Fall Approaching San Miguel de Allende

Author: , September 8th, 2013
San Miguel Skyline

San Miguel Skyline

We are seeing an early beginning to Fall this year with a good deal of rain which is always a good thing.  Our rain, under normal circumstances, is more tropical, in that it comes fast and furious in the late afternoon or early evening for an hour or so and is done.  But these last couple of years we have actually had overcast and drizzle on occasion.  In the 10 years plus that I’ve lived here, this is rare.

I am going to begin posting a San Miguel website ‘San Miguel Events’.  This changes each week and will give you a good idea of some of the activities here.

I also want to let those of you using iPads that I’ve done a new web site for the iPad.  My main website is Flash and as such can not be seen on the iPad.  www.susurrobandb.com

The ‘San Miguel Events’ website is: www.sanmiguelevents.com where you can read more in depth on these various activities.

Works on paper featuring birds and butterflies
Esperanza studio presents
Sunday, September 8, 1-4pm
Working with Wine Bottles; workshop
Taller de Re-Ciclado de Botellas de Vino
Sunday, September 8, 3-5pm
Free Hugs! Abrazos Gratis!
Sunday, September 8, 1-4pm
Mixed Media Classes
texture and abstract lettering with Jane Dill
September 9-11
6 Dance Classes
6 different courses beginning week of September 9
IONS community discussion group
new location, Institute of Noetic Studies
Monday, September 9, 3:30-5pm

Secrets of Cañada de la Virgen -free
Rotary
Tuesday, September 10, 12:30pm
Henri De Toulouse Lautrec – lecture
The Court Painter Of The Moulin Rouge
Wednesday, September 11, 4:30 and 6:30
SM Literary Sala
Gordon Cope & Libby Spiro
Thursday, September 12, 5-7pm
Fiesta Mexicana 2013
Friday, September 13, 6-9pm
The Atomic Salon Diaries – opening
Laura Honse
Friday, September 13, 7:30
Triciclo – concert
Friday, September 13, 8pm

Cathey Miller “Happy Girls & Pistols” -opening
Chicas Felices y Pistolas
Saturday, September 14, 1-4pm
abstract Fantastic and Nasty
mixed exhibit/performance
Saturday, September 14, 8pm
Championship Boxing, Gambling -benefit
Academia International
Saturday, September 14, 8pm
Vida y obra de Don Ignacio Allende
viernes y sabado, septiembre 13 y 14, 8pm
Arts and Crafts Fair
Saturday, Sunday, September 14 and 15, 9am-5pm
Improv Comedy classes – new 5 week series
begins on Wednesday, September 18
Hazel & Perlet: A Symbolist Bouquet
The Gallery, Aldama 3
Pascual, new paintings
Galeria Skot Foreman

Magazine SMA
articles, reviews, short stories, poems
Entering the Mystery
Rio Cuellar
click on photos / links below for more information    Support San Miguel Events

Robert Waters is the owner/manager of SUSURRO Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and is a guest blogger.

Click here for gay travel resources in Guanajuato.

 

San Miguel:The Most Interesting Town In The World

Author: , June 27th, 2013

I thought this article by Kelly Lee fun, interesting and informative.  Of course, I would have preferred that they had stayed with me at SUSURRO, but they had a great time here and that is what is important.

The ancient town of San Miguel de Allende—founded in 1542, making it Mexico’s oldest colonial town—is buried like a chest of rubies and pearls deep in the central mountains: Bathed in eternal sunshine, a world-class art school, candy-colored haciendas & savory scents of cinnamon-and-sugar-doused churros wafting down its cobblestone streets, has become an oasis for the world’s most inspired travelers, adventurers & artists. TREATS! channels the mix of storybook lanes of art galleries, sun-dappled courtyards, firecracker nights, candlelit rooftop cocktails & Audrey Hepburn’s former fit model at Givenchy that all make San Miguel de Allende la Ciudad más Interesante en el Mundo.
by Kelly Lee

In a bleary-eyed haze, we drive into the storied sun-swept artist’s oasis that is San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. We arrive from the Los Angeles on a direct three-hour flight at the lonely hour of 3am, keen on seeing what all the fuss is about, but vastly underprepared. After accepting a last-minute invitation to join on a trip to the Central Mexican mountain town, perched a mile above sea level, we can only respond when asked by friends and family, “Is it safe?” with an honest answer: “Guess we’ll find out.”

At the small, modern airport of León-Guanajuato, we are met by a tall, thin teenage boy who timidly holds a sign bearing our names. After some hand-gesturing and soft-spoken broken English and Spanish between us, he escorts us to our car, where we’re greeted by the boy’s father. He’s along for the ride and to help his son, our driver-in-training, navigate the 70-mile journey from León into San Miguel. Along the way, he confesses in perfect English that he hopes his son will choose to join the family business, a business that is in large part buoyed by expats, largely Americans and Canadians, yearning to explore Mexico’s oldest colonial town, San Miguel de Allende, founded in 1542.

We cruise as if on a slow-moving roller coaster, as our timorous driver cautiously traverses Central Mexico’s mountainous, rocky, arid, and mostly empty terrain. Next to him, his proud, dozing father wakes only to direct “a la izquierda”  (to the left) or “a la derecha” (to the right) after being jarred out of slumber by the abundant speed bumps, some formed by nature, others by man.

 We observe in the early-morning silence the light morph from an ombré gradation of inky indigo, turquoise, and periwinkle to amethyst, amber, and blush. The sun begins to wake, cresting over the hill just as a herd of cattle descends the mountain, brazenly claiming right of way. We sit in the stillness of dawn, waiting patiently, awestruck by the bovine crossing that is both remarkably swift and deliberate.

One and a half hours after our roller coaster ride begins, we enter the narrow cobblestone streets of  San Miguel de Allende. Flanked by sinuous rows of ruddy, dulce-colored haciendas, we arrive at our destination. It’s 5am.

We bid our drivers adios and find ourselves, suitcases in hand, standing before a turquoise arched doorway engulfed in spritely fuchsia bougainvillea.

WE HAVE ARRIVED

In the three-story, intensely hued hacienda that we’ve rented through HomeAway along with our companions for just under $90 per night in the San Antonio neighborhood, we climb our way up the lime-painted staircase of Casa de los Amigos to the second story for a languorous siesta in one of two festively appointed bedrooms. Hours later, we awake to find our companions enjoying coffee and local pastries in the courtyard, and soon stumble into town for lunch on a rooftop garden, which we’ll soon learn are plentiful in San Miguel and prime for drinking in the town’s pink-and-gold-flecked sunsets and never-ending fireworks.

Bathed in eternal sunshine, we take in the 360-degree views over elegant, local Mexican fare, the uncomplicated but satisfying flavors, along with a glass or two of wine, to assuage our mild jet lag. We tour the town, beginning with El Jardín, the town’s main plaza, heartbeat, and hub for locals, who can be found quietly observing and chatting atop benches poised beneath tautly manicured laurel trees.

On weekends, the Jardín transforms into a boisterous meeting place vibrating with the pulse of young families. Children nibble cinnamon-and-sugar-doused churros while mariachis make merry. Bunting and streamers dance in the wind. Pedestrian walkways surround El Jardín on three sides. On the fourth, we note that the unofficial town car is the classic Volkswagen Bug, as one after another lurches by in candy colors befitting the buildings of San Miguel. We deeply inhale the intoxicating scent of our surroundings—a unique mix of jacaranda and helotes (roasted corn), as we bask in the glow of the pink-granite parish church, La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.

Often compared to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, La Parroquia and its rosy neo-gothic spires feel much less jarring—less fun house—yet equally as awing against the cerulean sky. A street vendor offers us hats for one dollar, but we pass, opting to explore the dusty cobblestone streets in full view of el sol. Vendors are friendly, but refreshingly unobtrusive, only offering their wares once for every  “no gracias.”

We imbibe the well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture that the 500-year-old town is renowned for, and for which helped earn its designation as an Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008. The baroque buildings and stone streets rival the most enchanting parts of Spain and Italy, including Rome’s charming cobblestoned Trastevere neighborhood and Andalucían Spain’s blissfully unpopulated town of Montejaque. We resolve to see more, but for now we must prepare for the evening’s activities: dinner, drinks, and live music with local expats.

We drive to the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, past a Mega grocery store and a multiplex movie theatre—San Miguel is growing—to meet our guides and companions for the night. A Swiss-German couple welcomes us into their home, an elegantly rambling estate they purchased over 30 years ago solely because it had a phone line, and which they renovated extensively 10 years ago when they made San Miguel their full-time residence.

Over martinis and champagne on the patio, we learn their stories: he a retired CEO, she Audrey Hepburn’s former fit model at Givenchy; they first visited San Miguel for a week, each subsequent visit growing longer, eventually leading to the acquisition of a vacation home, which ultimately became their permanent residence. After living all around the world, there was nowhere else the pair would rather be than San Miguel de Allende.

THEY ARE NOT ALONE

The baroque buildings and stone streets rival the most enchanting parts of Spain and Italy, including Rome’s charming cobblestoned Trastevere neighborhood and Andalucían Spain’s blissfully unpopulated town of Montejaque. With the public relations and marketing assistance of American artist and writer, William Stirling Dickinson, a transplant from Chicago, they began advertising the school in the United States as a place where veterans on the GI Bill could study and live the good life.

The pair, along with former Guanajuato governor, Enrique Fernández Martínez, and Nell Harris, Fernandez’ wife, went on to found another art school, the Instituto Allende, which has become one of the city’s main draws, furthering San Miguel’s reputation as an international art destination. Over the next week, we visit the Instituto, exploring its sculpture studio and Diego Rivera murals. We inquire about classes; the spell has been cast.

We’re already planning our next trip, perhaps a permanent one. Afternoons are enjoyed languidly ambling through town, discovering all of San Miguel’s many charms. Despite the high stuccoed walls that line the cobbled streets, which at first seem foreboding and exclusive, we dare to peek behind them. Doors open to enchanting finds: sweet-smelling bakeries, bed and breakfasts, sun-dappled courtyards serving lunch, even world-class hotels like Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which attracts Mexico City’s chic-seekers and where rooms easily go for upwards of $300 per night. The mix of cosmopolitan and historical is a powerful concoction.

We stroll the storybook lanes and discover galleries of art where the stories often outshine the brushstrokes. A gallerist opens her doors—and more. A transplant from Connecticut who tired of the harsh winters, she’s wistful as she gives us a tour of her gallery and home, which is soon to be minimized—not by choice—due to a wobbly legal system. Though her fight against an admittedly corrupt government was for naught, she had plenty of support from fellow expats.

“It’s easy to find community here as an outsider, as a gringo,” she explains. “Other expats see you and say  ‘Oh, you’re one of us. How can I help?’” Sometimes, she admits, the help that is offered is more than one needs. A group of friends, a mature “ladies who lunch” crowd, advised she could fix the problem another way: by finding someone in a neighboring town infamous for hitmen. “I politely passed,” she relays. While she decided to turn the other cheek, it must be asked: “Is it worth it?” The answer is a resounding yes. “San Miguel de Allende is home,” she states matter of fact.

AND SO IT IS

More than a destination, San Miguel de Allende is an experience, often a transformative one. The rest of our visit consists of a routine as breezy as the big blue sky. We wake late, brunch in our courtyard, then head out to explore by foot or $3 cab ride the sights and sounds San Miguel has to offer.  Fábrica La Aurora, a former turn-of-the-century textile mill that now houses art galleries and design shops is a highlight. Some days, our al fresco adventures lead us to neighboring towns like the tiny 600-person village of Atotonilco to explore places like El Santuario de Atotonilco, known as  the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.”

Along the way, we pass vaqueros on horseback and creased faces moving their flocks of sheep. We then enjoy a leisurely lunch in a hidden courtyard, head home for a siesta, waking in time to take in the magical sunsets from our rooftop garden. A delicious meal—anything from Italian pasta to Argentine steak—often accompanied by live music, rounds out the days, the ideal mix of exploration and inspiration. We see all of the town’s main sights, but as with love, if asked why you adore your object of affection—the truthful answer comes down to an inexplicable feeling.

The feelings San Miguel evokes are: inspired, enchanted, ready to pick up and move. Which, begs the question: “Do you feel safe?” Overwhelmingly. Well insulated from the violence plaguing the border towns of Mexico, what at first sound like gunshots reverberating through San Miguel de Allende are quickly determined to be firecrackers, which are set off for celebrations of all kind, many religious and ceremonial. At all hours, day and night. Expats joke that firecrackers are set off for the brushing of one’s teeth. Indeed, there’s much to celebrate in San Miguel de Allende.

Though some fear that too many visitors could lead to the Fisherman’s Wharfication of San Miguel, the real locals—the Mexicans who have been living in San Miguel for ages—don’t begrudge the expat and tourist influx. In fact, most welcome it, acknowledging  just how much the dollars help San Miguel’s economy. It’s one reason that, unlike its other Mexican town counterparts, San Miguel de Allende is flourishing. San Miguel feels like a secret you want to keep to yourself, but you’re just too excited to share. The secret’s out. But, go, go now. Just in case.

Kelly Lee is a Beverly Hills-based lifestyle, travel, and fashion writer and is the editor of the popular daily style blog KellyGolightly.com. When she’s not sharing her discoveries with readers around the globe, she can be found shooting photos in the desert, scouting the next “it” destination, hunting for vintage treasures, or tasting the local delicacy of whichever country she finds herself in next.

© 2013 Treats, LLC. All rights reserved.

San Miguel’s Mojigangas

Author: , June 24th, 2013

Yesterday I wrote about our many wedding celebrations wherein they use mojigangas, larger than life size paper mache figures, in the parades following the weddings.  These fanciful figures are also used in birthday parties and other parades around town.  Here are a few mojiganga photos taken by my friend David Nobbe.  We have a couple of families here in San Miguel who make these for rent or for sale in some cases, mainly they are for rent.  Depending on the size, a small boy is able to manipulate the figure or if it is especially large, a man or woman will be in side.  You will just see their feet.  Lots of fun.  As you can see from the photo to the left, some are quite large

.Mohigangas        IM000009

Robert Waters is a guest blogger and owner of Susurro Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

www.susurro.com.mx

Summer in San Miguel de Allende

Author: , June 23rd, 2013

Summer in San Miguel de Allende is our slow time of year.  I’m not sure why.  It’s a bit warmer than our winter, but not all that much.  The temperatures usually range between the mid-80’s to mid-90’s with an occasional burst of rain which will clean the streets and please the plants.  We usually do not have days that are completely overcast.  The sun is always close at hand.

I like to take advantage of a slower time here in the B & B to do more entertaining of friends, include my guests if they are not too busy exploring,  complete projects that are difficult to do with guests here and just enjoy the town in a quieter mode.

During the week, the town is much more tranquil this time of year, but beginning Friday the Mexican tourists will begin to arrive.  Lots of eye candy.  It is amazing how some of the girls can navigate our cobble stone streets in 6″ wedge spikes and tight, tight skirts. We have become a big wedding destination and a weekend get-away for the Mexican tourists from Mexico City and nearby towns.  The weddings are always on Saturdays.  After the ceremony there will usually be a foot parade from the church to the party central.  This will include a burro, all tarted up with paper flowers and a keg of tequila which will be dispensed to the wedding party as they head for the after wedding fiesta.  They are given a small cup, a really small cup,  which they hang around their neck on a string and have refilled, a lot.  There can also be mojigangas included in the parade.  These are larger than life size or double life size paper mache figures with someone inside the hollow structure.  They dance along the streets with the crowd.

If we don’t have wedding celebrations, we have religious and National celebrations.  Sometimes we are having all of these at once. Any excuse will do.  So, all of you thinking of marriage, come on down and do it in this beautiful colonial town.

 

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Robert Waters is a guest blogger and  the owner of Susurro Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico  www.susurro.com.mx

January Events in San Miguel de Allende

Author: , January 22nd, 2013

Patio7

San Miguel Events

Henry Miller, the Painter
Lecture, Casa Verde
Wednesday, Jan. 23

The Priceless Chapel
art opening, artist and poet Daniel Patrick Helmstetter
Wednesday, Jan. 23

The Perfect Censorship
Jennifer Clement, PEN Conferences
Tuesdays

opening, Rug Hook Store
Mujeres en Cambio traditional “Rancho” lunch
Thursday, Jan. 24

SMA LGBT Lounge Night
Dos Casas
Thursdays

Enrique Garrik
concert
Thursday, Jan. 25

opening, ZOA: 3 Artists
Zoë, Oscar, Anado
Saturday, Jan. 26

opening, Arte Actual
Ma Guadalupe Palafox
Saturday, Jan. 26

House
a “one man comedy nightmare”
Monday, Jan. 28

San Antonio Art Walk
24 artists, 2 days, great neighborhood
Saturday, Feb. 2 and Sunday, Feb. 3

San Miguel Film Festival
through Saturday, Jan. 26

Interview: ZOA Artists
Zoë Siegel, Oscar M. Heredia, Anado McLachlin

Studies in Natural Aromatics
classes, salon

Shannon Reece
Portrait of the Artist

Robert Waters is a guest blogger and the owner of Susurro Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico  http://www.susurro.com.mx

 

San Miguel de Allende Parties and Culture

Author: , January 21st, 2013

January 21, 2013

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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Parties and Culture

San Miguel de Allende does not need an excuse for a party, fireworks, parade or native dancers in the main square, the Jardin, as it is called.

Many days of the week we have church bells chiming the advent of a saint’s day or religious holiday.  As liberal as Mexico is, it is a religious country.  There are so many church events I can’t keep up with them, but with luck, my wonderful cook, Lola, knows them all.  ‘Lola, what are they celebrating today?’  It will be Saint Catherine or Saint John or….Christmas and Easter week of course are big ones.

We are also a big wedding destination.  The weddings are almost always on Saturday and the party will often go until 2-3am.  Getting from the church to the post ceremony event is often a parade with a burro tarted up with paper flowers and small tequila cups.  Yes, tequila. As the wedding party walks from the church, led by mariachis, someone will be giving out thimble cups of reposado or anejo tequila.  Most of the women will have removed their heals to walk barefooted or sandaled down the cobble streets.   Several of the post ceremony event locations are not too far away from Susurro, so we are often the beneficiaries of these festivities passing by our door.

The first week in January is always Poetry Week where renowned poets come for the week to conduct seminars for would-like-to-be and already-are poets either professional or amateur.  Certain evenings, readings are open to the public and the products of these seminars can be pretty amazing.

Right now we are getting ready for the San Miguel Writer’s Conference and Literary Festival, February 13 – 17.  8 published authors will be here, some you know and some not, at least for me.  They will be giving 56 workshops for readers and writers with single ticket events open to the public.

Interspersed between these larger events we have concerts at different venues around town – classical, guitar, pop and jazz.  There are also easy day trips to Guanajuato, the birth place of Diego Rivera, Canada de la Virgin, our local pyramids, Dolores Hidalgo for ceramics and of course just wandering the cobble streets.

In the last year or so, the Mexican tourists have found us.  For years past we have been pretty much a destination for the North American traveler.  Now the beautiful people from Mexico City, Leon, Guanajuato, Queretaro and Monterrey are coming for long weekends.  The streets fill with eye candy and the Jardin will be jumping Fridays and Saturdays until late.  The bars and discos will be full of those who want to stay up.

I will do another article later devoted to the gay life here.  We do have a fairly large gay community but are not really a ‘gay party’ town.  Most everyone coming here is interested in culture and art and music, good food and to be in this beautiful, Colonial Mexican town.

Robert Waters is a guest blogger who owns Susurro a bed and breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

http://www.susurro.com.mx

 

 

 

 

The Food of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Author: , January 9th, 2013

January 09, 2012

The Food of San Miguel de Allende

Relleno137

If you like food like I do, San Miguel de Allende has some great restaurants and if you are adventurous, some good street carts for tacos.  There is an array of food, Indian, Peruvian, Vietnamese, Chinese, lots of Italian, some great hamburgers, New Orleans style, Texas ribs and barbecue and of course Mexican from great street cart tacos to haute cuisine and mouth watering carnitas, pork slow cooked in huge copper vats that you then wrap in a tortilla with some salsa and pico de gallo which is tomato, onion, serrano chile and cilantro.  Those of us who live here full time are very happy for this diversity, but since you have traveled to Mexico we at Susurro offer a Mexican breakfast every morning.  Some of the hotels serve a fusion International-Mexican fare that works some time but I prefer some beautifully prepared fajitas with a smoky salsa, corn or flour tortillas and some heavy cream to drizzle over all of that.  One of our breakfasts is a corn pudding served with rajas, corn kernels, sautéed onion and cream.  The rajas are julienned chile poblanos which have been roasted and peeled.  The onions are sautéed and to them is added the poblanos, corn kernels and cream and, well, for the carnivores some crisp bacon on the side.  Poblanos are the chiles used for chile rellenos.  They can be spicy at times depending on the time of year.  To take some of this picante out of the pepper, after roasting, you can soak it in some hot water for 15 to 30 minutes.  One of the street carts not far from here serves tacos with these thinly sliced poblanos combined with some chunks of Mexican farm cheese or Queso Oaxaca which is similar to our string cheese.  Top this with some chopped onion, cilantro and maybe some salsa and you are in heaven.

For those of us who just need a burger fix just outside of town is La Burger which sit in the country side under an open air arbor.  They serve an incredible hamburger, the beef they select and grind themselves and the fries are cut on the premises.  They also have wonderful steaks.  All of these are grilled over a huge wood burning fire.

Robert Waters is a guest blogger who owns Susurro a bed and breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico  http://www.susurro.com.mx

San Miguel de Allende 2013

Author: , January 1st, 2013

Happy New Year everyone.  Here we are beginning a New Year and I am beginning a new blog from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where I live and work.   San Miguel sits on a high plateau in the center of Mexico about 3 1/2 hours North of Mexico City.  Did you know that Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world, legalized same sex marriage over a year ago.  All other states in Mexico are also now required to recognize these marriages.  I’m not yet sure what this means other than the fact that this is a liberal, forward moving country recognizing the rights of others.  So, that said, San Miguel itself is a picture of this open mindedness.

San Miguel is a small, colonial town of about 100,000 population.  Fairly narrow cobble stone streets lined with Spanish colonial buildings harks back to it’s 17th – 18th century origins.  Well, 18th century origins as far as the Spaniards are concerned.  Different indigenous peoples were here long before the colonizers arrived, the evidence of them is a wonderful newly opened archeological site just outside of San Miguel, Virgin de la Canada.

We have become a major tourist destination, one of the top 10 in the world according to some travel polsters.  When I first came here to start my bed and breakfast in 2003, the majority of tourists were North Americans and a smattering of Europeans.  However, over the last several years following our becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mexicans tourist have discovered us.  The beautiful people from Mexico City, Queretaro, Leon, Guadalajara and other cities fill the streets on Fridays and Saturdays.  The main square or Jardin, as it is called, is a lively center for music, dance, strolling and people watching.  On holidays, and the Mexicans love their holidays, any excuse for a fiesta, there will be fireworks, parades, church bells ringing and indigenous dancers bedecked in loin cloths and feathers.  In the evenings, the Jardin is filled with mariachis who for a few pesos will sing the song of your choice.

San Miguel really represents all of Mexico.  Fabrics from Oaxaca and Chiapas, ceramics from Puebla, Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato and the North, regional foods and folk art.  We have also been listed as second only to Mexico City for our food and restaurants.  I am a foodie so will be writing about the cuisine here and also giving an occasional recipe.DSCF0803

So, here I’ve given you a taste of this wonderful colonial town.  Look for more as I continue to post.

Robert Waters is a guest blogger who runs his bed and breakfast, Susurro, in the Colonial Center of San Miguel, Mexico.

http://www.susurro.com.mx