San Miguel Holiday

MANY YEARS AGO in Puerto Rico, the early 1970s, I was visiting a friend in her Old San Juan apartment. Another woman was there, a visitor from the United States. I did not know her.

For some reason, she asked if I’d ever been in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and I told her no. She then asked if I was gay, and I gave her the same response. Why would she ask that?

Flash forward 40 years or so till last weekend. We paid San Miguel a visit, scarcely for the first time. The official purpose was to attend the Food Fest — or, as San Miguel calls it, the Gastronomic Festival — but we really just wanted to get off the mountaintop for a spell.

For years our favorite hotel was the Siesta on the outskirts of downtown. It was an old, sprawling, single-story place consisting mostly of connected rock cabins. The rooms were big, and you parked right outside your door. I loved it. But they tore it down. There’s just a weedy lot there now.

So we met Gerardo Ruíz online and stayed in a room at his house. His place is part of the Fabrica La Aurora, an old cloth factory of days gone by that has been turned into a huge complex of art galleries and related stuff.

And Gerardo Ruiz is an artist of considerable renown, it seems. His work, not surprisingly, was all over the walls of his house and studio.

2Our room had a high ceiling. It was painted white. There were two twin beds that were very comfortable. The connecting bathroom had a large counter by the sink. The shower worked well. The toilet flushed fantastically. We found a scorpion in there the first night, and I stomped him dead.

OneThere was a huge, screened window in the bedroom that opened to a long-neglected garden with tall trees, cacti and bushes where crickets crooned us to sleep every night. We slept the sleep of angels and little children.

We ate at the Food Festival Saturday afternoon, but we also dined at two of the three restaurants in La Aurora. One was a fancy burger joint and the other was a coffee shop slash restaurant where we enjoyed vanilla ice cream atop brownies one afternoon and breakfast Sunday morning.

You don’t get that sort of stuff here on the mountaintop where we live.

Sometimes you gotta get out of town and see how other people live.

11 thoughts on “San Miguel Holiday”

  1. I so hope to get to San Miguel someday in the not too distant future. Thanks for this info. Except about the alacran. Rooms that have windows like that are my kind of place; far better than an air conditioned hotel room all closed up tight. I like that photo!

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    1. Angeline: You’ve never been to San Miguel?! It is worth a visit or two for sure. It is unlike anywhere else in Mexico due to the heavy foreign influence, mostly Gringos, but not just any sort of Gringo. Those who bring the U.S. on their shoulders and their art supplies in their Range Rovers.

      Alacrans (scorpions) are not rare in San Miguel. Oddly, where I live just three hours south, you never see one, or at least I have never seen one here. Not one. San Miguel is more of a desert environment, thus the occasional scorpion.

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  2. So SMA only has heterosexuals??? I strongly suspect that there are a few (maybe many) sissy boys over there. You just ran into a nut, Felipe. I see tourists like that every once in awhile.

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    1. Señor Mystic: I assume you are referring to the comment made to me in San Juan. I have no notion why she asked me that. Maybe it was because I was so pretty.

      As for San Miguel, of course, it is famous for gays of all descriptions. San Miguel is all about art, and who does art more or better than our gay brethren?

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  3. So you’ve now had your taste of la ciudad agringada. It doesn’t sound as horrible as you expected.

    Today Al wrote an interesting post on the divide between gringos and Mexicans in SMA on Rancho Santa Clara (on Steve’s sidebar). You might enjoy it.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, Ma
    Where we increasingly think that we could not live in SMA, despite its charms.

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    1. Kim: You sound like it was my first trip. Anything but. I’ve been to San Miguel scads of times, starting about 14 years ago. And I don’t think it’s horrible. I think it’s amusing, I suppose, more than anything. It is what it is, a place wildly embraced at first by arty types from abroad and now a colossal tourist attraction and draw for Americans and other foreigners, all made easier for the Gringos and Canucks by the lack of need to learn Spanish. The Gringos it attracts want to live in Mexico without making any effort to speak of. And, of course, now there are great restaurants you won’t find much of anywhere else outside of Mexico City, and who would want to live in Mexico City, who in their right mind? Whoops.

      It is a picture-perfect manifestation of the phrase: A good place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there. At least I would not. It is quite pretty though.

      I cannot help but wonder what native San Miguel sorts — Mexicans — think of their town and what the outlanders have done to it.

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  4. I do not want to go to Gringolandia, no matter how good the food. And this is the LAST TIME I will ever come to the USA. What a hell hole this has turned into – arguments over ridiculous stuff on the radio — can a white person claim to be black? The free newspapers are full of discussions on the logistics of gay sex — available to any and all — whatever age – who happen to pick one up to check for a movie schedule. I will even sleep with the scorpions to get away from here, though I hope my husband is man enough to crush them to death.

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    1. Bonnie: So you’re still above the border?! I feel for you. Come on back, fer crissakes. As for never returning to the U.S., it looms as a real possibility for me too. My U.S. passport expires next year, and I toy with the notion of not renewing it, but I likely will though I’m not sure why. Habit, I guess. My Mexican one will get me anywhere I really want to go.

      But don’t you still live on the edge of Lake Chapala? Is there any huge difference between your area and San Miguel? Actually, of the two, I think I would prefer SMA. It’s just prettier.

      Funny you should mention that about a white woman claiming to be black. I know of that and I have a post almost written on that nutty case.

      And I’m positive your hubby would stomp a scorpion to save your hide. I had a boot on when I did it. Piece of cake.

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