Saturday, March 10, 2012

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLDENDE

With the exception the new Starbucks Coffee much of the San Miguel de Allende’s historic center remains much as it was 250 years. The Starbucks is next to our hotel and facing the city plaza or Le Jardin as they call it. My sweetheart made the connection before we even checked in. It was raining when we arrived, which was quite unusal for this time of year. San Miquel has been experiencing the same weather we have had in Texas. The previous year had been dry and then rains starting in the following February. The layout of the center of the city is mostly a straight grid, which was favored by the Spanish during colonial times. However, due to the terrain, many roads are not straight. There are no parking meters, no traffic signals and no fast food restaurants. San Miquel is mostly a walking town. City dwellers rarely own cars. These streets are lined with colonial era homes and churches. The architecture is simple, with well-tended courtyards and rich architectural details. The houses have solid walls against the sidewalks, painted in various colors, many withbougainvillea vines falling down the outside and the occasional iron-grated window. Many of the larger structures have large front doors which used to be used by horses and carriages.
In the historic center, which is called the City of two thousand Doors” and behind each door there are at least two thousand courtyards of various sizes. Many of these have been restored to their former colonial state, with facades of ochre, orange and yellow, windows and doors framed by handcrafted ironwork and made of hewn wood. The interior roofs are flat, of heavy mortar supported by large beams. The houses are built lot line to lot line with no outside windows so the courtyards are where the private gardens were, protected from dust, excess water and crime.
The town of one hundred thousand people is noted for it’s narrow cobblestone lanes, that rise and fall over the hilly terrain. It is still a small city, with clean air. At night, many wander the narrow streets with relative safety. The people on the streets are a mix of Mexicans, foreigners and indigenous. Its cultural and artistic reputation has brought many people from Mexico and abroad here to live. Of the people who live in San Miquel about 20% are foreigners. Retired American, Canadians and a few Europeans make up the expatriate population. At 6400 feet elevations the climate is almost perfect. The landscape is high Desert with miles and miles of cactus and an occasional burro.
It’s easy to fall in love with this beautiful City. We did. You can see pictures of our local realtor and the ranch on which we plan to spend the summer. We are looking forward to a return trip in a few weeks. Life seems to be unfolding a new adventure, I just want to embrace it and love what happens.