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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#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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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Sam Donaldson agrees: The ‘warm-up band’ (Alison Wright) stole the show

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Photographer Alison Wright and ABC newsman Sam Donaldson share a moment after delivering their talks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, on Feb.29.

While globe-trotting photographer Alison Wright billed herself as “the warm-up band for Sam Donaldson” and begged the audience not to boo her off stage with shouts of “Sam! Sam! Sam!,” the retired ABC newsman had a whole other take on the evening.

Wright and Donaldson were co-headliners before a packed Literary Society house in the HRM Ballroom in San Miguel de Allende on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

When Donaldson stood up to speak, he was clearly awed by the sometimes harrowing tales and stunning photographs presented by Wright, a featured National Geographic photographer.

“I’ve always believed that you don’t follow dogs or children onstage,” intoned Donaldson, “to which I’ll add, ‘Don’t follow Alison Wright!’ “ Continue reading

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