San Miguel de Allende

I think that I need pictures to help me find the words.  Maybe that makes me a visual person? I don’t know. Now that I have a few pictures, I feel inspired to write.

We are spending three weeks in a community called San Miguel de Allende in the heart of Mexico. Its cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, old churches and slower pace put me in mind of some places we visited in Italy some 16 years ago.

Our home away from home is a traditional family home about a 20 minute walk from the centre of town, up a San Francisco like hill. 

Our first walk down and up said hill caused my lower back to ache.  Those aches were much less noticeable on the second day.  Our huffing and puffing will fade with each passing day as we get stronger and establish a walking pace that aligns with our physical abilities.

Walking is a big part of our travels. There is something special about having a home base that is a 20 to 30 minute walk to the centre of the action and amenities. We definitely get our steps in. We also get a small taste of life in this community, away from the fancy hotels, restaurants and shops. In fact, we got more steps in today than any other day in the previous six months.

When you think of Mexico you probably think of hot sun and beaches. Yes? We woke up to 5 degrees this morning and a high of about 20 by mid-afternoon. Being in the centre of the country and at a higher elevation we get to enjoy very pleasant modest days. At times it is a challenge to get warm, like in the evenings and early mornings; by midday we are stripping off layers and looking for shade. I’m not sure that our shorts and sandals are going to get much use. The waiters in the restaurant were all wearing warm vests, as this is their coldest season.

Our first order of business, being in a place for a number of weeks, was to set ourselves up with some groceries - the basics. We meandered through narrow streets and a nature preserve, of sorts, in the middle of the city replete with many varieties of cacti, thorny masterpieces of all shapes and sizes. It was a short cut to a major grocery store. We spent about 1,600 pesos, or about $120 CAD, to take care of our first week’s breakfasts and lunches. Chances are that we will eat out for dinner more often than not.

After midday siesta we set out again for the centre of town. It looked very different this time in the full light of day. Around the main cathedral are myriad restaurants, galleries and high end shops. What is very different is that there is no exterior signage allowed. You have to look into the open door to see what lies inside. I imagine that is to maintain the historical feeling of the old part of town. It’s quite lovely. 

I will be away from my painting for the entire time we are away. It is a chance for me to gather new ideas and inspirations. The colours, textures, sculptures, architecture and natural beauty wash over me, likely to influence and inform my work in the future, though I can’t pinpoint how.  

This is a typical door to a business in the downtown after things have shut down for the day. We could spend days enjoying the craftsmanship of the doors and their unique qualities including the variety of knockers. This is an example of a painting waiting to happen.


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