Summer in San Miguel de Allende

Summer in San Miguel de Allende

After my drive across America following the Lewis and Clark Trail I was looking for a new place to hang out and see if it was “the place”. I am always looking for that mythical, elusive perfect place to live and several friends had moved to San Miguel de Allende and all extolled the virtues of this Mexican hill town….I thought it might be nirvana, so off I go.

The square around the Jardin

The square around the Jardin

San Miguel de Allende is one of the old colonial silver mining towns located north of Mexico City in what is called the Central Highlands. Several regional airports serve the towns of the Central Highlands….Leon and Queretaro…they both offer service from the US. Si flew into Leon via Dallas and once there it was easy to take a shuttle service over to San Miguel de Allende That had been arrainged by my friend Linda Rose.

17th Century Baroque Churches dot the city.

17th Century Baroque Churches dot the city.

San Miguel is a gem of colonial architecture and the town has been attracting expats since Sterling Dickinson, a wealthy American artist, arrived in the late 1930’s and opened an art school. After WW ll the town attracted those expats who wanted to live cheaply and study on the GI Bill.  San Miguel was in danger of becoming a ghost town before Sterling Dickinson started to rescue homes and notable buildings. Soon after, other wealthy expats came and the revival was off and running. Today this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Mexico.

The Jardin Principal

The Jardin Principal

You always see San Miguel as “a colorful colonial town” and that is true as far as it goes,  but the palatte is limited…sienna, yellow ochre, burnt umber are the primary colors one sees on the buildings of the old colonial buildings located in El Centro. This dull palate is broken up with the riotous colors of the bougainvillea, pots filled with geraniums and the purple blooms of the jacaranda trees.  Every where I walked small flower filled courtyards with slowly dripping centuries old fountains invited me in. Plenty of small cafe’s in these courtyards offered a good excuse to spend a hour or two reading, relaxing or meeting people for conversation. 

The town is mostly 17th and 18th century and the stone paved streets roll up and down the hills upon which it is built.  At 1,900 m (6,200 f) the altitude is not for everyone…myself included. When I lived in Cuenca, Ecuador the altitude which is a third higher really killed me but I thought San Miguel being lower would be doable. NOT…I was still gasping for air as I hiked the streets and hills of the town. Damn, there goes my dream of this being “the place”. Aside from the altitude the cobblestone streets and high curbs can be difficult to negotiate.  Those cobblestones look great in the travel guide pictures but strolling around in your flip flops is going to lead to trouble.

Summer in San Miguel de Allende

The cobblestone streets of San Miguel

The heart of the town is the Jardin Principal or the main garden. Of course everyone calls it “the Jardin” and expat or native, young or old, resident or tourist…everyone winds up here at some point to sit on a bench under the topiary Ficus trees and watch life unfold while avoiding the noonday sun.. I will be the first to tell you, watching life unfold is easier with a luscious ice-cream cone in ones hand.  The beautiful old square surrounded by 17th century buildings also houses the church called Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel.

Summer in San Miguel de Allende

The Parroquia

What comes to most peoples minds when they think of San Miguel is the Parroquia. It is what graces every postcard and every travel poster for San Miguel. The steeple is lit at night and can be seen from almost every neighborhood in town.  A new gothic facade, added to a 17th century church in the 1880’s, is modeled after Gaudi’s church – Sagada Familia in Barcelona. It is a confection piece that everyone ogles but the interior is lackluster compared to the exterior.

My Little Garden

My Little Garden

My friend Linda Rose went on the hunt for a place for me to live even before I arrived. It was great having a friend who knew the city to do the leg work. Talk about painless…a nice little apartment with a lush garden just out of El Centro was waiting for me the day I arrived.  Sometimes it just all works out.

About Larry Bosco

In 2010 I had one of those “Is this all there is” moments and so in January 2011 I retired from Real Estate Appraising, sold off all my worldly goods and headed out as a solo traveler in search of a new place to live. Since then I’ve traveled around the world, made new friends and had many great adventures and some not so great. After staying almost a year in Cuenca, Ecuador I have headed back to South East Asia where I began the journey in 2011. Currently I am living in Chiang Mai, Thailand
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10 Responses to Summer in San Miguel de Allende

  1. It is great to finally see some pictures of San Miguel. It looks so quaint. Glad to see that you are blogging again. I hope to hear soon about Russia and Turkey with pictures! Adios!

  2. Paula Wong says:

    Great post, Larry! Thanks to you, I am here now and loving it.

  3. LindaRose says:

    The fotos are beautiful and the text is informing, but that chic, LindaRose is something else!
    Well done, amigito….

  4. David Donaldson says:

    Larry; Just read your laters travel log. As it happens, I am currently in Cape Town, and while you’ve already explored many places, Cape town might be your answer. Modern city with a mixture of colonial; . lovely surroundings; reasonable cost of living, and, best of all, English is the language of choice.
    Of course, it’s a bit if a distance from USA, but then, so was Thailand!
    I’ll be returning to Albuquerque on November 6th, but I’d seriously consider spending some time here.
    David Donaldson

  5. Stefanie says:

    This made me miss San Miguel! Definitely could spend a few months there each year. And I have to agree, that LindaRose is something else! :)

  6. I have had a place in San Miguel since the mid 90’s. It is a magical place.
    I hope to meet you this winter.

    • Larry Bosco says:

      Jacque, Sorry to say I have moved on. I am in Antalya, Turkey for the next couple of weeks but then fly to Kuala Lumpur. We will see each other somewhere on life’s highway…perhaps Louisville.

  7. Frank Perrone says:

    Hi Larry, Thanks for wonderful photos and all. Good to hear from you. yes, watch the flip flops. Recently had (and still have) heel problems. My podiatrist said to stay away from flat shoes and beer!

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