Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scenes from San Miguel de Allende

Our month in San Miguel flew by and as usual we had a great time. However, we both came down with something the last week we were there and I didn't get around to blogging. We're now back in Arizona but I wanted to post a few pictures. The picture above is of the Parroquia, San Miguel's signature church. The picture below shows how the spires and towers of the Parroquia extend all the way to the ground.

We heard some fabulous music while we were in San Miguel. We went to the Piano Bar a few times to hear our friend Rick's band, the ZuZuMen, and they always had the place rocking.  J.K. O'Donnell is the vocalist and plays the blues harp, Ken Baseman is on guitar, Danny Beltran bass (he's the only bass player I've ever seen consistently smile while he plays), and our friend Rick on the drums.
The ZuZuMen also played at the Blues and Brunch Benefit for San Miguel Protege which is an organization working to preserve San Miguel's Historic Centro. It was a great setting and packed with people. It was a release party for the band's new CD 'Blues You Can Use' as well.

The brunch was hosted by Casa Angelitos which is a beautiful B&B with wonderful views.

Several years ago we saw Doc Severinson play in San Miguel. It was one of our favorite nights of music and I blogged about it here , just scroll down the page a bit.
Doc was playing with some very talented musicians, some of whom still tour with him and still play in San Miguel. Pedro Cartas, a virtuoso violinist from Cuba, has played and recorded with Doc. We were able to hear him with his trio one night at Hecho en Mexico, a local restaurant. Marvelous music.

Probably our favorite thing to do in San Miguel is just wander around and enjoy the sights.

While visiting San Miguel we stay at the Hotel and Balneario San Ramon. There is a hotel, small restaurant, several swimming pools and nine RV spaces in the main RV area. There are additional RV spaces on the hill behind the hotel but we prefer parking in the main area. It's a very pleasant and secure place to park and of course we enjoy the other RVers. We've made some wonderful friends there.

The little town of Atotonilco is about 5 miles north of Hotel San Ramon. The church there is known as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico because of its paintings. We made a return visit and were just as astounded as the first time we went there. It seems as though every inch is covered in intricate detail.

In 2013 San Miguel de Allende was named the number one city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine readers. There are many reasons why it came out on top and is consistently named a must-see destination. Yes, there are more and more Americans and Canadians living there but we are pleased to see that it has retained so much of its colonial heritage and charm. Let's just hope that continues since we're consistently drawn back.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Statue of an Otomi soldier
Our friends Antonio and Ericka live and work in the lovely city of Queretaro which is about 45 miles from San Miguel de Allende. Our mutual friends Rick and Ruth had been to the commercial area of the city but not the historic zone. Last time we all got together we decided we would take a day trip to meet Antonio and Ericka for some touring and lunch. Queretaro is an impressive city with a very European feel, full of quaint plazas, colonial buildings, some of which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and interesting pedestrian walkways.

The Historic Monuments Zone of Queretaro was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 and there are statues and fountains everywhere.  I love the fountain above with the water coming out of the dogs' mouths. The statue below is of Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez (known as La Corregidora). She was a supporter of the Mexican Independence Movement. In 1810 she warned the rebel leaders of an upcoming attack to take place in San Miguel de Allende. The rebel leaders were able to escape and three days later the Mexican War of Independence began. This is only one of the tributes we saw to her throughout the city.

One prominent feature of Queretaro is its enormous aqueduct, consisting of seventy five arches, each twenty meters wide with a total extension of 1,280 meters and an average height of twenty three meters. It was built between 1726 and 1738 at the request of the nuns of the Santa Clara Convent to bring water to the residents of the city. While the aqueduct no longer carries water, it has been well preserved and maintained.

We enjoyed seeing the sights and getting caught up on things over lunch.

Querétaro has repeatedly been recognized as the metro area with the best quality of life and as the safest city in Mexico. It was completely charming and we will be back.
Once again, we took a lot of photos and will share some of our favorites below.

Queretaro is known for its abundance of purple flowering jacaranda trees, as seen in this photo.

This dog on the roof  was keeping a lookout, maybe watching for the 3 amigos in the photo below.

A small section of a door that was at least 10 feet tall.

Our route...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lord of the Conquest, San Miguel de Allende

The festival of El Senor de la Conquista,  Lord of the Conquest, is an annual tradition held the first Friday in March in San Miguel. It celebrates an event that took place in 1575 when two Spanish priests who were transporting a figure of Christ were attacked and killed south of San Miguel. The figure was later fetched by the villagers and has since been worshipped, especially in this area. There is a similar figure in another town in Mexico but there is no special celebration there - San Miguel has become the capitol of this festival.

Dancers from several parts of the country converge in San Miguel and dance in the streets around the Jardin and in front of the Parroquia.

We could feel the loud beating drums going right through us as we approached the Jardin. The colorful dancers were dressed in a pre-Hispanic manner with seed pods rattling around their ankles and huge plumed headdresses.

These dancers were particularly interesting in their traditional garb with CDs placed here and there.

The figure of the Lord of the Conquest is usually in a side altar at the Parroquia but is moved to the main altar during the festival as a symbol of the power of God and his love for the Indians. Groups performed in front of the Parroquia doors leading to the main altar, dancing to the rhythmic drums and conchas.

The concha is a traditional stringed instrument similar to a guitar and is made out of an armadillo shell. 

It was fun to be present for this festival which was a photographer's delight, judging by the number of people taking pictures. A few more of our favorites...

Links with more information

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Church in the central plaza or jardin
The small town of Bernal is a Pueblo Magico located about 80 miles from San Miguel de Allende. A plaque on the building pictured below states that 'It is a mystical and enigmatic destination, with a historic and cultural legacy, therefore it was named a Pueblo Magico in 2006 by Mexico's Ministry of Tourism.'

Bernal is at the base of a rock called Pena de Bernal. The rock is believed to impart a kind of cosmic mystical energy, and Bernal's residents are said to be the longest lived in Mexico with many of them living well into their nineties. They maintain that the forces within the rock are responsible for their longevity. Other places throughout the world have been identified as places with similar cosmic or mystical energies. Haystack Mountain outside of Boulder, Colorado and Sedona, Arizona are two of the places we have been to that are considered to be sacred sites because of these energies.

Pena de Bernal can be seen towering over the town and made a good reference point while we were wandering and driving around.

In 2013 Pena Bernal was officially named the world's tallest rock. I read that it took a great deal of argument for it to finally acquire this status.  For many years scientists had said that the Rock of Gibraltar and Sugarloaf in Rio de Janeiro, were both taller than Pena Bernal.  However, the scientific journal 'Geosphere' finally settled the competition and declared that Peña de Bernal is the world’s tallest free standing rock. Surprisingly, it took this long for the rock to be accurately measured in terms of its height. A team from the National Autonomous University of Mexico settled the rock's vital statistics. It is 1,421 feet high (that’s 433 meters) which is higher than Gibraltar at 1,398 feet (426m) and the Sugarloaf which trails in third at 1,299 feet (396m). According to Leonor López Domínguez of México Desconocido, Pena de Bernal was formed some 100 million years ago during the Jurassic period, when it must have been at least three times higher than today

Bernal is an enchanting town. The buildings are colorful with lots of little details, each one different from the next.

The face of the building centered in the arch is completely tiled.

 This church, which has a similar color scheme to the one in the main plaza, is now a museum.

 On the weekends Bernal has a thriving tourist business, but it was pretty deserted during the week which was nice for us.

We found a great little spot for a picnic below the rock.

We kept hearing voices off in the distance and figured out that there was a group of people climbing the rock. This side of the rock is quite difficult to climb as opposed to the other side which has a hiking trail. Many people make a pilgrimage to the highest point of the hiking trail, visiting a little chapel about halfway up.
On this side it seemed like it should be done either with a guide or by those who had some experience.
The first photo shows the top of the rock with climbers ascending, and the second is a closer look - there are twelve climbers.

 We found a website that gives information about doing the climb with a guide at!product/prd1/1287849061/ascenso-cumbre-de-bernal

Our route from San Miguel to Bernal which took about 1 1/2 hours.