Tomorrow we have to leave our August home. We knew before we got here we would love it. Friends who have been before us told us so. One of our East Tennessee friends calls San Miguel the Asheville (NC) of Mexico. If you are from them thar hills, you recognize that’s very high praise indeed.
We weren’t disappointed. The city exceeded the hype. Joy and I voted the people’s friendliness as San Miguel’s top virtue. In spite of the spoken language barrier, which is actually not a barrier if you don’t mind making a fool of yourself with creative hand gestures and body language, these kind Mexicans have treated us with patience, tolerance, and genuine good will. That’s true of the gringos in the place, also.
We didn’t know about the rainy season (a little more research would have been in order), but we soon found ourselves looking forward as the world got scrubbed late in the afternoon. Sometimes the scrubbing lasted most of the night, but mornings were clear and clean. Days were moderately warm (high in the upper 70s to low 80s); nights cooled to the comfortable 50s. At 7,000 feet, San Miguel offers all the meteorological variety you could hope for: sunshine, breezes (OK, sometimes wind), hot, cool, rain, more rain, a generous modicum of lightening and thunder.
We didn’t get to do everything we wanted. We passed on using the city buses, for example, thanks again to our uncertain mastery (make that our certain unmastery) of Spanish, but we compensated by tramping over the uneven roads and walkways,hailing the inexpensive taxis and Ubers (the Uber option was introduced to the town at about the same time we arrived), and, as noted in an earlier post, getting acquainted with the helpful residents who gladly “rescued the perishing.”
What else did we like? The food. In America Mexican cuisine has long been among our favorites. Here we couldn’t get enough of it. We’re grateful not to have any scales with us to prove how much we have enjoyed it. I suppose you would expect me to say this: we like the churches, from
the famous Parroquia De San Miguel Arcángel in the center of town
to the many neighborhood churches like our Parroquia de San Antonio de Padua
and not far from us the Anglican Church of St. Paul (Iglesia Anglicana de San Pablo)—and there are many more. .
Their presence is not only visual. It’s audible.
Throughout the day and too early in the morning their bells are pealing, and they are close enough to each other that they raise a great cacophony of praise. Religion is not an afterthought in this town.
And you may be surprised when I add, especially if you’ve read some of my previous posts,
the sidewalks–the uneven, unpredictable, unsafe, uninviting constructions you get when you let each resident be lord over the walkway in front of his domicile without regard to harmonious joinings or matched abutments.
I have never paid such particular attention to what my feet were doing when I’ve been out for a walk. You look at the sites only at your peril. You ignore these sidewalks and you pay the price; they demand your undivided attention. And they get it. They make the smooth concrete paths back in the States seem rather incidental things, a mere means of getting from here to there. In San Miguel, you pay the homage due to something that can do you damage if you are disrespectful.
As an artist Joy found a second home in San Miguel. She has had to put aside her favorite medium, encaustics (painting with hot wax), for a more portable one, painting with cold wax. She hasn’t been any less disciplined with this one, though and has turned out some quality work.
I suspect (“Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise,” as they say where we come from) another visit to this extraordinary place is in the offing. We came because it was on our bucket list. We checked it off. I notice it’s right back on the list, awaiting our return.