On November 4, 2015 we flew out of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport for Leon, Mexico. We were headed to San Miguel de Allende, in the Highlands of Central Mexico and the flight path took us right over Big Bend National Park, in the Southwest corner of Texas.
Taking a shared shuttle, the 1 hr 20 mins drive to San Miguel was uneventful. Soon we found ourselves in narrow, cobblestone streets with brightly colored houses. At one point we had to take turns going around a tree which was growing in the middle of the steep road! Before we knew it, the driver had climbed a hill over some very uneven ground and was letting us off in a courtyard tucked away in a canyon.
The 3 story house is built into the side of a canyon and the westward view of the Baijo Mountains from the roof top patio was breathtaking.
The colors, sounds and light caressed our senses and we knew that we had come to a truly remarkable city. That night we fell into bed – a good bed and had a great sleep!
OUR FIRST FULL DAY – Jouko is a little out of sorts. A number of things are irritating him! Slow Wi-Fi, a cold shower, broken coffee machine, and bad-tasting ‘long life’ milk… But I’m determined to keep my stiff upper lip! Fortunately, he is able to fix most things with his trusty Swiss Army knife!
This was our first experience with Airbnb and as with many things in life, we’ve learned a thing or two. For instance, we’re responsible dog lovers but have learned that it’s best to avoid places that have dogs. Constant barking will shatter the peace – and test your nerves! Fortunately, the dogs were eventually brought under control and we were able to enjoy the rest of our stay.
We ventured out for lunch. For the first time we can see and experience the cobblestone streets and their high-sided, narrow side walks. Important to have good sandals and walking shoes!
On our way out to lunch, we meet our interim host, a friendly Venezuelan guy, who is able to fix the cold shower situation……..”oh!, he says, I forgot to turn on the furnace!!” And our good fortune continues a few days later when we find some “real” milk.
We found something to eat and then wandered the streets completely fascinated by the architecture and quaintness of the town.
San Miguel’s history dates back to the 1500s but flourished in the mid 1600s when Silver Mines were established in nearby Guanajuato. In the early 1800s, the seeds of revolution were sown here, and in 1810 Mexico triumphed in it’s war of independence from Spain.
The town later fell into disrepair and was in danger of becoming a ghost town. After having been “discovered” and revived by foreign artistic communities in the early 20th century, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. One interesting restriction imposed by this valued designation, is that one can choose from only 8 colors when repainting the exterior of a building!
The Jardin forms the center of the town. The perfect place to people watch! The Parish Church, La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel (built in the 17th century, with the Gothic facade being completed in 1880), dominates the square, with its trimmed Mulberry trees and wrought iron benches.
It is the place to see the balloon sellers, basket sellers and women selling dolls and shawls.
One can even get a shoe shine while listening to music!