Thursday, February 11, 2010

San Miguel de Allende

Had no trouble finding our little campsite hidden behind a lovely brick wall on the Callejon de San Antonio. We set up the awning to protect us from the impending rain and set off to surprise Nana & Pops. We stopped at a packed taco stand on the way where we scarfed back some amazing, spicy pork with salsa verde. The kids were obviously enjoying being back in San Miguel, on somewhat familiar terrain and were beyond excited when they ran up to knock on Nana & Pops's door. The delight on the faces that greeted us when it opened was priceless. We went out for a lovely lunch together. Wil and I faded into the background as the kids and grandparents basked in each others' company. We took a lovely walk through the town, kids and grandparents holding on to each other very tight, the sidewalks narrow and high, paved with pink blocks, the roads set with stones. The proportions of San Miguel are so human, narrow streets, narrow sidewalks, low buildings painted in rich hues, massive carved doors that hide perfect inner courtyards. We ended up at the town market where we picked up some paper play pesos and some vintage bingo cards. The market is so much more North American that anything we've seen. The stallkeepers have apparently learned that Americans don't respond well to the hard sell, nor do they mind paying more for the right to shop without pressure. The stalls were so spaced out and well-lit, the shopkeepers so passive and silent. We said goodbye after the market, heading back to the campsite to set up the beds before heading back to meet them for dinner. To Hacienda de las flores for cocktail hour and to catch up with the very kind circle of friends they socialize with every year. Dinner was yummy, the kids lovin' their fish & chips, the grown-ups diggin' the margaritas. Back to the camp and our warm beds.

Thunder and lightning started an impressive rainstorm in the night. People in the campsite scrambled to repair leaks the next morning as we set off to meet my folks. They took us to the Fabrica Aurora, an gorgeous old textile mill that has been converted into studio spaces and art galleries. Lots of leche-vitrine later, we had lunch in the central courtyard, all huddled around a propane heater in the wet and the cold. After the fabrica, the abuelos went home for some quiet time while we headed off the Tianguis market which only happens on Tuesday. The pouring rain added another dimension to the market experience. We followed our noses to a churros stand where we watched a lady pull the long donuts out of the oil and roll them around in a big bowl of sugar. The freshest and yummiest ones yet. The market was a series of colourful tarps stretched over three massive levels of stalls. The tarps hung heavily with water. The sticks the stallkeepers normally use to take clothes down off the high racks were now being used to flush the water from the tarps. There were so many tarps, all at different heights, that it was a bit of a guessing game as to where the water would go, on to the neighbouring stall's tarp, safely on to the ground, or onto some poor, unfortunate shopper. We picked up a lime press and some dry socks. Henri bought a DVD of Planet 51 for 20 pesos, which the salesman assured him had the English soundtrack. Back to the dry van in our soaking clothes, the kids watched a very shaky, grainy Planet 51 in Spanish, a copy obviously made by someone using a crappy videocam held fairly steady through a viewing at a movie theatre. They were so starved for television that they didn't even think to complain.

Another lovely dinner with my parents, getting our fill of American food before we launch back into Mexico. The abundance of green salads a welcome break from the carnivore's delight that is Mexican food. The rain did not stop. A town that is used to absorbing perhaps an hour a day during the rainy season is positively drowning. San Miguel, which struggles with water shortages, has roads that are not equipped with drains. The steep pitches funnel water into each other turning every second corner into a raging river. Add to this the fact that every building has a pipe which clears the rooftop terrace of water onto the sidewalk. Each pipe is a different length which makes walking an exercise in dodging either ankle-deep puddles or spine-chilling downpours. Thankfully the incredibly courteous drivers slow down to avoid further soaking the pedestrians.

After another night of rain, we abandoned the idea of seeing anything more of San Miguel. We turned up at my parents' right after breakfast looking like wet rats, with a selection of movies, a pile of schoolwork and a bag of wet clothes to string up in their room in hand. Their friend Alisone very kindly offered up her livingroom for homework, Mom manned the heater, rotating socks and shoes and hats and coats. When homework was done, Dad kept the kids company in movie land while Wil and I limped back to the campsite to sort out some laundry and lunch. By the time dinner came along, Mom & Wil had managed to get everything dry enough to put on again, only to get most of it completely drenched on the two-minute walk to the restaurant. Ceviche, shark tacos chiles en nogado, mouth-watering arrachera and, of course, more margaritas. We were all a bit weepy during dinner, sensing that the love fest was nearing its end. We said goodbye before trudging off to find a taxi. The girls and I cried all the way home, the sweet taxista tried consoling us by saying what a "buen sentimiento" it was to be sad to say goodbye to one's parents. Reflecting the mood, the rain continued all through the night and we awoke to even more. We packed up and headed off for a quick oil change and hit the road for Patzcuaro. Guanajuato will just have to wait for better weather. There's nothing better to do today than drive. Hopefully by tomorrow, the weather will clear enough for us to enjoy the sights of Patzcuaro.

1 comment:

Jenny Wren said...

Wonderful to be able to read all your extraordinary adventures. I can see a book in the making - colorful descriptions, photos and recipes. I am sitting here reading this, drinking a glass of wine and wondering what I will have for supper! Love to all.xx