San Miguel de Allende, Writings, photography

Midnight serenade in Colonia San Antonio

The sound penetrated a deep sleep and scattered dreams. A car radio? The cantina on the corner? A passing boom box?

No, no, and no.

It was the real deal. At midnight a mariachi band was poised in a half-circle in front of our neighbor’s door serenading her in song here in Colonia San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende.

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San Miguel de Allende, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Writings, photography

What Hermann Hesse taught me

Street scene in San Miguel de Allende. The guitarist paused on his way to work to pick up a snack from the street merchant, who clearly has her hands full. This has nothing to do with my story, except that both occurred on the magical streets of San Miguel in the same week.

To the man whom I almost knocked over rounding the corner of Nemesio Diez and De Los Suspiros, thank you for reviving my interest in a novel that I put down many decades ago but never forgot its influence.

Early Tuesday evening, Moppit and I were walking on Nemesio Diez, past the public parking lot at the corner, heading for home at a brisk pace. Brisk for an old man and a dog with very short legs.

As we reached the corner of Suspiros, a man walking at about the same pace nearly collided with us. Or we nearly collided with him.

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photography, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

I love a parade … and a circus, and a rodeo, and a county fair, and a horse race … but mostly a parade

So sue me. I’m a sucker for a good parade.

Well, these days, I’ll take any parade — or a procession. You know, the kind we used to bump into on what felt like a daily basis back in the good old pre-Covid days.

Parades say “This is who we are. This is what we believe. This is the best of us, otherwise, why bother having a parade?” And, oh, we’ve had some wonderful parades in San Miguel de Allende.

Haven’t we?

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Thich Nhat Hanh was the right monk at the right time — then came 9/11

Tich Nhat Hanh

A good friend invited me to spend a Sunday in Balboa Park with a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. I knew very little of him but Sundays in September in San Diego can be glorious and there are few better places than the park for them.

I think it was promoted as a Day of Mindfulness, another subject about which I knew very little.

The day was pretty much a total immersion. We were blissfully adrift in a gentle sea of brown-robed Buddhist monks and nuns. There were dharma talks and long periods of meditation. Some were led by Thay in his soft, barely audible whisper of a voice. Some were led by his followers.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The pensive princess in the park

One shot. That’s all you get.

Magic abounds in San Miguel de Allende.

But it can be fleeting.

An open door.

A loving embrace.

A child’s smile.

A musician’s final note.

You are there. You happen upon the moment.

And you either lock it in your memory or …

… god forgive me, you pull out your camera.

The princess sat in Parque Juarez, near the gazebo.

Her face went to that place that princesses so often go to

When men dressed all in black with lights and baffles and screens

Scurry around her, trying to capture the fading light at dusk.

Her eyes turn inward, her thoughts go to … where?

A mantra? A shopping list? A party invite? A lover?

A magic spell to cast over her portraiture minions?

A first glimpse of her is through the vee

In this ancient split-trunk pine.

She could have been a woodland fairie,

Queen of the forest,

Mistress of the mystical realm.

Mab, Titania, Oonagh, Gloriana, Diana

The Queen of Elphame.

Meliae or Dryad, those Greecian nymphs of ashes and oaks.

But, more, a beautiful woman with sadness about her

As she waited for that special moment.

To come alive,

To conjure enchantment, and send it to the lens.

Immortalizing the fairie princess in her sylvan realm.

Real. Not real.

Magical, all the same.

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photography, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Restaurant preview: Climbing a stairway to heaven

Climbing the stairs to Hachmans restaurant on the roof of the new Amatte hotel in San Miguel de Allende.

If first impressions are all that important, facing the entrance to the brand new Hacmans restaurant in the even-newer Hotel Amatte (Amatte Wellnest Community) – which has yet to open – is a daunting one: 71 gleaming white stairs leading seemingly up to the sky.

Yes, count them: seventy-one.

Of course, there is a glass-box elevator off to the side, but what’s the fun in that? 

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photography, Writings

Road trip: Botanical garden of unearthly delights

A quick trip to San Diego last week included a nighttime visit to the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas which has decked out what seems to be all of its 37 acres with twinkling fairy lights, whirling kaleidoscopes of rainbow colors, washing waves of luminescent greens and reds, and light sculptures — all set against a canvas of bamboo groves, desert agave and palm plants, tropical rainforests, California palm trees, sturdy and ancient trees, Mediterranean bushes, and sub-tropical fruit trees.

There was even a snow-making machine if the light show weren’t enough for you. There was also wine by the glass for Mom & Dad. Pro tip: A night like this calls for a nice strong red with a side snack of kettle corn.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

In San Miguel de Allende, don we now our holiday apparel — and a fond farewell to Mr. Holiday, Colin Harnett

One thing San Miguel de Allende does well is dress up for the holidays.

Not just San Miguel. Every village, town, and city in the country brings out a million white lights, an enormous community tree, a life-size Nativity scene, and an infectious cheeriness that makes you glad to be living in Mexico.

Which I happen to do.

So here is a small collection of what is ahead in December.

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Movie review: “A Boy Called Christmas” lives up to his name & a holiday film classic is born

The Christmas origin story has taken a real beating on television in recent years.

The film factories don’t follow a script. The have a playbook. There are fixed characters, types. There are predictable situations. There are tried and true bromides. There are fixed plays. And there are utterly predictable endings in which the “true meaning” of Christmas is disgorged just before credits roll.

And the sudden appearance of the much-anticipated snowfall at the end is a complete surprise to everyone but the audience.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

A menorah with a message is lit for the first night of Chanukah in Parque Juarez

Rabbi Daniel Huebner of Chabad San Miguel de Allende lights the first candle on the community menorah on Sunday evening in Parque Juarez. A lit candle will be added on each of the following seven nights for the Chanukah celebration.

Happy Chanukah, my friends. Or Hanukkah.

Sunday night was the first night of Chanukah — the Festival of Lights — and the lighting of the first candle of the menorah. The Chanukah celebration is observed for eight nights and days, with a new candle being lit each evening.

I know all this because I was walking Moppit in Parque Juarez when I happened upon members of Chabad San Miguel de Allende lighting the community menorah in the park’s gazebo.

I missed most of the dedication, but I happened upon the gathering just as Rabbi Daniel Huebner was explaining the significance of this year’s menorah, created by artist Meila Penn.

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