Saturday, March 10, 2012

San Miguel de Allende

There is a lot to say about this colonial town, so in the name of laziness, I cut and pasted the below blurb  from a real estate website :

Located over a mile above sea level in the central highlands of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende effortlessly blends a contemporary Mexican feel with a rich, centuries-old colonial heritage.
Founded in 1542, San Miguel has hosted two landmark Mexican events. In its first incarnation, the town served as the headquarters for the Spanish Inquisition in New Spain. You can still see the headquarters building and the Inquisition jail a few blocks southwest of El Jardin, the town plaza.
The other landmark event has to do with the city's namesake, Ignacio Allende, leader and martyr of the Mexican independence movement. Born in San Miguel in 1779, Allende and other revolutionaries plotted here against the Spanish, and instigated a full-scale revolution in 1810 when they captured the city.

The movement faced a long road ahead, however, and the Spanish soon regained control of San Miguel. Revolution leader Allende was executed in 1811, 10 years before Mexican independence was finally achieved. In 1826, the government changed the town's name from San Miguel El Grande to San Miguel de Allende. In 1926, San Miguel was declared a national monument.

The current tone of the town was set back in the 1930s, when San Miguel became an international art colony. Attracted by the colonial architecture, crystalline sunlight, and mountain scenery and air, a steady stream of writers, painters, dancers, musicians, and artists of every conceivable ilk descended upon the town. Two important schools, Bellas Artes and Instituto Allende, became magnets for students from all over the world.

As with virtually all artists' colonies, however, San Miguel has also been discovered by laypeople and vacationers, and it now is as much a retirement and getaway town as an artists' haven. Many U.S. and Canadian citizens have established winter homes here, while easy access to Mexico City brings many Mexican weekenders into town.

Consequently, art galleries and international restaurants now fill the colonial structures, and English is spoken as commonly as Spanish. As little as 15 years ago, dogs slept in the streets; now traffic jams clog the streets during the peak season. Yet the mountain air has remained fresh, and the government's tight leash on development has maintained the city's historic flavor.

This is the campground we are staying at.    235 pesos per night.  We find them a little pricey for what they have to offer at the moment, but I think it is because Sam Miguel de Allende is by far the wealthiest city we have been to since we came to Mexico.    They have warm spring fed pools, but they have not been filled since we have been here.   They started to fill one last night.      They have a laundry service here, you can't do it yourself, but for 15 pesos per kilo they wash, dry and fold it for you.    We haven't done laundry since we left Sayulita about 10 days we had a lot of kilos to do.    300 pesos worth of laundry.    Unfortunately, when we picked it up we didn't check to make sure it was dry, so just a few minutes ago, I started to put the clothes away, and it is all quite damp.   I had to take it back to them to finish drying.   Yikes, we were planning to leave at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, something tells me we may be staying another day.   

We walked out onto the road and within 5 minutes a bus came along.   It cost 5 pesos each to get into town.

Gerry was astonished at how big these bags of cheesies are.   Wow, my niece Lara would have been in 7th heaven when she was a little girl....she used to love this stuff.

There are a few spectacular churches in this city.     Having been built during the Mexican/Spanish Inquisition it isn't surprising that they have 4 churches within a few blocks of each other. 

The oldest church was built 5 centuries ago.

We went for a stroll around town, but I had taken a fall a couple of days ago, so my back, leg and ankle were giving me a hard time, and Gerry had flickers in his eyes....expecting a migraine to set in.   He forgot his lozenges, so we didn't explore near as much as we would have liked.

We were both enthralled with the doors and the door knobs.

Some of the doors were massive, while others were so short we had to duck to get through them.   People were not so tall a few centuries ago.

We played the tourists and got a local to take our picture together.

Does anyone know what breed of horse this is?    She is obviously a working breed, but we had no idea why she was in the middle of town.

Speaking of working breeds, this little fellow was standing there all alone, not even tied to anything.   We suspect his owner was inside the building he is peering into.   :)

We flagged a taxi to get home, it was the most expensive taxi we have taken since being in Mexico, at 80 pesos.    We noticed this town is much more expensive than most, and suspect it is at least in part because  snow birds make up about 10% of the population.   

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