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Published: April 7th 2019
SanMiguel de Allende (SMA) is about a 3 hour drive from the JM Butterfly B&B. The infrastructure was great and the landscape was beautiful. The minute we entered SMA, the scene changed to a charming cobble stone colonial town. Christiane found us a great boutique hotel located just a 5 minute walk from the center of town. Walking is the main mode of visiting this town and we were glad that we brought our walking sticks which help to stabilize us on the cobblestone streets. SMA is a popular place for US expiates, 10% of local residents are from the USA. The weather is always sunny, cool with low humidity and the cost of living is cheap with lots of art galleries, museums and great restaurants. We saw a t-shirt announcing that "relax and have fun, you are on the right side of the wall" - very true sentiments for Americans who love Mexico and have differently ideas about what life in Mexico is all about.
The magnificent pink pinnacles of the ’Parroquia de San Miguel’ dominated the landscape of the town. The center plaza (El Jardin) is full of activities - student painters with easels in day time and
the mariachi music bands at night. We had a fantastic ’volcano bowl’ at a corner restaurant with a singer who entertained us with Johhny Cash and Elvis songs.
Wondering through the town, we came upon the Public library and saw that in addition to books, this library has extensive art collections , a book store covered from ceiling to wall with murals and a court yard full of inviting green plants. I saw a group of women sitting around a table doing piecing works. As a quilter myself I went over to say hello and found out they are retired teachers learning how to quilt. In the evening we attended a classical guitar concert in the performing hall. What a wonderful place to relax at after a day of touring.
A local expatriate told us not to miss ‘Fabric La Aurora’ - a high quality linen textile mill in operation from 1902-1991, a major employer for local people for 90 years. After world trade opened in Mexico, cheap cotton fabric flooded the market and forced the closure of the factory. It was then converted to art galleries with unique furnitures, special jewelry and contemporary art works. The whole
place was designed with history pieces intertwined with arts. We roamed around for hours talking to artists and watched some art classes in studios. It was indeed a place you wouldn’t want to miss in SMA. On our walk back we went through the ‘artisan street’ where craft shops lined the alley ways. We fell in love with their indigenous beaded animal works and bought a beautifully beaded cat.
El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden is only 2 km from town but located up in the hills so we took a taxi there. This 170 acre ecological preserve is full of cacti plants, many rare and even near extinction. It’s a leisure walk along shaded path taking in the vast landscape Including a lake. There were extensive dams and water pipes layed in late 1800 in the park to provide power for Fabric La Aurora. On top of the garden you get a panoramic view of old SMA. The walk back to town was all downhill and took only about 15 minute. There are many lovely homes located along the mountain roads back to town.
Both the Toy and Mask museums are recommended by travelers. The Mask museum,
being a private collection, requires an appointment with the owner. One needs to call early as it books up quickly. Unfortunately for us, we ran out of time but maybe this is a good excuse to come back here.
The toy museum was not impressive from outside but what a gem we found inside! Several floors filled with all kinds of hand made toys like fairies wheel and straw weaved trucks - quite amazing art work. My favorite is this intricate mini chess set - only 2.5 inch square board but all the pieces are delicately carved. We thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend this museum.
Our last evening here is on the weekend and found out it’s a popular day for wedding parties in the plaza. The brides and grooms and all their guests would dance on the street among giant puppets and be drinking some mysterious liquid served in small cups. What a fun way to celebrate the beginning of a life together! As the night was winding down, the Parroquia lit up illuminating the plaza, what a charming town SMA is, a true paradise for Snow Birds from US and Canada.
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