A few weeks ago, I was invited to join my friends, Elinor and Eduardo, on a little weekend getaway to San Miguel de Allende. As it was high on my list of things I want to do while I’m in Mexico and only a few hours drive north of D.F., I jumped at the chance.
Of course, I didn’t actually know anything about San Miguel or what to expect. A girl had simply told me all about her adventures volunteering in an orphanage in this pretty, peaceful town and that I should seize any opportunity to go there. She was high on ecstasy at the time so I did wonder what kind of place allowed a crazy girl like this to look after children.
I flicked through the pages in my Lonely Planet Mexico only an hour before I was picked up and came across this sentence:
There are few sights: San Miguel is the sight.
This was going to be an interesting weekend.
But with these folks as your company, you’re pretty much guaranteed the day is never dull:
And these are also friends who don’t just stop for coffee; They insist that THIS is the drink to start your day:
We’d just managed to miss the rain when we arrived so, as it was late afternoon, we decided to take a wander around the town to get a good feel of everything.
The beautiful colonial streets that are so typical of many Mexican towns and villages is something I miss while living in D.F.
There’re plenty of museums in the Big Smoke and you can certainly get a lot of history lessons, but sights like these are rare to come by.
As the day came to an end, we wandered in and out of parks, churchyards and little shops selling handcrafts, before heading back to the Zócalo in time for the Mariachi.
I hadn’t realised how much I’d been craving small town life after living in one of the biggest cities in the world for so long.
People were friendlier here: Everyone greeted you with a smile; Traffic actually stopped for pedestrians (something Elinor and I found difficult to adjust to); No-one was afraid to help you should you ask for directions. The tranquility in the air and the strong sense of togetherness and community reminded me a lot of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
The only difference was the ratio of foreigners and citizens. Never had I seen so many foreigners come together to one place but my Lonely Planet had already told me to watch out for that: San Miguel was a haven for American retirees who’d moved down here to live out the rest of their years. As a result, the town was not a cheap one.
Nevertheless, we decided to check out a little of the nightlife and found a bar three stories up with a wonderful view of the town below.
The next day was one of the most relaxing I’ve ever experienced in my life.
We took a trip to El Escondido, a series of hotsprings located right outside San Miguel. The sun was out in all its glory and, in spite of the few pounds I may have gained in the last couple of months, I threw caution to the wind, donned my bathing suit and joined my friends in the beautiful warm pools.
Now I’ve never been one to … relax. I’m a very calm person most of the time but I’ve never been able to shut off my brain and fully dive into taking it easy and relaxing. I was even tense in that yoga & meditation lesson I took a few years ago.
But here, floating around in the hot water, surrounded by nature, I was truly at ease. All the stress of my job, my being away from home, my money problems, completely disappeared for the first time in my life.
(You’ll thank me for not having any pictures of myself in a bathing suit.)
After a glorious morning at the hotsprings, we headed back into town. Eduardo decided to stay at the hostel to catch up on a bit of work, so Elinor and I made our way to a beautiful organic restaurant not too far away.
We decided to order a nice, fresh pizza to share but were slightly … err … gobsmacked (much to the staff’s amusement) at the size of this thing when it arrived:
After lunch (and with plenty of leftovers to bring back to Eduardo), the three of us took to the streets of San Miguel once again to do some exploring.
The sun was out, the people were smiling, and a stage was being set up in the Zócalo for the evening’s festivities.
Of course, one of the places we’d never dream of walking straight past was a little café that featured four different types of hot chocolate on the menu … all served with churros!
As the sun began to set we headed back to the Zócalo to check out the musical festivities. The square was filled with a flurry of friends and family, dancing, greeting each other, catching up, eating popcorn and tacos, sitting to watch the band play different styles of Latin songs, and generally having a good time.
No-one was drunk and causing mischief; There were no police or paramedics on standby. What a difference between the Saturday night of this beautiful (supposedly ‘dangerous’) country and a Saturday night of the country I hail from.
The participants of the binge drinking culture of Britain could probably stand to learn a few things.
Sunday morning saw us pack up and bid adiós to San Miguel de Allende.
The peacefulness of the town had given us a well-deserved break from the noise and fast-paced craziness of D.F. but it was time to start heading back.
On our way out, we chanced upon the highest point overlooking San Miguel and jumped out of the car to get one last look, take a few pictures and absorb the last moments of calm in the air.