San Miguel de Allende is a very colorful city with 500+ years of history! The architecture of houses, the cobble stone roads, the well handcrafted wooden doors, and the art display mesmerizes the eyes.
In San Miguel de Allende, everything is slower. Walking from the bus station to our hostel, the first sign we see: “20 km/hr en todo San Miguel de Allende”. We know we’re going to like it. Unfortunately, our short stay of 24 hours did not allow us to take it slow. After checking into our hostel, we decided to take a stroll throughout the city visiting the main plaza and a few churches. Later we decided to take a tour of the city with a trolley for $60 pesos! A trolley tour of San Miguel was the best way to get to see the highlights on the first night and allowed us to learn about spots we wanted to visit with more time. Right after the tour, we enjoyed a typical Mexican hot chocolate and churros (we’re sure it was not as good as the Casa de Chocolates hot chocolate though). =)
The next morning we started with breakfast from Panaderia Purisima and a beautiful romantic walk en “el pulmon de la ciudad” – Parque Benito Juarez. The legend has it that couples walking in this park MUST give each other mouth to mouth to receive 14 years of good luck. Failure to do so will result in 7 years of bad luck. Sara and I made sure to get those 14 years. =)
During our tour we learned that in this park Antonio Banderas donated a whole playground for the kids of the city. I hope to one day make enough money to bring happiness in a community. Florentino, a new friend, shared with me that one of his goals is to build a soccer park near his hometown … talk about non-selfish goals!
Following the park we continued walking through the city and visited the Insitituto de Arte Allende. Here we saw the most beautiful view of the main cathedral and learned about a modern muralist David Leonardo. Apparently he learned from disciples of Sisqueros and Diego Rivera and is now creating murals all over Mexico, Napa Valley (for those of you in CA, go visit Robert Mondavi!) and Central America. We were told he was painting a mural in the Biblioteca of San Miguel and we got the chance to see him in action. He was on a ladder of sorts lying on top of it painting the hand of a pre-hispanic woman listening to classical music and a couple of incense lit up. The mural was in honor of a pre-hispanic culture but unfortunately we forgot which one. We hope to buy one of his paintings soon!
Both days we got to enjoy wonderful food! Primarily we ate gringas, quesadillas con guisado and some tacos. Our favorite spot was el Comal de Doña Meche. At night, there was a taco stand on the corner of Insurgentes and Hidalgo and we made sure even The Monkey got a taste of the tasty gringas!
Even though everyone shared with us that San Miguel de Allende is 50% gringos, we saw very few… probably because they use this town as their vacation house. We spoke with a real estate agent and she shared with us that houses are valued from $300k-$2 million. Of course 50% of people here are gringos, the house values are too high for the median house hold income in Mexico. The concept of foreigners taking over a city is a double edge sword since it brings a new economy but also removes locals from their houses. Makes me think of the whole idea of Spain taking over most of Latin America… for 300 years it stole the riches of this continent … are we not learning from history?