Friday, September 19, 2014

Travel: Conde Nast's Recommended San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and Me

When John Scherber allowed me to reprint an article about an expat's life in San Miguel de Allende , I did not dream that we would actually come to San Miguel de Allende. Not only had I not been aware that it existed, I did not imagine that it would be hard (and expensive) to get here or that it was actually an beautiful as it is.  Not that I doubted John but it took the top rating from Conde Nast and an article in the NYT to convince me that this might be worth taking what travel time my husband and I have left to come to this part of Mexico.

San Miguel de Allende has been a expatriates dream come true for almost 50 years and was founded around 500 years ago. It was designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. But as the NYT's article points out, it is the contrast of the new sophisticated San Miguel with the very old Mexican traditions that makes it such a charming place to be. Times said think of a mango next to paprika and turmeric. In the article written by Scherber he said:
The Méxican community and the expat community, largely U.S. and Canadian, struggle a bit to understand each other’s values and way of life. It is difficult to mistake members of one community for those of the other. 
After being here for a few days I can see how that is very true.

We are staying on Correo, the street than runs in front of the pink cathedral. Everything west and south of us feels very rich and sultry. But when we go north for a few short blocks we are in old Mexico. A very large market features meats, vegetable, necklaces and Oaxaca rugs. The native people trade and buy everyday necessities as tourist fondle the trinkets. Interestingly enough, it is the only place in the town that I have seen a public restroom...good to know.

This shop sold antique masks. I paid to take this picture!
That is a first for me!
At the NYT's recommendation we visited places that carried hand embroidered blouses and purses. We bought hummingbird feeders at a La Silvestra just down the hill from our hotel and trinkets from a hole in the wall shop near Calle Dr. Hernandez Macias. But we have found that every street is a treasure waiting to be discovered and that perfect find might be just around the corner. I honestly cannot say that there are any bad places to explore...just different.

We visited the Fábrica La Aurora Centro de Arte y Diseño yesterday. Information said it was a ten minute walk from the husband and I questioned that after what seemed like a very long hike. It was recommended to us by an expat friend that lives here. Artists come to San Miguel to work and this is one of the places the very finest display their art and teach as well. I loved it.

While we spend our days marveling over the uniqueness of this place, our lunch (or tea time) and evenings have been spent eating our way through as many restaurants as going back some wonderful cuisine. At last count locals say there are over 200 restaurants to choose from so we do pay attention to ratings and that sort of thing. So far we have not been disappointed.

Breakfast a Cafe Lavender on Hernandez Macias

Franciscan run Temple de San Francisco
Dinner delight?

Wall carving on front of Temple de San Francisco 
Last night we were the only people in the restaurant called Olio so we received the royal treatment. We were offer an appetizer featuring the worms (maggots) they put in tequila to make sure it is strong enough. The story I have heard is if the worms die, the tequila is ready. When we were served, the creatures were front and center, deep fried and crunchy. I must admit that I would not eat them again but I am glad I tried them just once.

The first night we arrived we ate at The Restaurant located on Sollano 16. I had a brined pork chop that was the best thing I have ever eaten hands down. This has to be one of the best in San Miguel but who knows. Go to this website and be amazed.

We stop in the afternoon at tea time (2:00 pm) for a small bite to eat and then head home for a siesta, quite time and a glass of wine. I love this pace of life and could live like this forever I suppose.

But, in the end, I belong in Oregon. It too feeds my need for beauty.



  1. Good job Gma, but it would take a whole book to tell everything about SMA, as the native expats call it, that is here. We have tried to compare it to other artist's haven's we have visited but find it just stands alone. We have not yet been to Guadalahara, which they say has much Mexican folkart too, but I wonder how much really good expat artists from around the world like there is here in SMA. A great place to visit for art and oh yes the food is terrific too.

    1. Thank you for your comment know what you are talking about.

  2. I'm not sure I would have tried to worms, I'm glad you did however. The details of the markets are great and paying to take a photo is something new. We were near San Juan and photography around the shops was a definite no no..

    1. We were especially careful when we were looking at original artwork of any kind.

  3. It's a destination we're still looking at, but I'm not at my best in Mexico. Glad for your great descriptions!

    1. This is such a beautiful and comfortable place for Americans. You would love it.

  4. Great news Barbara, I'm glad you found the magic! Here's my NEW book on San Miguel: Thinking about living in San Miguel? What if you knew the answers to the questions you have to ask? What about crime, health care, housing? What about cost of living and nearly 20 other issues? My new book shines a light on the subject. It’s called Living in San Miguel: The Heart of the Matter, and there’s a sample on my website or on Amazon.


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