Very few people — children, mostly — know that all around San Miguel de Allende there are portals that can transport you to unimaginable places.
No, sorry. That’s not right.
You have to imagine a place before you can be transported to it.
That’s why children — who still possess great imaginations — are most-aware of these magical conveyances.
Some portals are as simple as looking out a window and setting your mind free.
Others are trickier.
Like a hallowed out spot in an ancient tree. Or a stack of bricks where a door once was. A word of caution, brick door portals can be tricky. Be very sure it is a portal before rushing through.
Nobody will believe you if you later say, “Oh? This? I ran into a brick wall.”
My favorites are the places that look like doors but are random pieces of wood held precariously together by rusted hardware. A patchwork quilt of a portal. Like this one:
The first impulse of the unimaginative man is to think, “Why that thing is about to fall apart.” and also “You can’t possibly open that door!”
This special kind of door only comes together when the person standing in front of it needs it most. Then, it looks quite like any other door, through which you can step into a magical world.
Lately, I’ve begun noticing portals like the one at the top of this page. It looks enormous, I know. But it is barely 7.7 inches wide by 5.3 inches tall. Very few human heads could stick through an opening that small. Most of us would get quite stuck. And embarrassed.
These are impossibly small openings which require the best faculties of your mind to imagine yourself very small. But once you have made that connection, entering is quite simple.
Here’s another. Look closely. The Cheshire cat is peering back at you:
Alas, I am old and my imagination fails me sometimes.
I would have loved to cross the threshold you see at the top of this page (Go ahead, look at it again. I’ll wait.) but I had a to-do list in one hand and a dog on a leash in the other.
I did force myself to stop and take a peek. The jungle on the other side seems Amazonian in size and quite tropical. Perhaps it is a forest of unicorns, narwhals, penguins and macaws.
I thought I heard the flapping wings of tree fairies — the ones who maintain the portals and live in the city’s most ancient trees. It would be lovely if they were on holiday. Nobody in San Miguel works as hard as tree fairies.
If you go hunting for portals, I have a few tips that can help you. (For reasons known only to tree fairies, they are all listed as No. 1):
- A faint drawing on a wall is often a sign leading to a portal. I’m not talking about full-blown wall-size murals. These are delicate, little drawings. Although, fun fact, occasionally in their enthusiasm for intricate drawings and bright colors, muralists have been known to accidentally open a portal through their artwork. (These quickly close up when the paint dries.)
- If you see a feral cat sitting like a sentinel on a crumbling wall, it may very well be guarding a portal. Cats are very supportive of magic portals and take a personal interest in their maintenance and protection.
- Ancient trees offer some of the most interesting portals. I don’t know why. This is just what I’ve been told. Perhaps because they have been around longer than most of us.
Well, I can go on and on but there is nothing quite like experiencing a portal all on your own. Keep your eyes and hearts open. Freshen up your imagination. If it has grown old and withered like mine, borrow one from a child for a little while until yours can stand on its own.
Should you take a trip through one of San Miguel’s magic portals any time soon, write to me and tell me all about it.
And don’t leave out a single detail.