San Miguel de Allende, Rants and raves

How I learned to tell the difference between decorative stone slabs and chicharrones — and you can, too


Truck carrying decorative stone moves up the Libramente. Also a weird self-portrait.

Many people know that I have a sense of humor that can best be described as “curious.” And at worse, “idiotic.”

Nobody has said that to my face –unless you count Facebook. It is what I tell myself in social situations when I find myself babbling on about … “oh god, what was I just saying? Idiot!”

This unfiltered tendency is why I prefer the company of quill pen, blueberry ink,  and parchment in a windowless monastic cell to high tea with the queen.

God save her.

The point is, I owe some of you an apology.

Yesterday, as I was on the overhead crosswalk to La Comer supermarket a truck passed by beneath me with what looked like an open load of neatly stacked chicharrones — the sinfully delicious deep-fried pig skin.

I described it as such on a Facebook post. (“Idiot.”) As we all know, humor on Facebook is open to interpretation, especially as to whether it is humor at all.

I can see why some might not have picked up on my humor. (“Idiot!”)

Still …

Chicharrones, in their natural state, are huge.

A family of four can sleep under a single slab of fried skin. Though I dare say, they would eat themselves out of house and home before the night is over.

It is just that addictive a treat.

The truck made a u-turn through the Pipila Glorieta and headed back up toward me. I was able to snap the picture, above.

A word about Pipila

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Statue of El Pipila in the Glorieta bearing his name in San Miguel de Allende.

Just an aside, The statue in the center of this roundabout, pays tribute to the revolutionary war hero “El Pipila.”  Juan José de los Reyes Martínez Amaro is usually depicted with a large slab of rock on his back.

That is not a chicharron.

It is a great story. At the beginning of the Mexican revolution, Spanish soldiers, merchants, and aristocrats barricaded themselves in a fortress-like granary in Guanajuato. From the soldiers’ position on the upper floor, rifle-fire rained down on the revolutionaries and the building seemed impregnable.

The revolutionaries were in a spot because reinforcements could come at any time and rescue the trapped Spanish citizenry, slowing the revolution, if not stopping it altogether.

El Pipila was a humble miner from San Miguel de Allende. But he had a solution.

He strapped a large flat rock on his back and slowly made his way to the main gates. The rock deflected rifle fire. He smeared the wooden gates with tar and lit them with his torch.

Soon enough the gates were open. The revolutionaries poured in. And a significant victory gave the uprising a major push.

Why anyone would think he’s carrying a chicharron, I’ll never know.

The big truck is not filled with chicharrones, either.

It was a load of stone — maybe Travertine marble or sandstone or creamy shale.

Whatever, I’d want it decorating my house.

Which brings me to a real truck carrying chicharrones. This pickup.

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Pickup truck filled with chicharrones on Refugio in San Antonio early this morning.

It was parked around the corner from my house early this morning, waiting for a neighbor who presumably would be delivering chicharrones like we used to deliver newspapers as kids.

So, here’s what I’ve learned: the difference between chicharrones trucks and trucks carrying decorative stone.

  1. Chicharron trucks are smaller. Trucks hauling sandstone slabs are bigger and heavier.
  2. Chicharron is generally wrapped in large plastic bags. Stone is not.
  3. You can eat chicharron right off the back of the truck. I wouldn’t advise trying that with stone.
  4. Chicharron smells better than slabs of stone.
  5. Slabs of stone last longer than slabs of chicharron.
  6. They are not interchangeable.

Spread the knowledge …


San Miguel de Allende

Met Opera regional finalists concert was the night of the sopranos in San Miguel


Metropolitan Opera regional finalists and program producer Rodrigo Garciarroyo accept the ovations after an encore performance Sunday night at St. Paul’s Church in San Miguel de Allende.

“Something wonderful is happening here,”  said Rodrigo Garciarroyo last night, after eight of Mexico’s finest young opera singers performed for more than two and a half hours before a very full house in St. Paul’s Church last night.

Producer and host Garciarroyo is a big man, in size and personality, and I don’t think he is given to understatement but then, we were all reaching for superlatives after this concert.

And all of us felt we were coming up a bit short. Continue reading

San Miguel de Allende

Sometimes, San Miguel weddings just make you smile — and you don’t even have to be a guest


What could be more romantic than a carriage pulled by two black steeds, ready to whisk away the new bride and groom?

If it is Saturday, there are weddings to be had at the Parroquia de San Miguel in Centro.

Wedding parties are stacked up like planes over O’Hare, waiting to touch down in the gaudy sanctuary for their moment of nuptualism.

Yet, there is no assembly line feel to all this. Continue reading

San Miguel de Allende

Hundreds of riders pass through Centro en route to honoring St. Martin


Riders paused in front of the Parroquia for prayers, selfies, regrouping, and socializing before riding out of town.

Hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls have come to town for the blessings of the church on riders and their mounts on Friday, Nov. 8 around 5 p.m. More riders may gallop through Centro on Saturday.

They are celebrating the feast of St. Martin, patron saint of horse riders. Continue reading

San Miguel de Allende

In San Miguel, it is always one thing, then another, and another


The pied pipers of San Miguel, leading a birthday party down Cuna de Allende on Thursday evening, November 7, 2019.

The thing about San Miguel de Allende is, when you set off to do one thing, something else pops up along the way.

Then something else.

Then something else again.

And so on, until you are back home again. Continue reading

Camino: Porto to Santiago, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

Birds on a wire


The view from my terrace this evening, Doves on the wire in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. November 2019.

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in some old midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

— Leonard Cohen – “Bird on the Wire,” 1979

What can possibly be more free than birds on a wire?

They come. They go. They gather. They fly off on a whim.

Doves gather and coo sweet nothings in each others’ ears.

But mostly they sit silently,  thinking thoughts beyond our reach and ken.

They enjoy the buzzy thrum of power surging beneath their feet.

They face forward, into the weather, keeping feathers unruffled.

Much as we wish we could go through life.


Blackbirds watch the world whiz by from a safe perch in Porto, Portugal. October 2019.

The next best thing to birds on a wire?

Birds on a rail.

Eleven blackbirds all in a row.

What a conversation up there!

Blackbirds tell each other the most inappropriate jokes. They make fun of the tourists passing below.

They insult each other and slap each other on the back before flying off in search of a beer.


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Illusions. Tui, Spain. October 2019.

We walk past buildings and see loose wires, draped across the front.

“An unsightly mess,” we think. Then we walk on.

Into the unsightly mess that is our lives.

The rare soul sees art, or the opportunity for art.

Even rarer is the one who commits the act of art.

Enabling the rest of us, who have passed the same wire for untold ages,

to smile, to chuckle, to enjoy the whimsy of an artistic soul/warrior.

Commit art where and when you can.

Be like Leonard Cohen.

Express yourself.

Let the rest of the world figure it out.

San Miguel de Allende

What else would you do after having your face painted but mount horses and ride into the sunset?

IMG_8644 (1)Our downstairs neighbor Jimmy Hickey painted Rose and Caira for Dia de Muertos on Saturday (last day of a three-day observance.)

Jimmy favors the more-colorful “sugar skull” Catrina look, rather than the scarier black-and-white skulls. I think it works with these two!

We’re blessed to have such creative neighbors! Jimmy and his wife, Gina Bradley, both worked in the animation industry. He was an artist and she was a production manager, most recently called out of retirement by Disney to work on “Frozen II.” Jimmy worked for Hanna-Barbera, Pixar and a lot of freelance animation. Continue reading