I’m lost in the backstreets of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico…and it’s a good thing. I took a left at a hand-painted shrine to Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and strolled down a callejon so narrow I can almost reach out and touch the walls on both sides.
But emerging at the end, I found a lady selling fresh flowers; a bouquet of a dozen roses, thorns cut, for $2.10. And my new favorite taco shop is right across the street; a great snack of tacos al pastor for 50 cents each.
San Miguel never ceases to surprise. Although it’s a small city of around 125,000, the colonial centro is packed with history and fun…and it doesn’t always give up its secrets easily. I’m certainly still discovering new things to see and do, even after living here a year and a half.
As UNESCO World Heritage site, large or garish signage is not allowed. As a result every time you turn a corner or poke your head into a doorway, you never know what you might find. On one of my recent strolls around town, I cam across a simple, plain doorway that gave way to a vast interior courtyard, with potted plants, tinkling fountain, and restaurant tables. The perfect spot for a relaxing late breakfast for my wife and I.
Any type of cuisine you could want is here, from Turkish to sushi to gourmet Mexican. And meals rarely go above $10 for an entrée even at the nicest places. We go out to eat quite often, as a result. Something we rarely did in the U.S.
I recently discovered a favorite new café quite by accident. A small chalkboard sign on a doorway caught by eye. I passed through the office of a mail delivery company, then a restaurant…where another sign pointed me upstairs. They had the usual lattes and cappuccinos…but what makes it fun is that they play classic soul, funk, jazz, and other vinyl records. Often deep cuts I haven’t heard before. And the barista is always ready to talk music.
One of my favorite things about San Miguel is the climate. I’m from Florida and had lived previously on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. We’ve found relief from heat and humidity here in the mountains of the Colonial Highlands. Aside from some hot and cold spells it’s generally in the 70s F during the day, cooling off into the 50s F at night.
That allows you to be out and about year-round comfortably. And that’s a good thing with the amount things to do in town. As an arts hub since the 1950s, San Miguel continues this legacy with dozens of art galleries, live theater, dance, classical and jazz concerts, as well as live music every night of the week in bars and restaurants.
And the vibrant Mexican culture is very much here too, despite the influence of expats and the tourists. Street parties, parades, public concerts, and festivals seem to happen every week celebrating a religious holiday…or civic celebration. And expats are welcome to join in.