San Miguel de Allende – Part 6, Exploring
Even after staying here a month, there are lots of places that we did not get to. We saw our fair share of restaurants and enjoyed some very fine Mexican cuisine. We saw lots of galleries with beautiful paintings, ceramics, carvings, fabric arts, and so on. Sorry, Artists don’t like it when you take photos. We enjoyed just walking around and seeing the odd little details like the door knockers and statues on homes, market streets with kitschy booths.
Around the outskirts of the city, the streets are a bit wider and there are actual sidewalks. The cobblestones are replaced with smooth asphalt, but every 100 feet or so, there are massive speed bumps to slow things down. Big box stores and businesses start to appear, with parking lots attached. Keep going until you reach the top of the canyon and there are huge tracts of desert between the mountain ridges.
At the top of one of these canyons is the Jardin Botanica. Mexico has more cacti than any other country in the world, and most varieties are represented here. Most are native to the area, but many have been carefully transplanted and nurtured. Follow the trails past the many stands of cacti and trees with their neat labels. Tour the lush greenhouse with a little gurgling brook that flows between the displays. Hike the trails around the reservoir and across the face of the edge of the gorge below that used to house a water wheel. The day is hot and still and the shady benches are much appreciated by the old Gringos.
On a Sunday afternoon, in a rolling desert valley far out into the mountains, we find a party. This is the Zandunga Hacienda. Get your tickets early because they do sell out. Low stone walls support shiny corrugated metal roofs and snapping canvass sun screens. By 1:30 the stream of retired Gringos is steadily filling up the tables. Waiters scamper between tables with trays laden with drinks. The buffet opens up and the line forms. Facing the prospect of all-you-can-eat goodies, the Gringos stack up the plates. After a little while, the music starts; some Spanish guitar, smooth and sweet, a little mariachi. Then the Band takes the stage and, after considerable tuning and other foreplay, launch into some pretty tight Gringo rock. The music is USA 70s, 80s, 90s. Given the age group attending, the music is perfect and much dancing is attempted. The final encore of “La Bamba” seals the deal and the crowd trails slowly out to the waiting cars and taxis.
Our stay in Mexico is about over. Soon we will be headed back to the USA, back to Houston to get our car, back to our wandering ways. We met a lot of people in SMA who fell in love with it and moved right in. Many others return year after year. Would we? Marylu would, but I don’t think so. For me, winter in SMA is much too dry and dusty. Constant parched nose and throat. Too hilly. Anywhere you go is a climb. This is a mountain village with a small, hilly downtown, surrounded by steep hills peppered with close-set homes, built on cheese grater ski slope roads. And finally, there is a feel about the city that makes me a little claustrophobic. All of the buildings are little concrete fortresses, barred up, sealed off, hidden away from the rest of the world. I crave picture windows, double wide glass doors, spaces between buildings, level sidewalks, yards with grass and flowers and no walls sealing them in.
Next up: Shreveport, Louisiana