Sunday, February 26, 2023

San Miguel de Allende - Part Three

Doreen, Dale, Joanne, Heather & Scott
Jeanette, Alan, Heather & Scott. After this picture we struck up a friendship with the fellow on the left from Guatemala. It's easy to meet people in the Plaza!
Corridors lined with art and sculpture wind around the former factory.

We spent our third day at the Fabrica de Aurora at the edge of the city.  What used to be a textile factory today houses canvases, sculptures and artisan products of great artists that live in San Miguel. The factory was an important engine for the labor sector in the textile market from 1920 to 2004 when a number of local artists started the first workshops in there. It's an enormous place, a warren of studios and galleries of all kinds. Remnants of the factory, photos and machinery remain and everything is built around it. 

You can get a feel for the number of galleries!

The chair below is woven plastic and stunning.

The art is so varied. 

There are two cafes as well, both inviting. We chose one in a flower filled courtyard and enjoyed various sandwiches and salads. 

After a refreshing nap back at our villa, we walked down town again to attend a recorder concert in a church. Seven recorder musicians played a large variety of pieces from the 16th C to today. They used an amazing variety of instruments from bass to soprano versions. Several of the performers sang along to some of the pieces. It was great. Afterwards we walked through town to one of Alan and Jeanette's favorite restaurants, Hecho,  and had dinner with their friends John and Doreen and their guests Dale and Joanne. The former bought a house here several years ago and are now permanent residents. They lived in Saudi Arabia for many years and Doreen (Cumberford) wrote a book about her experiences that I plan to read, "Life in the Camel Lane".

The next morning we finally felt acclimated enough to climb up to the Mirador viewpoint above us. It turned out to be closer than we thought but it was steep. As Alan had promised, the view wasn't that different from our rooftop deck, but the streets up and down were very photogenic. When we got back our housekeeper Veronica was already starting to cook lunch. She alternates making breakfast and lunch, and today was a lunch day. On the menu - a meatball soup, meatballs made of beef in a vegetable soup with tortillas. Delicious! We followed that by a nap and then another walk into town to look through the shops and finally get into the Cathedral. Outside Scott couldn't resist buying a little wooden donkey from a street vendor with an adorable little boy. We spent some time listening to two mariachi bands, sometimes in competition. They don't play for free - people hire them. Later in the afternoon we had a pastry and cappuccinos at Campanio, sitting at the open window and enjoying people watching. There are a lot of beautifully dressed non Latino and Latino women in this town! 

Saturday was a lovely day. We walked around again in the morning and then went out to dinner at a beautiful roof top restaurant next to the Cathedral. The food was delicious and so were the marguerites!  Afterwards we walked over to the central plaza and ran into our new friends, Doreen, Dale and Joanne. It's a small town! So tomorrow we head north to Queretero, where we'll stay two nights at the Gran Hotel in the historic district. But that's for my next post.

Alan, Jeanette and Scott at the concert

Six of the seven musicians made my camera
frame (from my seat)

This artist's gallery was my favorite

A book about the artist Manolo Cocho, an 
example of his work is on the left.

There is a lot of fantastic whimsical sculpture on
display all over the center. 

The "gradual" route up to the Mirador viewpoint
The view from the top
Looking down the "steep" route - the picture
is very deceptive - it was much steeper in 
Looking up - we had to use the railing!
The Cathedral has many chapels, one large one in the bell tower and other small ones off this main room
These Maracchi players are for

In this case by a family to celebrate their daughter's
birthday. Everyone in the crowd came up to hug
her and sometimes for a brief dance.
From our seat watching the musicians we could
look across to the Cathedral
Scott couldn't resist this woman and her little son
selling small wooden donkeys with dried flowers.

Jeanette and Veronica

Friday, February 24, 2023

Walkabouts in San Miguel - Part Two in Mexico


Many of the walls are covered with bouginivilla
or vines cascading from the roof tops.

Iron balconies are draped in flowers and pots with
others line up on the roofs. 

Some of the streets, like this one leading up 
to our villa, are so narrow that when a car
passes you have to hide in a doorway!

Street vendors are everywhere - here one selling

We've been doing a lot of walking here. To be honest, mostly the downhill and level sections. Scott and I cheat and take a taxi back up to our hillside villa. Between the altitude and the cobblestone streets we get plenty of exercise! Our first full day Jeanette and Alan took us for a tour around the central part of the city. 

Church of the Immaculate Conception

The interior was very beautiful

Looking up into the dome.

The Oratorio de San Felipe Neri

The Iglesia de San Francisco

There are a lot of churches, one seemingly around every corner. But this is known as an artist's colony and no surprise as there is a gallery on every block downtown and outside. The Esquela de Bellas Artes or El Nigromante was founded in the late 1930's by American artist and writer Stirling Dickinson and Peruvian artist and writer Felipe Cossio del Pomar. It is housed in the former Sisters of the Conception convent and is still vibrant today. This and other art institutions began to attract American exchange students who came to live here or later to retire. It also houses art exhibits, classrooms for all the arts and music. 

Jeanette appears to be holding up the ceiling
when photographed through the metal sculpture.

One room dedicated to the unfinished mural by
David Alfraro Siqueiros.


One hall of the old convent is dedicated to a mural by David Alfraro Siqueiros, along with students from the art school, but it was never finished. It features a metal sculpture that takes an unusual photo when you squat down and photograph through it at a friend. Another great place is the Biblioteca Publica which serves as the community center for San Miguel's large foreign population. The library was founded by Helen Wade, a Canadian, who wanted to reach out to local children. The library has a cafe, sponsors tours and prints a bilingual newspaper. It also sponsors educational programs for local youth including scholarships, donations of school supplies and free English and computer classes for children.

Vibrant murals cover the walls of the huge

Another whimsical mural there.

There is a concert hall as well

And a big children's library

I love the thousands of doorways throughout the city leading into homes and shops. When they are open we can peak into the private courtyards and of course, enter the commercial establishments! I'll end today's post with a few photos. There is still at least one more post before we fly back to Texas.

Here a glimpse into a private home

Probably a small hotel, formerly a private

And a intriguing shop

Here a simple home is adorned by a mural
Lots of bougainvillea but since it's the dry 
season, rather dusty
Another glimpse into a private home!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

San Miguel de Allende - Part One

This is the view from the our bedroom over our second from the top terrace at sunset. 

This is the view from the top terrace up above our bedroom just after sunset. We had our drinks and dinner up there on our second night!

We have landed in a little part of heaven called San Miguel de Allende. The city's name derives from two persons, the 16th C friar Juan de San Miguel, and Ignacio Allende, a martyr of the long war of independence from the Spanish. The old section of town is a World Heritage Site and very beautiful. Set on the Central Mexican Plateau at 6200 feet the narrow cobblestone streets range up and down hills around the central plaza and parks. 

The house has a series of terraces connected by
many stairs. This photo looks up from the first
terrace with the winding stairs leading up first
to our room (that's one of the balconies top
left) and then up to the roof top terrace.

Now you are looking back down! Steep going...

Jennette sets out our dinner up on the rooftop

Now you are looking back at the table with Scott
and Alan.

Our former neighbors and friends from Brookline, Alan and Jeannette Feuer, have been spending part of the winter here for the last few years and invited us for a visit. Their rented home is high on the hill and overlooks the city. It's drop dead gorgeous as you can see from the photos. There are 5 bedrooms and baths. We picked the one at the end of many, many stairs and if not the most beautiful room I've ever slept in, it's in the top 3!  Our room has 3 sets of French doors with balconies. 

We flew from Dallas on Monday arriving around 1:30 to meet our shuttle driver, reserved in advance. It was about an hour drive from Queretaro to San Miguel and he dropped us off right at their door. After getting settled we walked into the center of town for drinks and dinner at roof top La Azotea restaurant - wonderful margarita's! The central plaza and San Miguel de Allende Cathedral were magical.

The Cathedral "Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel" was built in the 17th century with a typical Mexican fa├žade but rebuilt in 1880 in the neo Gothic style by Zeferino Gutierrez, an indigenous bricklayer and self-taught architect. 

Walking down the hill was reasonably easy but we were really happy to take a taxi back up to the house. It is quite warm during the day, getting up to 80, but cools down considerably at night. I was glad to have a jacket with me.  The next morning it was wonderful to draw the curtains and reveal the views as you can see. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast before starting out for a walking tour of the downtown area. Which I'll cover on my next post!

One of the side balconies in our bedroom.

And the one that faces the town

Looking over the terrace to our neighbor.

Breakfast the next morning. They have a house-
keeper and a gardener. There must be six sets of
tables and chairs scattered around the property!

Delicious huevos rancheros