Thursday, March 8, 2007

Safe Arrival in San Miguel de Allende

Friday - We left the very nice Hotel del Bosque in Zacatecas bright and early traveling to San Luis Potosi. San Luis Potosi is a very large (600,000 plus) industrial city, so we skirted the ring road and saw mostly a lot of smog in the city valley. Then we went south towards Queretaro and into San Miguel de Allende on highway 111, as our casa is on the east side of SMA on Salida y Queretaro. We thought this would be the easiest way to find our home. Aha! Construction on the road and we were diverted. We however diverted on the ring road and came up through the center of the town which was not our best decision. Driving in town traffic, with some streets closed because of the pedestrianization of the Jardin (the main square), the changing of street names every few blocks, many streets being one way, some streets being two way but not wide enough for two vehicles, and heat of about 92, is not the best formula for marital harmony. My navigator became just a bit cranky, but of course I never get testy in these situations. (BULL says Mary Ann.)

After lots of circling and retracing we found our casa, and met our maid Betti. We dumped all of our luggage and everything else from the car, and headed back up the hill towards Queretaro and the suburbs, to visit the Super Gigante supermarket in order to stock up on all the staples and the first few days of food. We also located an ATM machine at the Pemex gas station, so all the essentials of life could go on. Mary Ann and I love grocery stores and supermarkets in foreign countries, as it gives you a flavor (no pun intended) for how the natives live, and it is such a challenge to figure out what everything is. We brought all the food back to the casa, and then went off to find a secure public parking lot, as the car would not be living with us.

With relatively little trauma (only one stop to ask questions) we found the lot, left the car under cover and hopefully will see it safe and sound when we return for it. We then walked up to the Jardin (the central square), we found that a festival was going on. Dumb luck on our part! The first Friday in March is the Feast of our Lord of the Conquest, celebrating the Spanish conversion of the natives to Catholicism. All over the square in front of the huge parish church, the Parroquia, native Indians were dancing in gorgeous costumes enhanced with plumed headdresses of peacock feathers. It was all very colorful. We then walked back up the hill to our casa to fix our first meal, recover from the walking, begin the unpacking and appreciate the beautiful casa and our safe arrival. The photo above, overlooking centro San Miguel, is taken from the patio of our master suite.

Saturday - We had our first breakfast in the sun on the second floor guest patio. Not surprisingly, Mary Ann gave me a bad time about not bringing coffee to her in bed. The 35 steps to our suite may have given me pause! I think she may be becoming just a little too comfortable in this retirement mode. We spent part of the morning just enjoying the casa and waiting for our maid to arrive to give us some appliance instructions and for the internet kid (always a kid for the computers!) to come by to hook us up. With the washer-dryer and the laptop working life is sooo good. Everything is now put away and it looks like we are really living here.

We then went out exploring, of course always going on a different route, we headed for the Jardin, watched the locals, and then went on to find the Biblioteca, the privately funded library. The library here is a very big deal with the largest English book collection in Central America. The resident gringos are big supporters and many are volunteers with the reading and cultural events of the library. The local weekly English language newspaper, AtenciĆ³n San Miguel (, is published out of the library. The newspaper is something to behold as this weeks issue is 112 pages, plus the supplement called que pasa, which lists and discusses all the upcoming events in San Miguel for the coming week. The newspaper is obviously a must buy each week.

Leaving the library we walked through the civic plaza (different from the Jardin) and on to the Mercado. This is what Mary Ann really lives for when traveling to foreign cities. This Mercado contains hundreds of fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry, and flower vendors all under roof. In addition there are many sections of the market selling crafts and other absolutely essential items. As Mary Ann had noticed that our casa kitchen did not have a butter dish, she made the important purchase a flowered Mexican ceramic mantequilla dish. We are adding to our casa owner’s assets! In the market there are also lots of the lunch stands where all of the locals are eating foods that I cannot even begin to describe. Maybe we will try those later when we have a native with us. It was now time to wander our way back home, slowly for sure, as it is now all uphill.

Mary Ann prepared our cena (dinner) and we relaxed looking at the sunset from our master suite patio and the wonderful view of the centro of San Miguel from our hill. Altogether a very fine day.

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