Many friends and other people I know are in San Miguel de Allende now and people are curious and asking questions, so I am reposting this.
It was dusk in San Miguel Allende and traffic was stopped by a cheerful policeman at an intersection near the fancy hotel zone in the center of town. I looked to my right and a police car was driving at a snail’s pace, blue and yellow lights flashing. It took a minute to note that there was no siren so I looked to my left, and realized that it was leading a small caravan of tourists on horseback . Slowly clomping on the cobbled streets was a forlorn and very -bored looking horse ridden by a middle aged woman in a sweat shirt, Bermuda shorts, tennis shoes, and a large hat tied firmly under her chin. She was holding on to the head of the saddle for dear life The reins, lay limp and were not leading the horse. They did not need to. He had obviously traveled this road before. What can I say? It reflects the length that this city will go to provide special care to its visitors
When people ask me about or tell me that they have just been to San Miguel de Allende, my first response is that it is not the real Mexico and, it isn’t, and maybe it doesn’t matter or maybe it’s better. What’s important is that they are visiting the interior of Mexico rather than just going to the beaches.
Though many wealthy Mexicans have weekend homes here, a large percentage of the residents are North Americans from the United States and Canada and they drive the economy and the offerings in town. They have also bought many of the houses in the Historic District, which is a World Heritage Site, and remodeled them carefully to the nth degree, very often sparing no expense. They support the art school, other artistic institutions, and the golf club. The latter seems to be a requirement for many well-to-do tourists and residents. These factors certainly add to the charm, beauty, and desirability of the place. But I still think of it somehow as a show piece.
All the streets are cobbled and the sidewalks are up high and very narrow ( about 18 inches wide.) They are not easy to navigate unless you are wearing Birkenstocks with socks, tennis shoes or hiking boots and a walking stick because traffic is heavy and, if you fall, you will certainly be hit. Not my look at all. I have problems with equilibrium and had to walk sideways, holding on to the wall to get to the peaceful and sparkling center of town with its manicured trees and gardens. Once there, I really could not maneuver the cobbled streets so really could not enjoy the town as much as others seem to do.
There are dozens of churches and their bells ring every hour on the hour, and even half hour. so all hotels provide ear plugs for those who are light sleepers. But you get used to it.
Harder to ignore is the constant music of all kinds. Tourists love fiestas and their seems to be one every night. The town band goes up and down the streets playing military marches, waltzes, and popular songs like Cielito Lindo. It makes me think of the parades in Disneyland, and in fact, many tourist guides refer to this beautiful city as a type of Disneyland. But people enjoy it and feel safe and in their comfort zone here so let’s be thankful for that. It’s perfect for less adventuresome travelers. It’s Mexico enough. And it is clean, safe and very, very pretty. Maybe they’ll venture out to picturesque Guanajuato or Dolores Hidalgo nearby and see the more real Mexico.
I would go back to San Miguel if I could again stay at the magnificent and absolutely gorgeous Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada Hotel. What a treat that was! Comprised of 5 different houses, each with their own but unified style, it captures the Mexican sense of decor, color, and hospitality. Plush towels bigger than me, soft cotton sheets on perfectly made beds in beautifully appointed rooms with great art.
Though for some people it’s not important, I judge a good hotel by how many electrical plugs they have in the room for my multiple technological gadgets and the wattage of the bulbs on the lamps. They were pretty dim but when I called to complain, they were exchanged in 10 minutes and I could read in bed, write. and put on my makeup.
Three views from my terraces
What service they offer! This is a place where not only your every wish is their command but where your every thought is read and everything you can possibly want is right their for your pleasure. Majordomo Gustavo Rodriguez brought me flaky croissants, chocolate rolls, and sticky buns fresh out of the oven, served with a luscious guava jam. (Can someone please get me the recipe?) I must confess I sinned and ate them but it was worth it! I did not find excellent or even very good food anywhere else but I was only there for two days shooting a television segment.
They are on a constant watch for your safety too. On my first evening there I went out alone and came back with an attractive and lovely young couple. I was literally one block away when the doorman saw me walking with them and he went to join us to help me, checking them out to make sure they were alright! I felt coddled, pampered, and very thankful for the experience of being in this deluxe class place for 3 nights.
I consider a trip a success if I make a new friend. Here I made two: Paulina and Nate who gave me a very fun night.