San Miguel deAllende.......2002
It was a wintry day in February of 2002 when a friend and I left North Carolina and flew to Mexico. We were stuck in Dallas for over 7 hours but we finally made it to the Leon airport. Lo and behold our driver, from the B&B, had waited for us and we were soon on our way to San Miguel De Allende, a two hour drive.
“Casa Murphy” was our destination and we found it tucked behind tall adobe walls lushly over-run with greenery. It is a small, family oriented B&B and we found that we’d made a good choice.
Everything in San Miguel is within walking distance and it’s almost impossible to get lost, since every road eventually leads to the “El Jardin”, the central plaza. This area is surrounded with lovely shops & eatery’s located in buildings that date back to the 1600’s.
San Miguel De Allende was in danger of becoming a ghost town at the turn of the 20th century. The revival began after World War II when the returning GI’s discovered that their education grants stretched further in Mexico at the US-accredited Art Schools. San Miguel soon became a center for American and Canadian expatriates and continues to be a haven for them today.
Actually, although the town is very picturesque and has become renowned as an Art Colony, I found the surrounding towns more to my liking. The fact that San Miguel is practically overrun with non-Mexicans tarnished it a bit for me.
I enjoyed the small town of Delores Hidalgo very much. This is where the famous Talavera ceramic tiles are made. We could actually watch the artisans as they colored the tiles before they were fired. It was Valentine’s day when we were there and we were treated to a special luncheon complete with live music and gifts of paper hearts and roses from the management.
Guanajuato, the birthplace of Diego Rivera, was my favorite spot, however. It was very interesting to visit his home and to see the paintings that he produced as a young boy. They were nothing like the dense and colorful murals that brought him such fame. One room was devoted to the paintings of his tempestuous wife, Frida Kahlo and they actually had a recording of her voice. I could see why she would be a good match for Diego.
Oddly enough, the other person who is revered in Guanajuato is not even real. He is the fictional character Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantino, the author who created him, was a native of the town and they actually have a museum dedicated to anything and everything that resembles “Don Quixote”. As a matter of fact, we found that most of Mexico considers him a national hero.
All in all it was an exciting trip but the disparity between the “haves” (the expatriates) and the “have-nots” ( the native Mexicans) bothered me a lot. It just seemed to be one more example of exploitation based on greed.