San Miguel Allende
Rolling out of the bus onto a street of people should elicit a response from those living or working nearby. Oddly, nobody ever seems surprised to see us. No one alarmed or put off that we are there. Just another example of mexico's accepting culture. Jen talks with a few passers by outside while I lay inside with the doors wide open and still nestled under the sheets. Everyone has the same responses- how great, welcome to my country/city, safe travels on your journey. We love the people in this country.
We make the quick drive over to San Miguel Allende. Not really in route to Guanajuato, but we aren't certain we'll have time to get here in the middle of the rally and dont want to miss it. Shortly after pulling in we see why it's on everyones list. This city is sprawled over the hillside like it grew out of the earth. The colonial architecture is fantastic and the streets are extremely narrow and steep as you climb the hill towards the historic city center and temples. We are amazed, but E climbed the hills and took the streets like a champ. As we sit atop one hill and prepare to descend the far-too-steep road back down we feel like we are sitting at the top of a roller coaster and should have our arms in the air. Have I mentioned how happy I am that we put disc brakes in before leaving canada?
We find public parking and grab a gordita to fuel us for the walk around the hilly streets. This delectable treat is a thick tortilla that already had some meat and cheese added to the dough before cooking. It's then cut open, stuffed full of your meat/veggie choice and tossed back on the skillet. Mexican comfort food. yum.
I simply cant stop taking photos in this town. The architecture of every building from the largest temple to the smalest home makes we want to sit down and sketch, and i soon notice others doing just that. The orange, yellow and red paint used on almost every building in town creates a warm backdrop for our walk and the cobblestone streets and impeccably restored (but not updated) facades beg for photos. I probably snap 3 shots for every block we walk refusing to admit that all the streets are similar and one shot would probably suffice.
Around the temples we see the mexican sunday we've grown to love, except this time they arent leaving the city to join us on the beach. Everyone flocks to the squares to enjoy their beautiful city and we are coming in to join them in the fun. Again we see dancing and children playing in the streets and could spend all day sitting amongst the locals and soaking in the vibe.
We realize later that what we dont see are the gringos that we've been told have overrun San Miguel. We have been told by countless people about how the town is now full of gringos (reportedly over 10% of the city's population). We might have counted as many as a dozen.As we pass the garden and square in front of the largest temple we watch couples pass through the arcade hand in hand looking at menus and deciding which outdoor table to sit at while they pass the day. Were the music in the background (and the couples dancing to it) not salsa, I would think that we're walking the streets of Italy. The history and architecture of these Mexican cities gives up nothing to the world's other historic centers and with the addition of mexico's wonderfully friendly people and highly affordable prices...no wonder so many are leaving the troubles of home for a new stress-free lifestyle here.
We finally return to the bus and look for a place to spend the night. Parking is extremely difficult here (at least on a sunday) and we decide to find a campground and some services for the first time since leaving the coast. Using a rough map we descend the hillside and find the gate that disguises San Miguel RV park. We realize we havent been at a campground/rv park since early october and havent been at one with other traveller's since baja. Maybe it's our attempts at living as cheap as humanly possible, but we seem to always find ourselves off the typical path and away from other travellers. As we read blogs of those also heading south they seem to be surrounded almost nightly by others on the road as where we have only met two other travellers in our 5 months on the road.
We add a few more to that number today, as the campground has four unimogs from germany and switzerland and E is dwarfed beside the giant beasts in the spaces beside us. We setup camp and cook dinner knowing that there will be plenty of time to learn more about our neighbors' travels tomorrow. The toques and sleeping bag are out in full force now. We are sitting at about 6300' elevation and with it has come chillier nights (its about 45°F, a far cry from our temps on the coast). I had almost forgotten the feeling of Jens frigid feet on me as we crawl into bed...almost.