world. I did not sign up for the five-day event (what they call the “whole enchilada”), as I did not come to San Miguel to sit in hotel conference rooms, no matter how inspiring the speakers.
But I signed up for a few 2-hour workshops anybody can take, and they have proved terrific. The results of one — billed as ‘Mindful Photography’ — illustrate this post.
We didn’t get the lessons I really needed, like how to take a photo of San Miguel’s magnificent churches and bell towers without their looking like picture postcards, and how to photograph the ice cream man or the lady selling calla lilies without offending them or causing them to go all self-conscious.
Instead, a group of 20 or so simply walked out of the Hotel Real de Minas, where the conference is being held, led by Dinty Moore, a seasoned Ohio-based writer and photographer, and strolled slowly and mindfully down a typical local street, taking time to absorb colors and textures and frame our photos carefully.
Some people had fancy cameras and long lenses. I had my iPhone, and that was just fine.