24 February 2015

San Miguel Redux and Anew

Another visit to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Sixth in three years. Subtle changes mostly please. New restaurants, more contemporary and eclectic in food and design. [La Parada, Peruvian, terrific in every way.] More rooftop dining. Shops more stylish (modo) also more expensive. More Mexican tourists, a good thing, neutralizing the effect of the large expat population, although their presence makes an Anglo feel more at ease. So many lectures, events, classes and music to satisfy mind and soul. A new small theater, the fourth, with a robust expat drama group mounting readings and original plays.

Streets clean and rough surfaces smoothed in spots. Colors vibrant: earth tones and blues, touches of gold. Flower boxes and bushes overflowing. And oh those gorgeous carved doors, still impress, occasionally open to reveal courtyards and gardens. Always a thrill to catch a glimpse of worlds within.

The 10th annual Writers Conference rose above unexpected/unusual winter rains [what conference organizer Susan Paige called global-wierding] with good cheer and terrific speakers: the great and glorious Gloria Steinem, the feisty Alice Walker, the wonderfully wise writer/lawyer Scott Turow, the tender poet Richard Blanco, and the humor and insight of Jane Urquhart. For me, on the faculty for the first time, teaching journalism, a rare treat to enjoy a faculty brunch and proudly wear the badge to all special events. 

I've been told the city is less safe than it was. Kidnappings of high profile residents and rapes have been reported. Purse snatchings or home thefts have always been around, as in all major cities. The prominence of police and military officers around Centro suggests concerns are true and add a safety net. One must always be careful in a city, but we never felt unsafe.

Visits with friends cemented the personal connection begun more than three years ago even though my daughter resides elsewhere now. This city has joined the pantheon of places I feel most at home: New York, San Francisco/Berkeley, Greenwich, CT, Laguna Beach/Dana Point, San Miguel de Allende.

However, beyond all its charms, the greater pleasure this visit  was showing off this lovely city to my amor. My late life love, who wasn't even known to me a year ago, and who fell in love, as so many do, with cobblestone streets, mountain vistas, the rich color palette and friendly people, and appreciated, as I always do, the easy pace as well as many opportunities for intellectual and cultural stimulation. And we too fell in love all over again. To stroll hand in hand, to seek out new dining spots, to relish the resounding of the church bells from our lovely hotel dead center of town at the Jardin... I never understood before that San Miguel is also for lovers. Now I know. We will return.

However, first we will head back to Oaxaca, another smashing city, very different with charms of its own and far more Mexican than Anglo... but that's another blog.