Wednesday, February 4, 2015

San Miguel de Allende

Nightlife in front of Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel

From Guanajuato, we headed just down the road (about 100 kilometers) to San Miguel de Allende.

The ride to San Miguel was beautiful and along the way we passed a Pilgrimage group for whom traffic was being directed around on the mountainous roads.

This city has quite a concentration of artistically inclined Gringos who have likely come to admire the Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel and decided to immigrate and settle in this lovely town in the mountains.

Our plan was to settle in a hotel or hostel for the evening so that we would be able to walk into the city which we were told comes alive at night. We explored the cobbled streets of San Miguel until we found the Alcatraz Hostal, which offered reasonable rates in comparison to everything else around (one “economy” hotel wanted 700 pesos - about $50 - whereas the Alcatraz at least 180 Pesos - $13 each - for rooms in a dorm. Not ideal, but at least Roel would be able to get the bikes into the lovely hostel courtyard so we would be able to explore the city and sleep at night without worrying about the bikes being bothered.

Secure bike parking at Alcatraz Hostal

We wandered into the city to meet a friend of a friend from the US, Betty, who had recently returned to San Miguel after spending her youth there. The square in front of the Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel was indeed alive.

Being that it was the anniversary of the town, there was all sorts of entertainment including a dance presentation that included dances from every state in Mexico. It was fabulous (and FREE)!!

Betty and I hit it off right away and she showed us around to her favorite haunts, all of which either offered stunning views of the city by night or the best tacos al Pastor we’ve had to date.

Tacos al Pastor, similar to Shawarma, and perhaps brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants

On Friday night, there was a classical band playing live music in front of the Parroquia and then later on, the mariachis were in full force.

San Miguel de Allende was a lovely city and we’re glad we were able to experience it now. Talking with Betty about how much has changed since she was living there 30 years ago in addition to seeing how the Gringo wealth has largely pushed Mexicans out of this city, was really saddening. While wandering around the streets, we saw a real-estate office, staffed by Gringos for Gringos… In a country where the minimum wage is just over $5 PER DAY, there were modest homes for sale at the “fabulous price” of $550,000. Unreal.

Many of the Gringos in San Miguel are doing really good work that is undoubtedly helping Mexican children and folks in the local community, so the gringo influence is certainly not all bad. But truthfully, walking around the streets of San Miguel de Allende, we didn’t feel like we were in Mexico until the sun went down and the city came alive.

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