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San Miguel de Allende Revisited
Most years when Jeanette and I go down to San Miguel de Allende, we elect to make the trip in August. Florida, where we live, in August is not at its best. The humidity can be daunting and we are subject to seasonally aggressive winds. So, we try to get away if possible.
The first year we went to SMA, we were making our arrangements in May to rent a home in August. At the time the temperature in SMA was in the low 90°s F. As I ended our phone conversation with the real estate agent, as the phone clicked off, I suddenly thought to myself,
“Air conditioning? I didn’t ask if it was air-conditioned. I had better check that out.”
I had lived for many years in Phoenix, Arizona where August is over 110°F every day and I had been to northern Mexico in the summer and it was just as hot. I could just imagine how it would be in San Miguel de Allende. So I called back and I was told,
“Air conditioned? No, nothing is air-conditioned in San Miguel.”
What? If it is 90°F in mid May what is it like in August?”
“Oh, do not worry Señor. May is the hottest month of the year in San Miguel. August is nice, but not hot.”
Now I did not beleave that for a minute. Concerned, I went on-line and looked up the climate for San Miguel. You know what? May is the hottest month of the year! Don’t know why but August rarely gets above 84° F and often has afternoon showers, which cools it off even more.
So we normally go in August, but not always. Today we will talk about the time we went at Easter.
Friends of ours, Mr. and Mrs. D invited us to come down and stay with them in a house they rented in the area known as Los Balconies. This is a very steep neighborhood overlooking the town which sprawls out below.
In this picture you can see the town fading into the distance. I am sitting , soaking up the sun. I had done something to my back and I could hardly move. The sun helped. I complained to Mr. D about my back and he suggested I go see Cielo.
” Who or what is Cielo?”
” Oh she runs a pharmacy downtown. Go see her. She’ll help you”
I made my way down the steep and narrow streets to the center of town. Someone directed me to this little corner pharmacy which Cielo owns. It seems everyone knows Cielo. She is an institution. I asked for Cielo and a diminutive woman, probably in her 80’s, came out from the back. I told her of my back issue. She said,
“Come back here. Lower your pantalones. I will give you a shot. Come back tomorrow for a shot and again the day after. $100, por favor.”
Almost immediately she produced a needle and gave me a shot in the hip. I came back the next two days for the shots. Whatever it was, I do not know. But it worked. I was not bothered again. A little different from our system in the US.
The road past Mr. and Mrs. D’s house was on the top af a plateau and it led to the Area de Reserva Ecológica, El Charco del Ingenio, or Botanical Garden. This area has wonderful varieties of cactus and an impressive stone grotto that backs up to a reservoir. I do not know, but in times past I think this may have been a quarry. Much of San Miguel is built of stone.
Easter Sunday we walked out into the Botanical Garden to attend a concert put on by some of the town’s young people. The audience seated themselves around and above the singers on the rock cliffs. The singers stood as a group and performed as the sun was low in the sky. It was magical.
Of course the most entertaining of the Easter rituals was the extinguishing of evil forces or spirits, effigies of various “no goods”. Here you can see them hung over the main street at the Jardin, the plaza in the center of town. If you look closely about the third from the right is a witch. One of the effigies is of Judas, others are politicians out of favor, still others represent vices like greed and gluttony.
These effigies are filled with fire crackers. Circling their waists is a band that holds rockets. As the fun begins, the rockets on one of the effigies are ignited and the figure spins around like a whirling dervish and then suddenly with a load BANG explodes into a shower of confetti like pieces of paper and a cloud of white smoke. The crowd gives a roar of a cheer. And the process continues. It does get a bit redundant as it goes on for a long time. However, it is festive and fun and not something you see just anyplace.
In this picture just to the left of the lamp-post and above the person in the blue shirt you can see the white smoke of a figure that has just exploded.
Easter in San Miguel is a religious and a secular time. There are many fiestas. Many streets are decorated with strings of triangular colored paper banners as depicted in the distance of my painting seen here.
We found our time there at Easter enchanting. I recommend it to you. You might notice in all the photos it is sunny and nice.
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