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Steve A

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Trip report: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

by Steve A » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:59 pm

On the urging of friends who live there, Barbara and I decided to spend our annual, all too short vacation In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in mid-May of this year.

The Place

San Miguel is located in high desert country, about 3.5 hours northwest of Mexico City. The climate is pretty dang near perfect, a lot like San Diego. Dry, warm sunny days with cool nights. Though we were there at the beginning of their rainy season, outside of a couple of storms the weather was indeed great. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, no doubt recognized for its beautiful colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. We found plenty to do and see, from historical sites to open air markets, along with the random siesta.

The People

With a population north of 100,000, the place is crawling with Mexicans!! All shapes, colors and sizes of 'em. And to a person, even though we only speak un poquito Spanish, never did we feel anything besides welcome in their country. We didn't have a car, but NEVER felt anything but safe walking the streets day or night. The kids down there tend to be free range, and could be seen playing(!) in public(!) with no apparent adult supervision(!!!) - and yet, they seem to thrive and live to adulthood in this atmosphere.

On the other hand, representing at least 5% of the population, San Miguel is also crawling with United States Americans. It seems that this started after WWII, with returning veterans seeing the opportunity to live in a laid back place that was easy on the budget. Over the years this has evolved into a mixture of somewhat bohemian Norte Americanos integrating into the community in the same city as expats who take advantage of the cheap cost of living, but are happy to live in gated communities with other expats. It takes all kinds, I guess.

The Water

Don't drink it, at least not out of the tap. The casita we rented for the week had bottled water for drinking and tooth brushing, and we were strongly discouraged from swallowing water while taking our showers. It turns out there are microbes in there that our sensitive gringo tummies aren't used to, though the locals don't generally drink water out of the tap, either.

Wine is mostly imported and is expensive, so besides bottled water we drank beer. I also had my fill of Mexican Coke, or what the locals call "Coke".

The Food

And if you know us, you'll know this is what we really looked forward to. Mexican cuisine, at least in San Miguel, is varied. Though they offer dishes we recognized like tamales, tacos, empenadas and enchiladas, occasionally we'd get a bit more adventurous and try an unfamiliar menu item that looked interesting. One of these was a beef dish with beans in a light tomato-y broth. To my taste, dishes ran a bit more mild and contained more vegetables than the Tex-Mex we've found around Louisville. We dined on street food and at family-run as well as higher end restaurants. It was all good.

We enjoyed bread and other baked goods from a shop that could give Blue Dog a run for their money.

One thing we noticed by their absence is the lack of chain restaurants.Though you can find pizza and burger joints, they're all local. The only chain that has has managed to weasel its way into the town is starbucks,and word has it they were met with quite a bit of resistance.

Keep in mind that restaurants there aren't inspected by the government, so you need to be careful where and what you eat. It helps that you can find online reputations for most places, along with recommendations from folks who live there. As careful as we were, I still managed to contract a stomach bug at the end of our trip. Quite frankly, it made me appreciate living in a place where our government watches out for food and water safety.

All said, we'd go back in a heartbeat!
"It ain't a matter of pork 'n beans that's gonna justify your soul
Just don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll."
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Robin Garr

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Re: Trip report: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

by Robin Garr » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:06 am

Splendid report, Steve. Thanks! And glad you all had a good time!

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