Official San Miguel Post

Filed under: Mexico — Aaron and Amy at 9:52 am on Sunday, January 1, 2006

We arrived in San Miguel at about 5:00 p.m. the Thursday before Christmas. After having spent the night in Ciudad Victoria’s Wal-Mart parking lot, we were greatly anticipating the charm of colonial San Miguel. Very soon we found ourselves in COLONIAL San Miguel, which means the streets are narrow, cobble stoned, and full of traffic. We were headed to El Centro, or the center of town, with no idea of the road conditions ahead. We questioned whether or not we should stop and go another way, but a moment’s hesitation was too long, and found ourselves face-to-face with a sign indicating no buses or trucks. Of course, the sign was posted much too late for those that need this kind of information. We continued on, as there was no other option. We followed traffic, now just trying to get out of this predicament. At the second bend in the road, we waited for oncoming traffic to pass so that we could make the turn. It started out as a two-way street with cars parked on one side. The parked cars had their side mirrors folded in and we would soon find out why. As we turned the corner, the main street was revealed in all its congested glory. We passed exquisite buildings and churches from the 1500’s, but no time for that now. We just needed to get out! We got to one point with an oncoming bus and cars parked on the side that Amy folded in the passenger mirror and Aaron squeezed past with just enough room to survive! Whew! We rolled past the center of town and stopped to ask a traffic controller how to get out. He pointed straight ahead, so we followed. Amy asked Aaron if he saw the stone arch ahead that was spanning the narrow road. “Yes, and the buses are going through it, so we can too.” And through it we went. At this point the roads turned one-way, which was actually our savior. At least we didn’t have to deal with parked cars AND oncoming traffic! We were soon out of El Centro and after asking directions from several people, we located an RV park just outside of town. We arrived at 6:00 p.m., happy to get out of San Miguel with our rig unscathed! We did it! Aaron drove marvelously! Only after we got settled for the night did Aaron offer the following comment that Amy didn’t dare to mention while transiting San Miguel . . .. “Thank God we aren’t towing the tool trailer!!!”
That night we took the motorbike into town, which proved to be lots of fun on the windy cobbled streets! We had dinner at an excellent restaurant that was advertising “free phone calls to the US & Canada”. Certain there was a catch, we asked anyway. The waiter informed us it was simply a courtesy at their restaurant and brought us their cordless phone. We made a quick call to both our mothers, letting them know we were safe and sound in beautiful Mexico!
The following days consisted of walking about a mile into town, back to El Centro, the center of all the town’s action. There is a town square called el Jardin (the garden) in front of the beautiful cathedral with lots of shops and restaurants all around. Sometimes we took the dogs, which proved to be very entertaining for both the dogs and to everyone who saw us. There were, what we thought at the time, to be a lot of people in town for the Christmas holiday. Tourists from all over had come to San Miguel de Allende to witness her Christmas celebrations. We learned the day we arrived at San Miguel that it has a large American colony of ex-patriots. This kind of company wasn’t exactly what we were anticipating, but has turned out to be a wonderful town that has treated us well. There were Mexican locals, American “locals”, Mexican tourists and foreign tourists all milling about the streets.
One day while enjoying el Jardin, we befriended an American that has lived in San Miguel for about seven years. Chris Doolin is originally from Chicago, but eventually left his corporate life to become a photographer here in San Miguel. We chatted with him for a while and spoke about his life and business here. He is currently house-sitting for friends that returned to Chicago for a year. He proceeded to describe this million-dollar estate that was designed after Gaudi architecture, and invited us to drop by for a visit. Some of Amy’s time spent traveling in Spain allowed her to experience some Gaudi work, which was reason enough to witness this sparkling spectacle just outside San Miguel. We spent half the day with Chris at the estate, enjoying the tour and the grounds. After chatting with Chris about photography, he turned Amy loose and let her explore, taking all the pictures she could conjure. It truly is a magnificent piece of architecture that seems to have been transplanted from Spain!
Christmas Eve in San Miguel was breathtaking. Most of the balconies around town were decorated, but especially those in El Centro. There is a Christmas tree on the square in between el Jardin and the cathedral that is made of red and white poinsettias. It created a nice setting during the day and was breathtaking with the lights of the cathedral at night. We weren’t sure what would be open for dinner Christmas Eve and stumbled into a new restaurant called the Berlin Bar and Restaurant. I’m not sure why, but the owner didn’t think it would be busy so he let all his waitresses go for the holiday. It didn’t matter to us because we had quite enjoyable company! We chatted with two other families the entire evening! At one point the kids from both families went outside to play with sparklers that were 2 feet long! That made for some dramatic photographs! Once we returned to our dogs and the RV we used our satellite phone for the first time to make Christmas phone calls home to family.
We heard about some hot springs that are only about 10 kilometers outside San Miguel. We hopped on the bike and asked directions to La Gruta. The driver that we asked not only confirmed we were headed in the correct direction, but said he was going that way and that we could follow him. The motorbike tops out at about 50 mph, so he got a few cars ahead of us. When we saw the huge sign for La Gruta on the left, we realized that he had pulled over on the right side of the road to let us know we had arrived. Not only was he waving his hand to the left towards the hot springs, he also had his left blinker on indicating the direction to go. These are the kinds of people and considerate actions that we have read about and look forward to. Everyone is so eager to help and show us the way!
After spending 6 nights in San Miguel, we decided it was time to head to the beach for the New Year’s celebration and my birthday. After attempting to put on additional pictures on the website, we discovered we were still having problems with the upload. We gave up on the travel log for the time being, only posting a brief explanation of our difficulties. The next morning we packed everything into the RV and got a late start of about 11:30 a.m. Apparently the travel Gods knew we weren’t actually leaving San Miguel that day, therefore not allowing us to make our travel post yet!!! After ¾ of the RV park inhabitants came to bid us farewell, we were headed for the beach. About 30 minutes outside of town Aaron noticed more movement coming from the storage unit he welded on the back. Upon inspection we decided that the frame of the RV needed some more reinforcement for all the weight we had added. We decided it was best to turn back to San Miguel and get the problem fixed where we knew several locals and had friends at the campsite. The beach will have to wait.
We spent the following day looking for our friend Chris in the city center. He was supposed to be there selling his photographs but we were not able to find him. We had been trying for several days to deliver a disc of pictures that I took of one of the families on Christmas Eve, but their store is under construction and no one ever answered. We went back one more time and were finally successful. We delivered the pictures to one of the employees and Aaron asked him for a recommendation for a mechanic/welder. He called our friend and she recommended someone who had done a lot of work on her truck. Aaron took the RV to the shop the next day and they worked on it until 8 p.m.! He came back with a reinforced frame and moved two spare tires to the front of the rig (transferring weight from back to front). That may also solve our bicycle storage problem. They were on the back of the rig, but have been inside the two days we drove to San Miguel. Aaron went back to the shop today at 10 am to finish the reinforcement. Aaron finished the welding at about 9:00 PM on New Years Eve. The Mechanics couldn’t have been friendlier and even gave Aaron a shop t-shirt to indicate their friendship. The shop t-shirt is not what you have currently pictured in you mind. Apparently there are only three made each year because they are hand woven from cotton. One for Nahual, the owner, one for Oscar, Nahual’s son, and one to be determined. The total bill after labor and materials for two days and on average 4 guys was about $300.00 US which may have been too much as they left payment up to Aaron and upon presentation seemed overjoyed with the sum
It is now New Year’s Eve, another holiday to celebrate here in San Miguel! There have been more and more people arriving every day! The town keeps getting busier and busier! New Year’s Eve and Three Kings holidays (early January) are greatly anticipated, and everyone is showing up for the celebrations! There will be fireworks and fiestas in el Centro around dark, and the welder invited us to attend his family’s new year’s celebrations which won’t start until 11 p.m.!
There are all sorts of rigs here at the Siesta Hotel and RV Park, and their inhabitants are even more diverse. It has been great fun getting to know everyone! It was not our intention to stay in RV parks in Mexico, but I must say that it has been a truly valuable experience. We have spent a year getting ready for this trip, but nothing is as valuable as talking to people who have been there! A lot of the people here at the RV park are seasonal guests. Most have been all over Mexico, and some have gone into Central America. The vehicles range from class B’s (which are more or less a van with a pop-up top, some larger than others), to class C motor homes (like ours with a bed over the cab), to class A’s (which are larger Bus-like motor homes), to trucks puling fifth-wheels, to trucks with a camper over the bed, to a regular van converted for sleeping and some storage. We have met a wide variety of people who have been fascinating to discover. Some with interests very similar to our own. The photographer Chris Doolin was a corporate ladder-climber who gave that life up to realize his dream of photography. He gives a pre-determined amount of his proceeds to a scholarship fund to send kids to school. From his proceeds alone, he sent 50+ kids to school here in San Miguel. We met Jim and Angie who are both photographers. Joseph shares Amy’s love of archaeology and concentrates on the Mayan glyphs. Lorraine arrived today. She is from California and has lived in Cairo, Egypt for 7 years and Kenya for about 4 years. She is a photographer/writer and has two wonderful books (“Shadows in the Sand” and “Cats of Cairo; Egypt’s Enduring Legacy”). A young German couple arrived today in a Toyota Land-Cruiser looking vehicle. They have been on their trip for 7 months already and are also headed to Tierra del Fuego in South America. When we went to La Gruta, the hot springs, our friends Steve and Sharon watched the dogs for us. Chuck and his wife Alayne have taken some wonderful pictures of us, which we will put up on the web. We have played a lot of catch with our dogs and with Howard and his dog Pepper. Ghislaine and Felix were kind enough to donate a well known Mexican RVing guidebook to us. Art and Sally are very special to us. Sometimes you meet people that you have an instant connection with, and that bond deepens the more time you spend together. Art and Sally definitely fit into this category. Sally had an advertising agency back in Vermont, and she has been kind enough to make us some personal “business cards”. Most RV’ers have them with information such as website and email, but since we are new to the game – we were not prepared. Art had his own company back in Vermont that his son has since taken over.
I sit here now in our campground waiting for Aaron to return from his second day of welding on the RV. I have an exquisite pink and orange sunset dipping beneath the trees and hills. When he gets back we will get ready and head into town for the New Year’s celebrations! There will be mariachis and then an orchestra in El Centro and at el Jardin, then fireworks at midnight! You can bet I will have my camera! We plan on leaving San Miguel Monday morning, heading for the general vicinity of Manzanillo on the Pacific coast! Beach and sun, HERE WE COME!
Happy New Year to all! We hope that you all celebrate safely!
Feliz Navidad y Feliz Ano Nuevo! Buenos noches!
Aaron and Amy Young . . . . and Khorrah and Skylos!
We are working on uploading pictures from San Miguel. . . . as you can imagine we are very anxious to get them posted. Please stay tuned . . . we appreciate all your visits to the website and your heartfelt e-mails!!!

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.