Dia de los Muertos

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North America » Mexico » Guanajuato » San Miguel de Allende
November 10th 2006
Published: November 11th 2006
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Now that we’ve been here for one month, we can give you a clearer picture of what it’s like to live here.

For one thing, each morning arrives with a cacophony of noises. First off, the dueling roosters announce the start of each day just before sunrise. Secondly, there are the numerous church bells that ring regularly announcing a mass. I’ve counted eleven churches on the tourist map of the town. This morning at 5:0am I first heard the soothing sound of chiming church bells ringing in the distance. Not too long after that, it was the loud bells clanging from the nearby Santo Domingo church repeatedly at 6:00, 6:15 and again at 6:40. We talked about the frequency of the bell ringing with other visitors in San Miguel trying to figure out the significance, but we just discover that we’re all laying in bed, counting the number of bell rings and trying to equate it with a time. It has nothing to do with the time. It has to do with calling the people to mass.

Next, start the day's barking dogs. Many homes have rooftops where the dogs patrol, so enevitably the sound carrys well. Not to
In the JardinIn the JardinIn the Jardin

View in front of the Parroquia
mention that we live near a vetranarian's office that keeps dogs on occasion overnight. Next comes the sound of the city bus lumbering up the hill near our house before taking a right turn away from us. There’s also the squeaking brakes of the bus lumbering down the hill on its way back into town. Also, on certain days, there’s what sounds like someone ringing a triangle percussion instrument very noisily. Not to worry, it’s only the call of the passing garbage truck, calling everyone to bring out their trash. That’s pretty much the morning sounds. I haven’t gotten to the afternoon or evening sounds yet (these include among others, bleating sheep, more roosters and dogs, random fireworks and the occasional car alarm in the middle of the night). Fortunately the daily pack of hummingbirds that lurk at the feeder on our balcony are extremely quiet.

It’s also taken me a while to get in the groove with food shopping and cooking. When you have to go to the meat market, the vegetable market, the deli, the tortilla vendor, and the general grocer just to put together a meal, one begins to loose interest in creating anything special other than a simple quesadilla with a side of guacamole. Fortunately I’ve found Rick Bayless’ cookbook, “Authentic Mexican” (he has a great show on PBS) and Annie Sommerville’s “Field of Greens” which both make great use of the local ingredients for delicious meals. And, also we made a run to Costco in the nearby city of Queretero to jump start our freezer selection. Just picture any Costco store in the U.S, and you have an idea of the same selection here in Mexico.

We've been dissappointed with the restaurant food. Not much cheaper than the states, and not very adventurous with the offerings. I'm sure it's very different in Mexico City, but we've been spoiled with both the prices and the quality of the food in Argentina. We're still discovering the town, so I'm sure we'll nail down our favorites.

Another thing we're not used to is the strong presence of Gringo retirees in this town as opposed to our travels this summer when we were the older travellers. The reports vary as to the number of full-time or part-time residents, but there has been a steady ex-pat presence since the early 1950's when returning war vets used their education benefits at the Fine Arts school here. Many full-time residents have made the effort to learn Spanish. The influx of Gringos has been steady and is reflected in the increased prices of houses here over the last five years. To support this community we have access to the Miami Herald Mexico edition in English as well as a local news and tourist information newspaper. In addition, we've already been regular patron of the library with a great selection of current and recent English language books.

Overall, this is a very easy place to make as our base and do inland trips from here. We're located in the Central Highlands, or also known as the Colonial Cities region. I've attached a map to give you an idea of our location in the state of Guanajuato. This is a temperate climate at 6500ft altitude. As a result, the sun is strong and hot during the day and the evenings cool off nicely for a stroll down to the town square to listen to the mariachi musicians. Here's a link to those who are interested in seeing some superb photos of the various cities in this region. www.soulofthegarden.com/Mexico

The photos
School projectSchool projectSchool project

Alter with dia de los muertos sweets
in this blog entry are taken on November 2nd, the day after All Souls Day. Day of the Dead is meant to honor those that have passed on. Many organizations in the city will set up public alters decorated with marigold flowers, and various offerings including booze, cigarettes, sweets and other sentimental objects. A special vendor market area was set up to selling the homemade sweets used in these alters and decorated in various forms, like skulls, sheep, tacos, basically anything you'd want to leave to your loved one as a special treat.

We've been wandering to various areas nearby. We visited the city of Dolores Hidalgo this week known for its talavera ceramics and tiles. We bought a small batch of tiles for a mirror project that Dennis wants to make down the road. If anyone would like any links to view the factory site, just let me know. Next we'll make a trip to the area of Patzcauro known as a center for craftsmen in the state of Michoacan. We'll also plan to make a small trip to Mexico City to visit the pyramids. Keep your questions and comments coming as it's great to stay in touch.

Additional photos below
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St. Michael the ArchangelSt. Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel

Patron Saint of San Miguel
Vibrant ColorsVibrant Colors
Vibrant Colors

A quiet part of town

14th November 2006

Just sent you an email. Glad to get some photos - - pl keep them coming! Ah yes, the gringos! My memory is on a bus for a San Miguel benefit house tour, and this big Texan in a cowboy hat was holding court and we had no way to escape! There are some great resonable little restaurants. One is at a very fine, hidden away hotel and it's outdoors around a pool with a view of the backside of the church - - perfect spot to see the sun set. I'll see if I still have the brochure. Also another is, if I remember correctly, northern italian, and in a beautiful colonial building that also had a gorgeous furniture/design store. If I find my SM stuff, I'll send you the sangria recipe from the forgery!

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