Friday, April 20, 2007

Finding a Parking Lot in San Miguel

Friday - Week 8: When I advised our rental agent that I would be driving a car to San Miguel de Allende, I thought she might have a heart attack. Most people are satisfied with just being in this wonderful city, and taking the transport to and from the Leon/Guanajuato Airport. For those of you who know me well, that is just not the style for Mary Ann and Tom. We have to explore and create adventures, and that means going far beyond the city limits of San Miguel. Thus we have a car in a walking city!

The rental agent, Jennifer Rockett, was however gracious and told me that although the casa did not have a garage (I secretly think our owner has a car in our inaccessible garage) there are public parking lots for long term parking. I have now become very knowledgeable about the lots in San Miguel and thought I could save you a lot of research (or grief) if you bring a car, or rent a car, while in San Miguel.

First, disabuse yourself, for the most part, of thinking of a car lot in the sense of a U.S. car lot. The majority of the lots here are an empty space behind a wall that is incredibly difficult to get in and out of. All but one (the lot we use) are not open and available 24 hours a day. As I have not actually used any of these lots, I don’t know what they cost on a weekly or monthly basis. Watching people try to get in and out of some of these lots, from some of the narrow streets of San Miguel would make a strong man cry!

Second, there really are not a lot of parking lots in San Miguel. To give you an idea of the lots I have seen are as follows:
Ø On Mesones between Reloj and Juarez, across the street from the Bonanza Grocery;
Ø The west side of Recreo, just south of Correo;
Ø The northeast corner of Hidalgo and Insurgentes, just west of the Biblioteca (this however seems to be closed as the owner is building a controversial 4 story parking garage on the site);
Ø The east side of Quebrada between Canal and Insurgentes;
Ø The east side of Calz. De La Aurora on the way to La Fabrica; and
Ø On Pila Seca just west of Zacateros.

But, there is hope beyond this list of antiquated choices of parking lots. With our usual dumb luck we found the brand new, state of the art, municipal parking lot that does not appear on any map currently printed in San Miguel. This lot is located on Cardo, just east of Ancha de San Antonio, just south of the Instituto Allende and nearly next door to St. Paul’s Anglican Church. This is a huge lot of very recent construction. It includes underground covered parking, gorgeous clean free public bathrooms, electronic in and out, and 24 hour access.

Although the lot is some distance from our casa (about a 25 minute walk) if you don’t want the exercise the $2 taxi ride will get you there in about 10 minutes. My suggestion is that at your first visit to the lot you arrange with the office (at the bottom of the ramp to the underground parking) for your weekly or monthly rate. They will give you a receipt for your payment, which will show the time period for your access. You just show the receipt along with the plastic parking card you received when you entered the lot, at the time of exiting the lot. The monthly rate is $45.

We do not use the car for getting around San Miguel. For that we walk, but we take the car out at least weekly for our day trips to nearby towns and cities, giving guided tours to our guests, picking guests up at the airport, and taking groceries to the casa after a visit to Super Gigante or Mega. And…we have the car for our return adventure to Chelan at the end of our stay.

Quirky Living Note: If you should park illegally in San Miguel, the police don't just issue you a ticket and put it on your window. Instead they guarantee you will pay it by removing the license plates from your car. A sure fire way to get you to stop into the traffic police office for a little chat! The photo above shows two policemen removing plates in front of the Instituto Allende.

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