Journey Jotters

Bitten by the travel bug

Rest assured, this post on San Miguel de Allende (SMA) will be an enormous surprise. This town is one of the most famous among American expats and in fact, was one of the first inspirations for a Mexico trip. This city is already well captured on digital ink by numerous bloggers, journalists, and authors. I couldn’t have done further justice with a short post.

Historic San Miguel de Allende architecture

While we wanted to spend a day here, the only way we could fit into the itinerary was an overnight after the Tequisquiapan journey. The plan was to reach SMA by dinner time, refresh, and set out to eat and explore the city. Then Uriel would pick us up the next morning and take us to Guanajuato for our last day in Mexico.

The drive from Tequis northwest to SMA is just under 2 hours. And Uriel got us there just around 730 pm. At first, we searched a little for the Airbnb room we had booked. As we got close to it, Uriel became a bit concerned. It was a private room in a corner house on an intersection. The owner was a pleasant young man. He let us into the house and ensured all was in place for us.

A single room with a door that partitioned it from the rest of the house, it had an en suite bath. The concern was that the area was a 15-minute ride from the city center. Public transportation was available but we had to walk to access it. The streets were dark and there were many dogs on the road snarling, barking, and fighting often. Also, the area seemed to attract huge trucks and we could hear them driving past. The main access door gave onto the street. So we didn’t have many layers of safety. The whole area felt a bit rough.

Uriel cautioned us against venturing out that night for dinner. And once we heard the commotion on the street from the dogs and trucks, we agreed with him. We debated about moving to a hotel but that would mean locating one, settling in and thus delaying our evening. In addition, Uriel had decided to drive home to Queretaro and return the next morning, so we did not feel like asking him for another trip into town.

The room itself was simple and adequate. There was a couple of fruits and a few snacks laid out. We were grumpy from hunger and the long day out, concerned for our safety and just plain annoyed with each other. After sharing the meager rations we had, we went to bed. But sleep eluded me far into the night as I kept a sharp tab on all the ambient noises. Eventually, I fell asleep and woke to a fresh morning. I suppose I haven’t welcomed a daybreak as much as I did then. The bathroom was adequate but only one person could use it at a time.

Not surprisingly, we were all packed and ready to hit the road the minute Uriel returned that morning. Boy, were we glad to see him! In all the confusion of the evening, I did not stop to take any photos of the room. But there are several on the attached website that are accurate.

We had missed an opportunity to explore SMA and were short on time. So Uriel took us to Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, which is the iconic church in all SMA photos. Located in the historic center of SMA and across from the Jardin Allende, the church was resplendent in pink as the morning sun rose slowly. The intricate work on the church facade and towers was worth admiring. While Uriel parked the car, we enjoyed the church architecture and then walked in the shade of the garden in the center of the plaza. With shady laurel trees on all sides, wide walkways and many well-placed wrought iron benches, it was very inviting in the fresh morning air. There were some people about, many young girls with fresh flower headbands but mostly we had the place to ourselves.

Floral headbands worn by young girls

The historic center has many homes from two or three centuries ago and is mostly maintained in its original state. The streets are narrow and winding at times. They follow the topography of the land and go up and down, making it fun to explore and a good exercise for visitors. This area is a UNESCO heritage site.

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel
Closer details of the architecture
Jardin Allende

Once Uriel got back, we headed to Los Milagros across the plaza for a hearty breakfast and enjoyed live music as well. Well sated, we headed out on a short but brisk walk to the car. Uriel told us that he had talked to a fellow guide who lived in SMA and she had shared Uriel’s reservations about the area of our Airbnb room. I am still undecided if we were merely scared after listening to his observations (and he struck us as an astute judge of situations and people). Or whether the area was truly scary. The truth lay, probably, in between. I think we will be certain to vet future rentals more stringently.

Cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende
Architecture abounds in San Miguel de Allende historic center

SMA’s historic zone was a delight to walk in. Filled with a variety of architecture and color, the winding streets made it difficult to stay focused on the road ahead. Instead, our eyes were drawn again and again to homes and businesses with unique facades. No cookie-cutter houses here!

Winding streets of San Miguel de Allende

Our trip to San Miguel de Allende was a far cry from what most people experience. But I wasn’t sorry that we hadn’t spent that much time there. Mexico has too many places to see and too many things to do. We will just have to return another time to explore this city.

Meanwhile happy and safe armchair travels!!

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