Sunday, March 11, 2007

Conquering Our Hill (Mountain?)

Tuesday – The gas man did return despite our rejection of him yesterday. They park the truck in front of the casa. One of the men goes to the roof outside our guest suite, drops a rope and pulls up the hose from the truck. They then fill the tank and drop the hose back down with the rope. All very quick and efficient. Our local contact/manageress, Pilar Morales obviously straightened it all out. The gas man referenced Pilar on his arrival. We heard via MSN messaging today that Chelan has had 15 inches of snow recently. Darn shame! I don’t think San Miguel knows what snow is, even at our elevation of 6100 feet. We spent most of the morning working with Les Cooper on MSN Messenger setting up and making sure our cell phone worked. We eventually got all the numbers correct and made a call going both directions. Eureka! All this new technology. Above you will see the outside view of our casa.

For a couple of hours we proceeded on an investigative walk up the hill (mountain?) on Santo Domingo street (around the corner from our casa) to check out the La Puertecita Boutique Hotel ( which is a 4 diamond AAA rated hotel. It is gorgeous and has a wonderful restaurant. We had a soft drink in the bar and decided this was a definite selection for dinner when we have visitors. It is about a 20 minute walk up and 15 minutes back down. As you start up the street you pass by a school, of course behind the walls as is the architectural style here in San Miguel. In the mornings, before a lot of traffic starts, we can hear the announcements at the school and the children playing.

This evening we proceeded down Hospicio Street and checked out some very nice B&B’s and the Hotel Sierra Nevada. We then proceeded to the Jardin and then viewed the interior of the Parroquia Church. It is a very large parish church and is very attractive in a modest style. One of the high points of any day in San Miguel is to just sit in the Jardin and watch the people, the kids, and the birds, which we then proceeded to do. On our way back up Correo Street, we stopped in and looked over the Sazon cooking school and kitchen store ( I suspect that Mary Ann and some of our visiting friends will soon be enrolled for some of the classes.

Wednesday – Every day has its little challenges. We had been unable to get the TV to work for us. When our maid arrived, she solved this problem, and now we are receiving several English language stations. Today’s big event was to take the walking historic tour of the centro district. The gringos here are very active in creating projects to fund charities that have been organized to benefit the community. For 100 pesos per person ($10), a volunteer guide takes you to all of the historic buildings and churches in the central part of San Miguel, and tells you of the history of the city and its people. The charity that runs this tour is Patronato Pro Ninos, which is a group of volunteers and staff that seek out needy children in San Miguel and its surrounding villages, and then help the children get the medical and dental care that the low income children require. We had about 45 people in three groups on the tour. It is offered 3 times a week. I calculate that this makes the charity about $6,000 a month. You can learn more about the charity at

Our tour guide has been coming with his wife to San Miguel for 15 years. She is a singer and puts on an annual sold out concert at the Bellas Artes. Richard was (and is I suspect) a composer, and a former African safari tour operator from New York. He gave our tour group lots of local advice, in addition to the history, such as the best bakeries, music events, and restaurants. He mentioned one that his wife particularly liked, Meson de San Jose, and our group must have been paying a lot of attention, as when we walked in for lunch the total was 7 of our tour group of 14. He was more than willing to answer personal, as well as San Miguel questions and was a delight to spend two hours with. By coincidence we noticed in the restaurant a man who had participated in the church service at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. I had a few minutes to chat with him and made another friend. He, of course, encouraged our continued attendance at St. Paul’s.

On our way back to the Casa Tranquilidad we found (on Richard’s advice) a wonderful bakery and then bought fresh strawberries from a very small vegetable/fruit store. As we approached our casa door we had a chance to meet Fred, our next door neighbor, who is a long time San Miguel resident and had just returned from two months in Puerto Vallarta. I suspect in the future we will learn a lot more about Fred. When we entered the casa Betti, our pretty Mexican maid was just ready to leave. Mary Ann then realized that the best thing that happened today was that Betti had done all of our personal laundry. I am very afraid that she could really be spoiled here!

Quirky Living Note: The church bells! The bells from the churches of San Miguel seem to start ringing about 6:30 a.m. They however, are not all on the same time schedule. The bell wringers obviously need to be given computers so they can all be on the same wringing program. We learned today that the only bells actually on the hour, half hour and quarter hour are those from the Parroquia Church in the Jardin. Thus because of the bell start hour we are up by 7:00 a.m. everyday. I guess that is why the natives (and us) need a siesta

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