Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hasta Luego San Miguel de Allende

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It has been such a great month here on so many levels ….. from the early morning wake up calls of pealing church bells, which I quite enjoy, to the mishmash sounds of cars and trucks revving up, dogs barking, roosters cockadoodling, loud conversations, all seemingly right under my bedroom window, at all times of the day, but particularly, just as I am trying to get to sleep ๐Ÿ™‚ … not quite as enjoyable! …. but aaaah well, part and parcel of the tapestry and spice that make up life in Mexico! ….. there are fireworks sparking and lighting up evening skies, margarita popcorn film nights, musical concerts in canyons and private gardens, leisurely cafe brunches, explorations of nearby towns … Delores Hidalgo, Pozos, Guanajuato …. yoga on outdoor patios or thought provoking lectures at the library …. so yes, all in all, a wonderful month!! As we contemplate a return to the ‘normalcy’ of our lives back in Calgary, perhaps a touch of sadness intervenes as we pack up to leave this welcoming interesting culturally rich town …. we return to Calgary’s relentless winter, never that pleasant, the older one gets! The temperatures hover pretty much where they were a month ago! I remind myself that I do enjoy a walk in brisk weather at times, so will dig out my Ugg boots and woollies from the suitcase in preparation ๐Ÿ™‚

Although our feet are well conditioned to San Miguel’s cobblestoned, obstacle laden streets, it is still very necessary to look down more that up, to avoid tripping on the zillions of uneven surfaces!! We all walk with what I have coined, the San Miguel gait ๐Ÿ™‚ … a kind of conscious cautious walking!

There remains a consistent supply of delightful surprises behind these ubiquitous San Miguel doors ….. What appears to be a simple wooden door, can open to the most charming cafรฉs, concert halls, peaceful churches, shops of all description, art galleries, beautiful home gardens surrounding equally beautiful homes, small theatres, wine shops, cheese and olive shops, carpentry workshops … I chanced to look through a particularly attractive door one afternoon to find caskets stacked helter skelter inside! One evening I picked up fresh hot buns for dinner from a young fellow selling from the back of his pick up truck, baskets laden with all manner of baked goods! A very artistic, somewhat intellectual vibe runs through this small group of expats that make San Miguel their winter home …. There appears to be a disproportionate number of artists, musicians, sculptors, authors, film makers that seem to be drawn to the energy of San Miguel. One can take in a talk on just about anything at the local Biblioteca, the expat hub, or go on an art walk, visit artists in their galleries, who are more than happy to stop and chat and share their art and lives with total strangers who can quickly become friends. It is not at all unusual during our daily walks about town, to bump into someone we have met at some function or another …. a small town characteristic that I find most refreshing, is that most everyone takes time for a chat during just such encounters …. no rushing around!

We have enjoyed so many great films here … alternative films that barely garner an audience in North America … margarita popcorn movie nights will remain one of many favourite memories for Bev and I! We meet together with about 15 other people to share a small theatre room, where the owner supplies everyone with a drink of choice …. always a margarita for Bev and I ๐Ÿ™‚ and a small bag of popcorn! Our last film was about the abolition of slavery in Britain … “Amazing Grace”, the story of William Wilberforce, the force behind the abolition movement … A remarkable young man and a very uplifting story …

I share some of our San Miguel memories and moments below, captured via my mediocre at best photographic skills but captured they are, nonetheless …. we really enjoyed sharing some of our time with Elizabeth and her husband Ken, Calgarians who have lived abroad in Indonesia over a dozen years … Donna from Nova Scotia, who lived and worked in Russia for a time … Francoise who is truly a global citizen, having worked or explored around the world and calls Washington D.C. area her home for part of the year ….. did not take long for us to feel like old friends … we bonded while sharing stories of our combined travels over memorable meals together. Special friendships were forged with our home housekeeper Vicky and some of her family …, daughter Guillermina, husband Hector and their five year old child Grecia …. Bev’s exemplary Spanish skills played a major role in this …. essential in forging a relationship with a Mexican family! … I limped along with my scattering of greetings …. Bev’s husband Dave visited for a week and is just as fluent in Spanish ….. I was amazed daily with how well they both communicated with the local people. They have studied Spanish for many years and continue to do so in Canada as well … truly inspiring!

So comes the end to a memorable month …. my bags are packed, leaving me free to savour the day ….. Bev has yoga and a few massages booked while I have opted to wander these now familiar streets, perhaps make a stop at the Biblioteca or sit a spell on a bench in the Jardin, in front of the Parroquia one last time, breathing in the sights, scents and sounds, savouring the magic that is San Miguel de Allende ….. Hasta la Luego dear little Mexican city … til we meet again!

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San Miguel Continues to Enchant ….

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After three weeks of experiencing life in this central region of Mexico, it becomes apparent that the people of San Miguel love a good celebration!! Only the barest of excuses is required to host a fiesta. The area is well known for it’s host of festivals that can easily reach 30 a year and those are just the main festivals!! Bev and I are rarely sure exactly what is being celebrated … the drumming and singing often start in the early morning and conclude with fireworks late at night! We relish and savour this joyful ambiance of a celebratory people …. I was in a shop one afternoon recently, when I heard singing and the music of a mariachi band building up out in the street. I took a peek outside just as a mob of people marched by, carrying a casket high over their heads ….. they were heading to a burial ground nearby, singing and celebrating a life!! Amazing …. it would appear from birth to death, the Mexicans sing and celebrate! A few days prior, I took a local bus and yes ….. there he was, guitar in hand, an entertainer, singing on the bus as I chugged along ๐Ÿ™‚

Posting a few pictures of our meanderings and explorations … Bev’s husband Dave joined us this past week … we enjoyed a walk to the Canyon de la Vergen Pyramids nearby, and exploring the colonial city of Guanajuato, home of Mexico’s artist extraordinaire, Diego Rivera, life partner of Mexico’s other celebrated artist, Frida Kahlo. What a tumultuous love affair this multi talented pair of artists had, both in and out of marriage …. lives full of Mexican temper, vim and vigour!!

Met up with a lively group of Canadian ladies one afternoon to explore Delores Hidalgo region, birthplace of Mexican Independence. Jan at 91 was the oldest of us but could easily pass for someone twenty years her junior on attitude alone! I surmised her philosophy to be something along the lines of “get out there and live your life, laugh lots and don’t complain :)” …… nothing less, nothing more! …. Well, alrighty then Jan, will do!!

Mexico’s first indigenous President, Benito Juarez was credited with the declaration of independence for Mexico but it was apparently Father Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende who really got the rebellion underway and were crucial in this uprising to rid the country of European dominance! All hold hero status in this country … with good reason! Love learning as I explore!

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Settling into San Miguel

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Barely a week has gone by, but already this little Mexican city has wrapped it’s welcoming arms around us, becoming our home away from home. Bev and I have become accustomed to the sounds of the street, perhaps most noticeable at night when trying to get to sleep! People endlessly talking, sharing their days with family, right under our windows it seems :), dogs barking, relentless ringing of church bells, fireworks going off for various celebratory occasions, children chattering, trucks gearing up and down, delivering goods, picking up trash (an early morning sound) and just the basic street traffic … all unfamiliar to both Bev and I, living rural as we do in Calgary, where quiet rules, broken only by the sound of coyotes yipping at night.

Most of our waking hours are spent in the outdoors …. walking everywhere, exploring the cobbly streets, museums, churches, the outdoor produce markets, craft fairs, the myriad of interesting shops displaying all manner of handmade goods and enjoying meals at charming outdoor cafรฉs sprinkled throughout the city. Francoise informs there are over two hundred restaurants of varying sorts in San Miguel! … we do not have a car and have yet to utilize the bus or taxi services. Found a suitable yoga class a few days ago, held of course, on an outside patio! Heaven! Alejandro, our instructor, is a gentle, soft spoken, highly spiritual young Mexican … the yoga studio is a short five or ten minute walk from our Casa! We have met up with Francoise and Donna a few times for meals and an ‘art walk’ yesterday through the Fabrica la Aurora, once the main textile factory for the area, now basically a series of art galleries and shops. We continue to enjoy the ambiance of a very friendly community of expats that make San Miguel their winter home. A few days ago, we took in an interesting talk at the local Buddhist Meditation Centre, hosted by an American, Kiranda Benjamin, an ordained Buddhist monk. Kiranda shared her experiences and insights on solitary silence retreats she has taken over the years. A plan is underway to go on a year long silence retreat this summer to the Sudarshanaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre, a 250 acre wilderness camp in the Coromandel Peninsula in Northern New Zealand …. interesting to hear a different perspective on life …. chatterers that we are, Bev and I find even the thought of retreat into silence for a whole year somewhat incomprehensible …. guess we are just not monk material ๐Ÿ™‚

Over the years, travelling around our beautiful world as I have been fortunate to do, I have noted that celebrations and particularly religious ones, are frequent in countries with Latin roots! …… and so it was this Friday in San Miguel! …. this celebration called “Lord of the Conquest” …. celebrates the introduction of Christianity to the early Mexican inhabitants ….. It was a merging of their ancestry with Christianity, hence all the traditional dancing, drumming and costumes … the marching and dancing had started in the early morning hours …. we were still asleep ๐Ÿ™‚ …. After breakfast, we made our way to Jardin Square, in front of the Parroquia to enjoy the festivities. Colourful beyond belief, with participants dressed in the most amazingly beautiful, intricately beaded, feathered costumes … A veritable Native Mardi Gras!! Not surprising, a little girl Aliana’s age, dancing alongside her mother, captivated me … she tried hard to mimic her mom …. so cute to watch, but still preferred jumping up and down for the most part, just like Aliana :)!!! The dancing and drumming continued long into the evening …. a truly spectacular day. We spent hours in the square just breathing in the atmosphere.

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