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

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

Up against the wall, Mojigangas!

IMG_0318What’s a mojiganga, you might ask.

They are giant paper mache and fabric figures mounted on the shoulders of a person who twirls, whirls, bows, and bobs and weaves and dances the puppet to life. They can tower as high as 18 feet and still dazzle you with the lightness of their feet.

A really good mojiganga puppeteer will bring their character to life with a spry step, whirling arms, and surprising dance moves. Yes, the person inside the suit becomes the character. 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

In San Miguel de Allende, always follow the music

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Aguascalientes holds an impromptu dance party at the corner of San Francisco and Corregidora in San Miguel de Allende on Tuesday night. Dancing couples filled the street.

There are abundant guidelines to enjoy a visit to San Miguel de Allende.

Among them: “Don’t walk and gawk.” Many people end up on their faces while looking to the left or right while walking. You might see that colorful dress in the window but what you miss is the sudden change in elevation of the sidewalk.

If you want to look, then stop, relax, take it all in before proceeding with your walk.

Besides, you’re in San Miguel de Allende, the magic city! What is your hurry? Continue reading

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

Broken hearts, mescal dreams, and torch songs

San Miguel torch singer María Sánchez gave a stunning concert under the trees near Parque Juarez on Saturday, backed by the talent-rich Usual Suspects including Julián Arcos, Rubén Olivera, and Victor Monterrubio.

She is a wonderful singer for whom, my wife says, I carry a big crush. “He moans when she sings,” she tells friends.

Maybe so, on both accounts.

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María Sánchez with her beautiful new granddaughter, Olivia, after her performance.

Her singing does something to me. I can’t deny it. But I am mature enough to separate the singer from the song, from the real person beneath it all. I think. I mean, I was wondering “What on earth is María Sánchez doing singing outside, and at 1 p.m.?” So my imagination does slip in through the backdoor when she sings.

In my mind, she is a torch meant to burn only in the night when the heart and soul are at their darkest and most lonely. Obviously, I do have fantasies about María Sánchez. 

Rather than spoil her concert by trying to describe it, below is the story that wrote itself as I sat in the bright sunlight, listening to her sing. Any relationship to people living or dead is strictly coincidental. Blame it on mescal: Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Why I love San Miguel: Walked down the Ancha to get the mail … and this is what I saw

IMG_9112Something was a little off when Moppit and I reached the Ancha on our walk early this morning. Not a single car was parked on the normally busy thoroughfare that divides Centro from Colonia San Antonio.

On any other day, both curbs would be lined with cars.

Either somebody was going to be moving a giant house down the street on a flatbed — or there was a parade scheduled. Continue reading

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