Saturday, February 17, 2007

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.


Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Marvellous post as usual :) And yes, greed bothers me too, coz I would sooner give the shirt off my back to someone who needed it, ya know?

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We met a group of campers from Germany yesterday. They had recently come back from Mexico and one woman was horrified by how many dead dogs there were everywhere they went down there.

The poverty I saw on the hopi mesa was the worst I've seen.

I've not been to Mexico but hope to someday.

9:03 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

The difference between the haves and the have nots is more noticeable in Mexico than almost any place else I have been. It is a great place to visit, however. But don't drink the water!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You do seem to get around quite a bit. Keep 'em comin'.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Boy, you sure have traveled a lot, Ginnie, thanks so much for taking us with you!!!

Greed makes me destructive. For the takers and the taken.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing it. I also felt the same way about Acapulco...a definite distinction between the have's and the have-not's.
BY the way....I happened to see Cinqueterri on the Travel Channel yesterday with Rick Steve and said to Ray, "HEY, my friend Ginnie just blogged about that place."'s just gorgeous!

2:33 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

The pictures are so charming. I've never been to Mexico and probably won't because I can't face the reality of that crushing poverty. I am a coward.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Ginnie,

Excellent post. I like the way you save the judgement for the end. Your descriptions of the town are just delicious. I stayed in Queretero for 8 weeks several years ago as part of a study abroad program. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that Mexico is an invisible country for the USA. It is not even on our weather maps. What a well-kept secret, a marvelous, magical, welcoming country.

I went to San Miguel. The self-satisfied ex-pats made me uncomfortable. What is so great about taking your retirement money and becoming a parasite on another person's block? How do they pay back? What kind of volunteer work do they do? I was really embarassed by them.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ginnie, everything about mexico is so complex that i thought your brief take on the personal and political was perfect.

agree with potato print in previous comment, though i'd point out that there is a very engaged volunteer community of americans/canadians in san miguel. in "adventures into mexico: american tourism beyond the border," my son has an essay that speaks to that issue. my own ambivalence about being a tourist there keeps me from returning.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Very interesting comments and I will definitely read "adventures into mexico: american tourism beyond the border," as suggested by Naomi. I am sure that many of the ex-pats have compassion for their adopted was just that I saw very little of it, and I was uncomfortable there.

2:28 PM  
Blogger dmmgmfm said...

Thanks for taking us with you on another of your fabulous trips. I love being a part of your exciting life!

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never been to Mexico, but I have spent a lot of time in Spain where ex-pats have almost taken over many towns, so that now you have to travel a long way from the coasts to find the 'real' Spain.

4:52 AM  

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