Camino: Porto to Santiago, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Entering Phase 2 of the coronavirus with the help of the Camino, history, humor, and Garrison Keillor & Randy Rainbow

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Decontamination crews are spraying down the streets of San Miguel de Allende today. The visuals alone ought to drive the doubters indoors. (Photograph by John Bohnel)

So, Mexico entered Phase 2 on Tuesday. While the president still hugs and kisses the babies and young girls, his Health secretary has called for restaurants and casinos to be closed, for public gatherings to disperse — you know, the same stuff we have been doing in San Miguel for a couple of weeks now.

Only, a lot less.

Phase 2 is clinically called the “community transmission phase.”

Phase 2 feels like Mom calling the kids inside to safety — after it starts raining. The kids have been playing outside, conscious of the dark clouds building. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Something is different: A morning walk in San Miguel in the Age of Pandemia

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Early evening in San Miguel de Allende. The clouds rise up in the east like fluffy canvases, awaiting the inspiration of the dying sun to recast them in gold and amber hues.

We walk this same path over and over, Moppit and I.

The pattern is unchanging.

Open the front door at 7 a.m.

Glance up into the sky and count the hot air balloons.

Or remark on their absence.

 

Today was a day to note their absence. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

We settle in, as an edgy quiet descends upon San Miguel de Allende, like freshly fallen snow

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Sunshine showers down on the campo as Zangunga’s Sunday crowd heads for home one last time — for now at least.

San Miguel de Allende is not yet a ghost town, but it is awfully quiet. 

On Saturday there were five hot air balloons crossing the sky as I took Moppit out for her morning walk. Today, there were none.

San Miguel’s edgiest T-shirt shop (“Any design you want, in black and white only”) has had a “Pinche Trump” T-shirt in the window for as long as I can remember. Today, a new shirt reigns: “Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands.”

Available in black 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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San Miguel de Allende

Dancing for the lives of all women

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Just before 4 p.m. on a brilliant and blazing Sunday afternoon in San Miguel de Allende the sound of a boombox rose above the usual bustle and cacophony of the Jardin Principal.

As if on cue, the several venders with their bright balloons and bouncing pencils were swept away like neon flotsam and jetsam on the shore.

A lone, tall, leggy blonde in jeans and a black top stepped to center stage and began to dance. She got the attention of the milling crowd. A second woman, all in black, bounded into the open space and the two danced as one. (Full disclosure: Woman No. 2 was my wife, Rose Alcantara.) Continue reading

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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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