San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Little escapes: Seventeen San Miguel experiences you can enjoy while sitting on your couch

Since the beginning of the Covid sequestration, I’ve been taking the occasional walkabout here in San Miguel de Allende. I’ve even taken some that were inspired by my beloved city but strictly products of the mind.

Honestly, we’re all kind of feeling like we are at the “break out” point.

I hope this will help.

Below is a selection of the walks — real and fantasy — that I’ve enjoyed over the past few months.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The rainy season turns San Miguel hillside neighborhood into a vernal wonderland

The rainy season has begun in San Miguel de Allende and brings with it an abundance of lush and impossibly green vegetation. There is a freshness to everything — the streets, the air, the flowers now blooming everywhere in mad bursts of color.

Walking though older parts of San Miguel feel like you have been transported to dense tropical forests in an era far removed from the present.

The perfect getaway for the homebound in the Age of Pandemic.

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

Sequestration meditation: Walk among the trees, with the thoughts of Hermann Hesse

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Text by Hermann Hesse: “Trees,” from “Wandering: Notes and Sketches”
Photographs by Robert J. Hawkins

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves.

IMG_1628 And even more, I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs, the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Road-trip: Feel the Bernal

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Peña de Bernal sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s part of the pleasure in photographing the monolith. From almost any vantage point you can take an awfully good photo. On the day we were there, the sky was mostly hazy overcast, great for photos and hiking.

Walking up the well-worn switchback trail of Peña de Bernal I had the oddest feeling that I’d been here before.

I hadn’t, of course. Which is why we were hiking this trail on Friday.

And yet … Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Best way to return to Porto after walking for two weeks? With a bag over your head

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Overlooking some of the beach that extends west from the village of Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela to Porto (160 km – felt like being in a sci-fi movie and life is playing out in reverse. Not recommended!)

There are so many ways to return to Porto at the end of your Camino walk. You can fly, take a train, take a bus, car pool (there’s an app for that) …

My advice is, whichever way you choose, put a bag over your head.

Sensory deprivation will be your friend.

Here’s why. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

A giddy collision of excesses, Santiago is no haven for reflection — that’s what the Camino was about

 

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Of all the incredible, awe-inspiring art and architecture in Santiago, this sculpture spoke loudest to me. It is a powerful reflection of how our soggy feet felt at this moment. The translation is something like “Walk straight, walk upright,” as if we need that advice now.

A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (7 km — felt wet and like it would take forever but, suddenly, it is over)

We have reached the end of our journey. We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela after walking more than 150 miles over 13 days through Portugal and Spain.

Words fail me.

No they don’t. Just kidding.  Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Nothing to do for two hours except lie in the grass and let the mind drift with the clouds

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This is me, as we wait for our auberge to open at the end of a lovely day hiking from Padron. Two hours of absolutely nothing. I kept track of the cloud formations and listened to my clothes dry in the warm sun.

img_7090Padron to A Coruña (20 km, felt like a constant climb)

I’m flat on my back. I can’t move.

Or, maybe I don’t want to move.

My boots are off. Yes, my boots are off. I can see the tips of my socks. I can smell them. So, I must have taken my boots off. Yes? That is a specific act. Not an accident.

My backpack is not where it is most often during the day: on my back. So, that too, is a clue. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Walking the Camino with Whitman, seeking the poet’s path between reality and the soul

img_6927-1The land and sea, the animals, fishes, and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests, mountains, and rivers, are not small themes … but folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects … they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.

— From Walt Whitman’s original introduction to “Leaves of Grass” 

Today is the day I found the path between reality and the soul.

To say that the path we walked was simply the most beautiful in all of the Portuguese Camino is difficult. There have been many remarkable sights. None, however, affected me quite like this one. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Slow down, walk in mindfulness, and the Camino’s hidden beauty is revealed

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An element of a plaza water fountain in Pontevedra, in which the shape of the spouting water is constantly changing to some hidden rhythm. The statue of the little boy always seems to get his mouthful, however.

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (22.2 kilometers, felt like 22.2 except for a very flat stretch of open and empty road after the sun came out)

We awake to a different Pontevedra this morning. Last night, we walked through gray granite and stone canyons, brightened only by the logos and signage of commerce and colorful storefront pitches for their wares, and the occasional art installation. And graffiti, ambitious graffiti murals in fluorescent colors.

But otherwise, a gray city fostering teeming waves of pedestrian life along traffic-free streets. 

Now, in the morning gloom, the rain and the streetlamps have washed everything with a shimmering amber sheen. A neon art project sings like an aria to the skies above. The pulsing cherry-sherbert lighting on a plaza fountain vibrates with a force unfelt in daytime. Continue reading

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