We had been warned. San Miguel de Allende, or SMA for short, was touristy. It was expensive. It had been overrun by gringos and ex-pats. We went anyway.
Like Patzcuaro, SMA ended up winning our hearts. Yep, it is indeed touristy. Yep, it is filled with ex-pats. And yet, this gorgeous city has never lost it’s charm. Wandering the narrow, winding streets, brought up comparisons to southern Europe for, indeed, SMA appears far more suited to be at home in Tuscany, or Provence, than it does in central Mexico. Studying the towns history, this shouldn’t be unexpected.
The historic center is filled with architecture from it’s early heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later, during the Spanish rule the city expanded and took on a more European feel. The first municipality to gain independence after the Mexican War on Independence, SMA very nearly became a ghost town.
Only after being “discovered” by foreign artists, did the rebirth begin.
Many are drawn to the weather. SMA regularly boasts an average of 72degrees year-round. The beauty of the area is stunning, with rolling hills following the Ruta de Vino and the Ruta del Conventos. As for the city itself. Here words fail me. It is surely an artists version of heaven, with a curving street plan, block after block lined with buildings in every color, arched doorways, elaborate ironwork, and a breathtaking variety of door knockers.
Once again, we were blessed with a campground within walking distance to the centro. Even better, we existed a mere one block from an artisan bakery to the left, and an artisan cheese shop to the right. Two blocks away was The Beer Company, a place we spent too much time, and too much money, during our time in the city.
We ate out far more often than is our norm; unable to pass up on such offerings as Indian, Falafel, and fresh cinnamon rolls. As our waistlines increased, we did take comfort in the fact that the simple act of remaining in one spot for some time allowed for tasks such as the much needed change-out of our failed airbag, deflated since long ago Baja.
We experienced the parades of the Aztec tribes during one of the most exuberant (read as LOUD) marches in history. Aspen was beyond terrified,and while I loved the spectacle of it, along with the amazing costumes, I was happy to join her a block or two away where the noise was only partially deafening.
We embraced the festive Saturday market, buying up far too many tasty veggies, as I am never able to leave a market without a full bag.
One of our favorite parts of SMA was that we FINALLY got to, once again, camp with some other overlanders! It has been a lonely path through the hills of Mexico this last month, but that all changed here. We spent a long, rum filled, evening playing cards and talking with Chris & Sarah, from Switzerland. Driving an uber-cool renovated emergency vehicle, they were a delightful couple to spend time with, even though we believe they are crazy for driving through all of Mexico in only three weeks!
Ian & Penny arrived next. We had actually seen their grand, pop-top, unimog in storage at Roca Azul on Lake Chapala. Imagine our surprise to see it pull into camp. Hailing from Australia, they are great fun and we enjoyed having them join us a couple of weeks later in Guanajuato. Sadly (for us.. not them!), they are now at a gorgeous house sit so we may not see them again for a bit.
And finally, Cam & Diana popped into camp, for a too short stop. Cam is from Australia, Diana from Columbia, and their van is from Canada, nothing surprising in the realm of international living. We loved our brief time with them, before they raced away on the path south.
Our 2-3 day plan for SMA morphed into a week, then 10 days. Finally, we did bid the city a fond farewell and headed on our way. Thanks for the hospitality, SMA, we loved you.