The last time we were in San Miguel de Allende was 1990 and I must admit I didn’t remember too much about it. I did remember the central plaza area, but even that was remembered differently. Today San Miguel is settled by a lot of “ex-pats” and especially those that are “artists”. Yes, this is truly an artists community… Being a World Heritage Site with a well preserved historic area dating from 1550’s, the mostly colonial buildings
are still continuously bringing tourists from all over the world and has again brought us to visit and explore. Sol, Carol, Louise, and I drove over 400 miles in one afternoon to get here. Our route was to take us around Guadalajara but like many times when you try to take a short cut, you find yourself heading directly into the areas you wanted to miss… I really don’t mind driving through the major cities but when you are trying not too it will drive you crazy. Signage is the problem here in Mexico. Most of the time your directional sign is pretty good, but then there are the other times were you have no idea as to where you are heading. It’s not uncommon for the signs to be hidden behind trees and bush so you’ve got to be diligent while driving or navigating. Another problem is when they give you names of other areas in the direction that you are going that mean nothing to you but are listed as the primary location and direction. Once we cleared Guadalajara again we were on our way… 8 ½ hours later we were in San Miguel and looking for a hotel.
Being a “Colonial” town the signage on the buildings are small and hidden from sight but with a little luck and determination we found a small B&B within a couple of blocks of the central plaza. The houses have solid walls against the sidewalks. They’re painted in various colors with many featuring bougainvillea vines falling down the outside and the occasional iron grated window. The first night, we walked up the hill and into the plaza which is the location of the “red-sand church” (Parish of San Miguel).
We were looking to find a place to enjoy dinner and do a little exploring. Now we knew that we were “inland” from La Penita, and we knew that the chance for the weather being much cooler we dressed much warmer for the evening ventures. We also knew to ask for “agua caliente” when checking into our room as hot water is a must if you want a morning shower…well the agua caliente wasn’t so caliente, it was more “frio”, at least for the first ½ hour or so … We started our first morning with a great cup of Starbucks before heading out to see the sights. We heard about a huge market that was located well outside of town, so we jumped into the car and headed out. It turned out to be more of the same type of trinkets that we have found in the markets elsewhere but we had to go see anyway. Later that afternoon we took a bus tour. It took us to some of the same places we had found on our own but it also took us to some great treasures as well. One of the treasures was the unique “laundry” gathering place.
Each morning you can find the some of the local ladies bringing their laundry into the court, turning on the water and getting their whites even whiter. This one dates back to the 1600’s and is still used today. Yes, it has had a little modernizing but it’s still quaint. San Miguel is also known for being the first town to have a Pemex station.
Pemex is the state owned gas station conglomerate. Here is the first pump and the location that fuel was available by Pemex in the 1950’s.