Vita sine litteris mors es. (Life without study is death.)–San Felipe Neri, San Miguel de Allende
Setting off for home.
The schedule is a bus to the airport (3 1/2 hours) followed by the flight home (6 1/2 hours).
Once we’re in Montreal, we’ll take a shuttle to the car, then the drive home (1 1/2 hours). I think we’re going to be pooped once we get there!
We wandered out at the end of the morning without the umbrella because it was sunny with no rain in the forecast, but then spent the day trying to stay dry!
Our first stop was for a late breakfast and coffee (under the watchful eye of a dog on a roof) followed by a visit to the Museo de Ignasio Allende. The museum occupies his former home and is packed with long Spanish texts arguing that the city’s namesake was the principal figure in the Mexican war of independence. It also presents rooms decorated with period appropriate furnishings and made “life-like” by never appropriate wax sculptures like this one.
The first storm hit as we were leaving the museum, and we waited it out under the awning of a nearby depanneur. When it let up, we ducked into the Starbucks down the block.
We waited out the next storm there and then set off for the hotel but got caught running in the rain the last block. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading. When things cleared up, we headed out to a pizza place down the street, this time bringing our umbrella! Obviously it didn’t rain.
The food recap for the day is as follows:
Dinner done, we’re packed and ready for the shuttle tomorrow at 9am. It’s going to be a long day of travel.
After breakfast and organizing our ride down to the Mexico City Airport Wednesday, we decided to walk out to El Charco del Ingenio, the botanical gardens. The first few roads you have to walk to get there were winding, steep climbs and tough going.
The gardens were worth it. They were spread out across a corner of a larger reserve and were full of all kinds of cactuses and succulents.
The real attraction though is a nature trail running along the top of a canyon the drops down into San Miguel. There are ruins of an old water-powered textile mill and beautiful waterfalls and views. Phone died early on so not many pics but the hike will probably be the highlight of the trip.
Walking home we visited the market and, after cooling off with a couple local brews sporting T-shirt labels for the World Cup, ate Italian food for dinner. Yummy.
Today’s big event was a tour of two “historic” houses. The tickets were 20$ each which is exorbitant. (Only a couple meals have cost more than that!) But we bought them because the tour money went to the public library.
Turns out the first house was a renovated property available for rent. The second was a private house—beautiful, yes—but done up in modern Architectural Digest style by the financial planner owners.
We ditched after a quick look at the second and set off walking on our own through the southern part of town.
The rest of the day was low-key. Rain was coming so we hung around the hotel room and read. I had mole pueblano for both lunch and dinner. So I was near euphoric by the end of the day.
The Templo de la Concepción in San Miguel de Allende is a dirty and battered little church nudged up against an old convent that’s been converted to an art school. The convent’s courtyard has comfortable chairs and avocado trees heavy with fruit. We read there most of a morning. The church though is a dreary spot.
Or would be if not for the shade tree that stands just beyond the thick wooden doors. People gather beneath it when the sun beats down, and that tree, reaching up around them, rings with the divine.
I stare about me, trying to etch into this journal the sense of Shey that is so precious, aware that all such effort is in vain; the beauty of this place must be cheerfully abandoned, like the wild rocks in the bright water of its streams. Frustration at the paltriness of words drives me to write, but there is more of Shey in a single sheep hair, in one withered sprig of everlasting, than in all these notes; to strive for permanence in what I think I have perceived is to miss the point.
—Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
We arrived in San Miguel a day earlier than we’d planned. So we stayed the night at a place we’d booked because it was cheap and near our real hotel. It wasn’t great. So this morning, the first order of business was to check into the room we’d booked before leaving Montreal. We were nervous about it—the photos online hadn’t been very clear—but what a surprise: it’s one of the best rooms we’ve ever stayed in!
Check-in done, we started the day with an all-you-can-eat Mexican breakfast buffet. It was great!
Then we set off to the Biblioteca to get tickets for a tour of some historic private homes for Sunday. We hoped to sit in the library cafe & read for a bit but it was full.
So we walked to the nearby Fine Arts Institute situated in an old convent and sat by the fountain in its courtyard instead. It’s in an old convent and tall avocado trees were growing all around with ripe avocados on them!
We read for most of the morning and then stepped across the street to eat a late lunch.
After lunch we wandered around visiting parts of the city outside the center. We saw a public market & a park, then explored winding cobbled streets.
We even found a site with nesting birds: some kind of egret or crane or something. Then climbed the hill to a lookout to see over the city.
Dinner was corn on a stick from a stall in the main square.
Today was a travel day. So after coffee, we packed and took a taxi to the bus station. By 3:30 we were in San Miguel de Allende.
As per convention the first few hours in a place are just about wandering around and getting the feel of things. So we walked to the central plaza—El Jardìn Principal—and started looping around from there.
What we discovered is that this place is crazy. It’s tourists and shops for tourists and restaurants for tourists and it feels like being at a festival. We haven’t really seen anything like it before. There’s supposedly some beautiful stuff to see though. So hopefully stories soon…