We put our coats on for the first time in more than a year today. We had enjoyed great weather in San Miguel for the last month when last night it turned windy and cold for the first time in the month that we have spent here. Suddenly about 2 AM our terrace door blew open and a cold wind passed through the house. The windows rattled and a ghostly sound filled the night. We awoke this morning to blustery skies and a light drizzle for the first time since our arrival.
We have spent a good portion of our time in the last few weeks just walking around the streets of San Miguel’s Centro area. During our journey we have normally not gone more than a couple of days without getting into the car and going out and exploring the surrounding areas in any one of the towns we have lived in. Since we lived in the neighboring city of Guanajuato for 3 months when we first moved to Mexico 17 months ago, we have really explored a good portion of the Bajio area of central Mexico in the past.
After exploring the normal markets, art museums, squares
and churches of San Miguel we were forced to look a little deeper into the alleys and areas that probably are not visited by most visitors that are only here for a few days.San Miguel has beautiful alleyways and side streets that are full of interesting quiet, cobblestone streets that are great for walking and taking pictures of. Because the streets are not really conducive to driving and traffic is quite congested, most of the local people primarily walk to their destinations which make for always busy streets. There always seems to be activity wherever we turn whether it is workers repairing the stucco or applying a new coat of paint to one of the Spanish style buildings or gardeners perfectly trimming the laurel trees in one of the squares, or uniformed school children going to or coming from school, there is always something or someone to watch wherever we go. Each street normally has a bakery, tienda, produce or meat market as well as a barbershop or clothing store, all of which can be visited.
With so many people walking, you are nearly sure to find some type of snack available on many of the corners. Tortas, corn
on the cob, cut fruit and ice creamy vendors are everywhere. For a few dollars you can make a pretty delicious meal by stopping at a few. If you don’t feel like walking there are plenty of vendors that will bring food right to you.
After exploring many of the more off the track neighborhoods, we found we needed to be a little more creative. We have a collection of DVD’s in our apartment and we watched a Johnny Depp/Antonio Banderas movie called “Once Upon a time in Mexico”. It was filmed mostly in San Miguel in 2003. Much of movie consists of gunfights that were shot in the streets of San Miguel. We decided to go out and find some of the locations that the movie was filmed at. It was fun to locate the hotel that Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek performed a wild, handcuffed chase scene at and also finding the restaurant and specific seat that Johnny Depp enjoyed his prized “Puerco Pibil” dinner at. The final big gunfight scene was filmed at a cool crossroad in town and another big gunfight scene(complete with motorcycle riding bad guys) was filmed in front of one of the
churches that is a couple of blocks from our house.
“On the Road” author Jack Kerouac also visited the area in the 1950’s to visit his friend Neal Cassady who lived (and actually died) in town. After doing a little research, we were able to locate the house that Cassady lived in and also one of the bars (La Cucaracha) that they drank in. Cassady supposedly died after making the intoxicated decision to count the number of railroad ties on the way to the neighboring town of Celaya. We visited the site near the train station where he was supposedly found the next morning suffering from exposure. He died later that day.
We did make one trip out of town recently. We travelled to the town of Queretaro which is located about 40 miles west of town. We were told that Queretaro was the ugly sister of San Miguel and Guanajuato, but while we did find that it was much bigger, the Centro area of town was really beautiful with fantastic squares connected by pedestrian only streets and many shops, markets and fabulous churches. The missionary Junipero Serra is famous for establishing all of the missions in
California and we were surprised to find out that he left on his journey from one of the larger churches in Queretaro. We often think of how difficult our 25,000 mile trip around Mexico and Central America has been, but imagining Father Serra travelling all the way to California without modern roads and on horseback was amazing to contemplate. Queretaro was also important in both the Mexican Independence as well as Mexican Revolution. We were also able to view the huge aqueduct that supplied water to the city in the colonial days. It stretches for more than a kilometer and is quite amazing.We enjoyed our day in Queretaro and found that it was especially nice to be in the “big” city after being in San Miguel for a couple of weeks.
We are looking forward to our son Michael’s visit for Christmas soon. He will be visiting for a little more than a week and it will be great to have someone else to share our trip with for a short time. We have confirmed our next place to stay after San Miguel. We will be living near the beach just north of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast.
Our visa will be up in February and we are planning to leave Mexico and head on to another continent soon….but I suppose that is for another blog.
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