San Miguel de Allende

Road trip: Taking a deep dive into the thermal waters of Gruta Tolantongo

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The Tolantongo River, close to its headwaters at the top of the canyon which shares its name.

From deep within the Hidalgo Mountains, voluminous thermal rivers rise up to the surface above the Tolantongo box canyon. The warm waters cascade down the canyon sides and pour through vents into the grottos and caves.

The canyon walls are dotted with about 40 manmade semicircular pools called chapoteaderos into which are collected the warm waters rushing down the hillside. Water overflows from the upper pools and cascades into the lower pools. All the pools are connected by stairways.

No matter how many pools are built to trap the water, it is never enough. Water finds its way around the pools, over them, under them, into spontaneous rivulets and streams. The sensation is of being surrounded by the roar and rumble of rushing water.

In every sense, this is a totally immersive experience. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Shadowboxing and other enchanting things that catch the eye in San Miguel de Allende

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It is no revelation that San Miguel de Allende is awash in beauty. A photographer’s playground, a selfie’s sandbox, a dilettante’s garden of earthly delights.

Like shooting into a herd of buffalo. Aim your camera in any direction and you will hit the mark, as often as not.

How many people arrive in San Miguel and launch into the uber project — snapping photos of every attractive doorway, every brass knocker, with the objective of creating the perfect coffeetable book?

I did. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Up against the wall, Mojigangas!

IMG_0318What’s a mojiganga, you might ask.

They are giant paper mache and fabric figures mounted on the shoulders of a person who twirls, whirls, bows, and bobs and weaves and dances the puppet to life. They can tower as high as 18 feet and still dazzle you with the lightness of their feet.

A really good mojiganga puppeteer will bring their character to life with a spry step, whirling arms, and surprising dance moves. Yes, the person inside the suit becomes the character. Continue reading

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#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

In a chaotic world, writers play with the traditional structure of novels

Arbol-Literario-banner-2The recently concluded San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival made one thing pretty clear: Playing with time and structure, in the hands of inventive authors, makes for storytelling that is both challenging and riveting.

The chronological timeline seems so passe, when you add up the considerable success of the featured keynote authors.

Consider: 

Continue reading

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#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende

Delia Owens explores impact of isolation in ‘Where the Crawdads Sing,’ and discovers millions of friends

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Hal Wake and author Delia Owens dazzle a sold-out Gran Salon Ballroom at the Hotel Real de Minas during the closing night of the 15th annual San Miguel Writers’ Convention. (Photo by Mary Finley)

Select one of the following:

  1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a stunning debut novel about a young girl who grows up alone in a North Carolina swamp with only Nature to nurture her. Her story if folded within a tale of romance and a murder mystery.
  2. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a science-based allegory about the primal needs of mammals for community and the impact and consequences of growing up outside the socializing influence of the herd.
  3. “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a figment of your imagination because, good lawd dahling, everyone knows crawdads do not sing.
  4. The correct answer is a combination of bits and pieces of A, B, and C.

You said “D”?

Yes, you did. I distinctly heard you say “D” under your breath. Don’t try and wriggle out of it now. You said “D”!

Well, you are correct. Continue reading

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#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera: Tell someone today, ‘You have a beautiful voice’

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Poet and author Juan Felipe Herrera reads from one of his 30 published books at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival #smwc2020 on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Prologue: Juan Felipe Herrera was Poet Laureate of the United States 2015-17. He is an artist, a teacher, the author of 30 books across all genres, and he plays a mean harmonica.

As a keynote speaker at the 15th annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival, Herrera put the harmonica to good use. He also introduced plenty of “participatory poetry,” goading on the audience to share the load as he read his poems.

Herrera’s commentary is every bit as poetic as his published works. In fact, it was hard sometimes to see where his beguiling banter ended and a poem began.

Herrera’s life was a rough one from the start. His family traveled up and down California in the migrant labor trucks, from harvest to harvest.  Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

A night with author Colum McCann in 21 cantos

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Colum McCann signing books after his talk at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference this week.

Colm McCann came to the United States as a young man to write the great novel. When he got there he discovered he had nothing to say. So he bought a bicycle and pedaled out of Boston in search of a Muse. A year and a half and 8,000 miles and many flat tires later, he rolled into San Francisco a changed man.

Along the way, he collected hundreds of stories and made some profound discoveries about people and himself.

Everyone should try that at least once. (My recommendation, not necessarily Colum’s.)

Or, try this. When Tommy Orange was writing “There There,” and found himself in a hole, he’d strap on his running shoes and go for a long-distance run. He ended up with “good solutions and really bad poetry.”

OK, let’s stop here for a moment. Continue reading

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