Focus On... Magazine
A few years ago, I started hearing rumblings about a town in Mexico that was supposed to be a great community for the arts. I pictured this town as being a suburb of Mexico City, as people said it lies slightly north of there. At the time, I did not pay a lot of attention to what was said. However, fast-forward several years and I started hearing more and more stories about this “Little Town,” so I started looking into it. A band that I had brought to Modesto to perform, first at the State Theatre and then at my other jazz concerts, had talked about this town often, as they were regular performers there at a bar/café called Mama Mia. The musicians, Willie and Lobo, loved it there so much that Lobo (Wolfgang Fink) moved there.
So it hit me: internet dating sites. I am single, so why not? Joining several sites that actually had listings for SMA, I made contact with women who lived there and could tell me all about San Miguel de Allende. I made it clear why I was contacting them, and they all were more than happy to share information. The more I learned from my new-found friends, the more interested I became in investigating San Miguel as a possible future home — a place where arts, festivals, and culture are vibrantly alive.
Jump to October 2013, and my friend Paul Nixon said he was tired of hearing me talk about this place so he made arrangements for us to both travel there. Alfredo Lopez, our guide, picked us up at the Leon airport and drove us through some beautiful countryside to San Miguel de Allende. I can tell you that it was an almost immediate feeling of euphoria. Driving through the Centro district surrounded by 400 year-old colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and happy, smiling people, I was certain that this was going to be a great trip. The Centro area, the heart of the city, was alive, really alive! It turns out that the apartment Paul rented for us was about 400 feet from the Jardin, the garden area of the town square and the Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel.
About the city: It was everything and more than what we had hoped for on this trip. People were kind, the streets were beautifully maintained, and traffic was mostly limited to taxis and delivery trucks. Everybody walked everywhere. Paul and I are both great aficionados of Mexican food— hot, spicy Mexican food. We didn’t find a lot of hot, spicy food, but everything we did have was amazing, with not one objectionable plate. It is a diner’s paradise whether eating in a hole-in-the-wall café or a fancy restaurant…all was fabulous. There was nightlife, music, people bustling around until the wee hours of the morning, and everyone feels safe there at all times or the day and night.
SMA is a city of celebrations; they celebrate everything. Fireworks and church bells are a way of life, and some may find that annoying but it is not ours to judge; we were guests in their city, so we relished and respected their Mexican traditions, and you may come to love it. In the week that we were there, we were twice thrilled by fireworks in the Jardin. We also had the chance to watch two celebrations of Indian dance troops with their authentic drums and costuming. Nearly every night there was at least one great mariachi band in the Jardin. While dining at one of the great local restaurants, Berlin, a belly dance troop, came through and danced for us a bit before moving on to the next restaurant. Every night we got to enjoy great live music at one place or another. We watched beautiful sunsets from atop the Rosewood Hotel. We attended their farmers market, featuring more amazing foods than you could ever sample. We made many friends while we there, the people being so open, warm and friendly.
Which brings me to this: Let me say that I never thought I would find a city I enjoyed more than Paris, and you can’t really compare the two, but given the choice of which I’d go back to? San Miguel in a heartbeat! So, if you have read this far and maybe I have piqued your interest, Candy and I are leading an excursion to San Miguel April 27–May 4, 2016 to share with you what Paul and I enjoyed so much.