A couple of days short of Christmas we drove east around Guadalajara to San Miguel de Allende, the marvelous colonial town where we had lived for three extended periods up until about two and a half years ago. San Miguel was initially the stop for supplies and equipment into, and silver out of, the great mines of Guanajuato nearby. By the mid 1700’s the mines were exhausted and San Miguel became a ghost town asleep in the Mexican sun, but with its colonial splendor still intact. Recognizing this, the Mexican government declared it a national treasure in 1926 and forbid development out of character with its colonial facades from that point on. Over time it had a resurgence initially driven by a colony of artists in the 1930’s and beyond, and accelerated by GIs coming down to study under the GI bill with artists such as Diego Rivera and David Siquieros, both of whom taught here at one time or another. Later Americans and Canadians who fell in love with its colonial atmosphere, cobblestone streets and inexpensive living costs took up residence as well.
The center and focus of San Miguel is the Jardin or central plaza with its most important church, the Parroquia, at its focal end. Here the life of the city pulsates, usually into the late night and often accompanied by fireworks, parades, and general festivities. It is a beautifully shaded respite in the midst of colonial splendor.
We spent much of our time seeing old friends after the time spent away and enjoyed so much reconnecting with those who had been so critical to our experience in San Miguel in the past. We were able to see a number of friends from Santa Fe who have all moved to San Miguel over the years, including John and Marcia who have finally finished their ‘ready for Architectural Digest’ home.
We were also fortunate to stay in the rooftop apartment at ‘Melrose Place’, the 220 year old hacienda that had been our last home in San Miguel and the source of so much of our love of the community of gringos resident there. This also included a New Years Eve party in the courtyard that brought many together to celebrate there and then walk down the block to the Jardin for the fireworks as the clock ticked down.
We also had lots of chances to eat again in favorite and new restaurants, and snuck away one early morning to have a bath at La Gruta, the wonderful hot springs fed spa close by with our friend Terry Baldwin, formerly of Santa Fe.
Our nine days and nights in San Miguel were absolutely wonderful and strengthened again the pull of that city as a future base for these rather nomadic wanderers. It was more than difficult to pull ourselves away and return to the trail in Sayulita.