22 Aug 2011

San Miguel de Allende / Guanajuato

San Miguel de Allende
Just over 300kms north north east of DF is the stunning colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, on the 'silver road' that used to connect the mining towns of northern Mexico to the capital.  It added Allende to its title after 'its favourite son' Ignacio (A) who was a leading light in the fight for independence in the early 19th century.

Today it is full of American retirees (approx 10% of the pop) who enjoy the docile climate/ambience and push up the property prices.

The central square is an excellent place to imbibe a beverage and watch the mariachi's make their approach. We arrived on the Saturday evening and the place was pumping with 3 x 5 piece bands drumming, trumpeting and singing the night away as the townsfolk promenaded - fabulous...

For us the beauty of SM de A was further enhanced by the lovely cassita in which we stayed, all mod cons including a washing machine = always put a smile on Pam's face.

Fruit salad with lime and chili powder anyone?

Very different but equally beautiful is Guanajuato about 100 kms west. Built in a ravine with a network of road tunnels beneath the town (reputedly a legacy from its mining days) there is a real feeling of being in the mountains where every distance shot comes to a rocky end.

We are beginning to realise that in Mexico one is never too far from a revolutionary corner building or plaza, but Guanajuato has all of those and then some. The struggle for independence from Spain took 11 years (concluding in 1821) and during 10 of those years the head of Miguel Hidalgo (best mate of Ignacio Allende) was put on public display in down-town Guanajuato as a warning to other rebels.

Very apt that it should be the birth place of Diego Rivera who lived here for a decade before his family went south to DF.

We loved this town with its bustling pumping revolutionary vibe steeped in a rich cultural history (modern) although I now know what the hostel description of 'shared bathroom' can entail, namely the aforementioned facility being situated outside the padlocked bedroom door, across the common room, down a step or two depending on the lighting, out onto the roof terrace (mind the furniture/dried up flower pots/washing line - just at the right height for the taller than average gringo) and fumble for the light switch hanging by its own live wiring on the wrong side of the pitch black room, which after a couple too many coronas proved to be a trip to remember...ensuite it aint!

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