I always encourage guests to go to the Tuesday Market (La Placita). Why? Because this ambulatory extravaganza is, according to our own word-famous San Miguel de Allende map, “a raucous and wonderful weekly festival.”
Posts from the ‘san miguel de allende’ Category
It’s All About the Egg.
(The Prequel to The Casita Story)
I wrote this nearly a decade ago, just four months before finding the house (and immense project) that would keep me very, very busy and eventually become Casita de las Flores…I hope this little blog provides encouragement to those who dream about turning over a new tree. (Do it!!)
I’m sitting in the hammock listening to the birds.
So many birds.
I’ve never lived in the country before, so I really had no idea about the birds. Watching a woodpecker peck (first time I’ve seen one outside of Woody in the cartoons). Feeling a dreamy, lethargic peace at 3:25 on a warm but overcast silent saturday afternoon. Thinking (not too hard) of what I really should be doing, other than sitting in the hammock, listening to the birds, watching the woodpecker peck.
I’m a world away from my life in the US, where, on the rare occasion that I couldn’t think of what I should be doing, my impatient mind immediately and urgently intruded to suggest the next vitally important task—one in a long, long list of vitally important tasks to be done.
But here in my rented yard outside of San Miguel, my mind simply wanders over my rather lazy day.
My mother claims that, if you’re lucky, you can accomplish one real thing a day in Mexico. I’ve proved her wrong a thousand or so times already, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes it’s actually good for you to accomplish only one thing in a day.
This morning, I continued the house search. Went and looked at a tiny, extremely funky house for sale, for which the owners had decided on a firm, absurdly high price—despite having no idea of the place’s square footage, and despite the fact that the “house” is in need of tons (of tons) of work…stucco on the walls, for starters.
There. That’s one (attempt at) productive activity. Ah, yes…I also got an email from a friend I haven’t connected with since I left the States six months ago.
Six months. Half a year of a new life.
“Aha,” comes a quiet voice through the languid afternoon haze. “Write,” it says. So here I am, on the page. (Well, on the laptop, in the hammock.)
I admit, I’ve been having guilty type-A thoughts lately—I haven’t been doing enough. I’ve been “wasting time.” Nearly six months of time! What will become of me??!! Ack.
But then my friend in the States writes about how great my life seems—having the time to do the things I love—painting, photography, gardening, writing, yoga, dancing, hammock roosting.
Suddenly, even though I am lazing in the garden, I feel as if my life is, actually, productive. Every now and then, life should simply be about living.
Yes, of course, I am a bit poor, financially speaking (except for my tiny nest egg). And I have no real prospects (yet). But my life is rich, isn’t it?
Rich in butterflies (plenty of the stomach kind, but mostly the insect kind): Small black flutterers with cobalt and crimson spots gleaming in the sun. A few huge white lovelies sailing calmly by, and the occasional stately orange and black Monarch.
Rich in flora: Nasturtium, spinach, and forget-me-not seedlings standing as tall as they can, just a few days out of the earth. (Am I, perhaps, a seedling, just six months out of new earth?)
A miniature broccoli forest coming up. Infant zucchini boldly protruding from under wide, variegated, sun-catching leaves. Tomato plants freely offering up the pointy yellow flowers that portend juicy red fruit. Cheeky little adolescent lettuces. (There is so much hope and bravery in a new garden, not to mention many happy salads to come.)
Rich in feathered friends: Noisy, rat-tat-tat woodpeckers. Mournful doves mooning about. Haughty orange orioles lounging in the branches. Huge bickering blackbirds squabbling on the ground. Tiny, blindingly scarlet birdlets lingering in the purple Jacaranda blooms. And of course, many busy little jewel-colored hummingbirds zooming from blossom to blossom.
Perhaps I was a hummingbird in my first-world life? Not jewel-colored, so much as pale beige, but buzzing frenetically from duty to duty…
Maybe. But now what am I? Not a seedling, not a hummingbird. A hen, perhaps. (Colorful now—yes!) Sitting—roosting on my little egg of potential, my potential egg—doing apparently nothing, but thinking, dreaming, and scheming, waiting for my future to hatch.
Unemployed, yes. Poor-ish, yes. But I am so very rich in one of the great bounties Mexico has to offer: Time.
Time to play at painting the Virgen de Guadalupe. Time to tinker on the guitar (I can now play Greensleeves—if I had a phone, Carnegie Hall would SO be calling). Time for the joys of photography (which literally means “writing with light”). And, most of all, time to write (with light, ink or pixels). To muse, to jot, to scribble. Attempting to get to know myself and my newish surroundings though black marks on a white page/screen.
My doubts seem to dissolve, and, for once (or twice), I actually know I am doing fine.
Sure, I have no foreseeable way to make a living in Mexico (to be “secure”), but I am fine. Really fine. Finer than frog hair, as my father always says. (It took me almost twenty years of hearing that expression before I got it—“Wait,” she finally says to herself, “Frogs don’t have hair…ohhhh.”) And so, despite my lack of the career-building activities most people in my former Stateside life deem to be essential to a sense of self, my self seems to be fine. Finer than…iguana hair.
Six months into this Mexican adventure of indeterminate length, I sit and look back. Not literally back at the towering Mesquite tree that supports the north end of my hammock, but back at the months of stress and preparation for leaving my conventional life up North, half a year ago:
Quit job. Finish thesis. Jump through all the right hoops to graduate. Sort through 20 or so years of accumulated stuff (the pack rat’s instant karma). Have two massive garage sales and still give a driveway full of stuff to a charitable organization. Fall in love at the last-possible, most-insane minute, and leave man and town and country behind anyway, because it had to be done (because it was my future, my egg).
Drive 2000 miles in a car filled to the gills with Mom, pets and my carefully-packed belongings (60% books)—still, somehow, so very much stuff.
Arrive at new, Mexican home. Unpack, organize, play house and play in the garden. Survive while distance smothers a fledgling relationship. Live in near-total isolation for four months while trying to find a foothold in what was once, long ago, Home—the place I grew up. Get to know (again) the town, the language, the lifestyle, and the birds. And then, finally, blossom once again into the world of humankind.
So very much can happen in six short months.
Did I make the right decision? To leave almost everything (material) behind for a brave/insane new adventure in a foreign country? Definitely. (I mostly think.) Of course, it has been very difficult, at times, to have sacrificed security and a nice, reliable paycheck for the unknown. But the benefits are manifold, not the least of which is the time to simply sit in the hammock and think. And tend to my egg.
Ten Year Check-In, May, 2011
Forgot how to play Greensleves on the guitar, but learned how to play it on the Piano. Not painting at the moment, but still crazy in love with photography. Accomplish a multitude of tasks on most days, but still spend the occasional lazy Saturday pondering in my new hammock in my new garden. (And even manage to write now and then.)
What I didn’t know then was that Casita de las Flores, which turns ten next year (!), would change my life in so many ways: providing me with a life-sized art project, meaningful work, lots of new friends, and even a decent income, eventually.
Best of all, a decade later, I am still rich—not so much in money, though I am a wee bit more secure—but in time (and birds and butterflies and seedlings). Yet, I find I’m roosting yet again, sitting on that good old future egg, wondering what comes next.
Here’s to you, adventurers—don’t let the unknown keep you down. And take really good care of that egg.
Wishing you love and lots of great eggs,
Casita de las Flores
“ Look, no matter what you hear, the U.S. has not warned citizens to stay out of Mexico.
The State Department warning says to stay out of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango -- particularly Juarez."
According to journeyetc.com, San Miguel is up there with the likes of Berlin, Florence and Paris, artistically speaking. “If you yourself want to make art instead of viewing the artworks, go to San Miguel de Allende. This little town still brandishing its colonial architecture is the best place to go to in order to practice one’s craft. San Miguel de Allende’s artistry is high enough to be compared to Florence,” they write.
And of course, they point out that visiting a haven for art and artists, such as San Miguel de Allende, is good for you:
“Working and doing the same things over and over can be such a chore. Sometimes the work that we do mold us in ways that we don’t expect and at times surprise us because of the changes they seem to inculcate. When these things happen and you feel stranger and stranger as the days go on, the perfect solution is almost, always a vacation.
“Not all escapes are healthy though. It really depends if the place you are going to totally renews your interest in certain elements of your daily life. A perfect vacation or more specifically, a journey, should be able to help you re-engage with wonder and help you re-engage the world in a renewed manner. What is the perfect way to do this but an immersion in the arts?
“Exposure to what is beautiful, to geometric and mind labored shapes, to beautiful music that becomes grander and grander in scale as the orchestra plays it, can dramatically sharpen our senses and our sensual intelligence and sensitivity. If you want to go and get lost in art, here are some key cities you will find which will help you reacquire a vision for your life.”
Of course, they forgot to mention that San Miguel is so much more relaxed and personable than those big hectic cities.
Well, we already knew San Miguel was eye candy central, didn’t we? So get down here and soak up some culture. Take some art classes. (see our local resources page for more info on classes and teachers). Create your own work of art. Find yourself. Relax and have fun!
To read the whole article, click here.
Casita de las Flores
Your everlovin,’ artsy fartsy San Miguel B & K*—affordable, comfy and friendly.
*(Bed and kitchen)
For the hip, there are two places to be in San Miguel on Locos Sunday: in the parade or watching it. If you’re in the milling mile or so of costumed revelers and flatbed floats with blaring, competing soundtracks, you dance across town all morning and into the afternoon. Of course, in your foam and felt frog/fat lady/ex-president costume, there is a risk of heat exhaustion. But, you get to pelt spectators with candy, which makes it all worthwhile.
As 2009 draws to a close, we’d like to give thanks to all of the wonderful people who’ve come to stay with us over the last seven years. Mil gracias for your company and your support. We hope you’ll all be back.
It’s been a slow year, tourism-wise. (Of course, we’ve been busy fixing up the place, revamping the website, and even getting on FaceBook.) Based on advanced reservations for winter and early spring, the general situation seems likely to improve in 2010. Yay! (So book early!)
Let’s hope things get better for everyone who’s suffering economic hardship right now.
December in San Miguel is yet another month of fiestas. December 12 was the day of the virgen (the Empress of Mexico, in case you didn’t know). It’s a day and night of altars, neighborhood processions and parties, and yet another night of cuetes (monster bottlerockets, set off all night long, and culminating in a dawn crescendo. Sleep is overrated.)
Then there are the late-December Posadas, neighborhood open houses with candles and altars, and pilgrims aplenty going ’round asking for room at the inn (and getting ponche and other goodies, if not a bed). Don’t forget midnight mass. Christmas is a really big deal in Catholic Mexico, of course.
Then, there’s New Year’s Eve—it’s literally a blast in San Miguel. Apart from private and public parties and dinners and such (with the good-luck ritual of eating one grape for every midnight chime of the clock), there’s the public blow-out in the jardin, or main plaza.
We look forward to this night every year. Nearly everyone in town—young and old, rich and poor, locals, expats and visitors alike—gathers in the jardin for live music and dancing, funny hats, and even a bit of drinking.
At midnight, there’s a big fireworks display, and castillos are lit (large firework-encrusted structures that whiz and hum and pop and eventually burn up, sending out light, sparks and clouds of joyful smoke, as well as shooting flaming spinning projectiles into space, to much clapping).
Other festive fire hazards include gorgeous three-foot long sparklers waving everywhere. (But really, it’s quite safe, very fun, and very Mexico.) The dancing and drinking goes on ’til quite early in the new year. Eventually we all stumble home, usually singing, to sleep it off.
What could be better than a huge, loud, jovial, communal celebration of the new year, a new beginning? (Especially with sparklers and funny hats—it just doesn’t get any better than that.)
No invitation required—just get there well before the witching hour to stake out a spot to see and be the show (comfortable shoes and a warm coat are essential, says me.)
And, after that spectacular night, we begin looking forward to Spring, which starts in February here, thank you very much. The weather has now gotten chilly at night and in the morning, but we still have warm sun most every day. (The nearby hot springs are fab on winter mornings!) We know we really can’t complain about the climate here, but we still can’t wait for primavera.
Casita de las Flores wishes you all the happiest of holidays, filled with peace, warmth, joy, love, and maybe even a couple of nice presents. And a new year overflowing with prosperity and cool travel plans.
ho ho ho,
Casita de las Flores B&K (Bed and Kitchen)
—Your best value (and most fun) alternative to
expensive San Miguel de Allende hotels and B&B’s
PS. See you soon…