It is the last day of The Burren Way and we are walking from Carran to Corofin through a rocky wonderland in a gentle misty rain.
You know it is going to be an interesting day when our B&B host Julianne’s directions include the phrase, “Turn right at the castle ruins.”
She also urges us to detour from the route to visit the triple ringfort of Cathair Chomáin, built on the edge of a cliff around the year 800 A.D. It was excavated in 1934 and 2003 but still holds much mystery about its origins.
Over coffee and toast – Julianne offers us a full Irish breakfast (part of the B&B fare) but I am thinking of the consequences of a full stomach and the six-plus hours of walking ahead – we learn some of the history of her cottage which has been in and out of her family since the 1800s. It is decorated in the comfy Irish style – family photos cover every wall and horizontal surface. Books cover what is left.
We’ve been dodging in and out of the rain since we began walking the Wild Atlantic Way in County Clare four days ago. This morning, awakening to the steady patter of rain on the windows of the Wild Atlantic Lodge in Ballyvaughan, it feels like we’ve run out of dodges.
Did we really want to walk to Carran — or Carron? It is spelled both ways, often side by side, and nobody seems to really care. I asked. “Either way,” is the most common response.
One of the Burren walking guides calls this leg “extremely rewarding and scenic …”
Well, that is encouraging. Except it is dumping buckets outside.
This morning is one of those “it might rain” weather forecasts, and a few sprinkles are falling already as Amy drives the kids to school and us a mile farther up the road to the trailhead for the hike to Ballyvaughan.
We’re all talking rapidly as if trying to squeeze a lifelong friendship into a five-minute ride. We really like Amy and her family.
She tells us of the difficulties of the universal lockdown in Ireland during Covid, how neighbors turned in neighbors if they violated the 5 or 10-kilometer perimeter set up for each home, how stir-crazy everyone became, and how hard it was to make a living on a short leash.
“You’re heading out on my favorite hike,” says Amy. “We all discovered the Burren and hiking during the lockdown. It was the only thing we could do. And now I love it.”
A walking vacation in Ireland was supposed to be a birthday present from Rose Alcantara to me a couple of years ago. We both thought that the idea of a 70-year-old man walking around the Emerald Isle was perfectly sound and a touch romantic.
You know: a shaggy old gent dressed in tweeds, canvas spats, a carved walking stick, one of those adorable wool caps the sheepherders wear, a small daypack with wine, cheese, and brown bread. Maybe a pipe.
I envisioned gentle green-carpeted trails beside burbling brooks from which I could snag a trout on a fly rod for dinner back at the lodge. There would be castle ruins, steaming beef stew, leprechauns, sheep a plenty, and fey red-headed colleens waving from windows as I walked through quaint and ancient hamlets.
You know what happened. Because it happened to you as much as it happened to us. And it wasn’t banshees, laddie.
Moppit the Philosopher Dog is pretty insistent that I take her for a walk, no more than 10 minutes after she finishes her 5 p.m. dinner. She is a creature of habit. Moppit starts a huff-snorting sound around my ankles if I’m not reaching for the leash, the kind of sound a woman makes when the husband comes home late smelling of booze and perfume and mumbles “biznish shmeeting.”
lately, it has been in the high 80s around 5 p.m. here in San Miguel de Allende, so I try to reason with her.
The popular Colonia San Antonio art walk, MyStudio/MiEstudio, will be back bigger and better than ever this year, July 16 and 17, from noon to 5 p.m. on both days.
Like so many events, the tour of neighborhood studios and galleries went on hiatus during the Covid lockdown. It returned last October as a down-sized two-day pop-up art show at the Institutio Allende, Ancha #22, attracting about 30 artists.
This year, MyStudio/MiEstudio returns to the neighborhood streets and organizers are expecting the biggest show yet – more artists, more studios, more galleries, more sponsorship opportunities, more restaurants, and cafes.
“There will also be a preview exhibit at Instituto Allende,” confirms Instituto director of operations Zara Fernandez, the event organizer with Peter A Davis.
“This is a very well-attended community event,” says Fernandez. “Visitors will want to lunch and shop all through Colonia San Antonio during this event.”
In the last couple of years, San Antonio has enjoyed a boom in restaurants, cafes, bakeries, tiendas, and especially a stunning array of street murals, and is gaining a reputation as one of San Miguel de Allende’s most walkable neighborhoods.
My Studio Art Walk got its start in 2013 as the San Antonio Open Studios Art Walk. The event has undergone a couple of changes in name and changes in organizers but the goal has always been the same — to connect the rich wealth of artists in San Antonio with the greater community.
A few years ago, the art walkabout felt like something out on the frontier. Even so, by 2019 there were 51 artists exhibiting in the Colonia and the event drew thousands of people. It has grown into a highly anticipated opportunity to meet with artists in their studios, homes, and galleries, talk with them about their work, and even pick up some prized pieces at surprisingly good prices.
Organizers anticipate that many participating sponsor restaurants and eateries will offer specials during the event.
The variety of art on offer has grown as well.
“In their studios, you will see a broad variety of materials and an eclectic expression of these materials,” says Fernandez. “Paintings are large and small, abstract and figurative. Clayworks and sculptures are varied. Jewelry embraces beautiful beading, and recycled and unconventional metal pieces. Photography ranges from traditional to digitally manipulated. You will see mixed media mandalas, weird wonderful masks, calligraphy with collage, printmaking, and drawing.”
MyStudio/MiEstudio will be printing up 5,000 colorful maps of the Colonia with the locations of all artists and participating restaurants, cafes, and shops – all marked and numbered for an easy stroll through the neighborhood.
To enhance the exposure of the exhibitors, MyStudio/MiEstudio will create short interview videos with each registered participant. Interviews will be held at the Instituto Allende on June 12th and 13th from Noon to 5 pm. The Instituto Allende website NEWS section will also carry bios of the exhibiting artists and examples of their artwork.
An outreach program to encourage native Mexican artists living in Colonia San Antonio to exhibit their art during MyStudio/MiEstudio has been revived. The entry fee ($850 pesos) will be waived for eligible participants.
The deadline for all artists to submit applications and fees is June 10.
To qualify as an exhibitor, artists must live and/or work in Colonia San Antonio, and have done so for at least the past six months. Those who lived in San Antonio before the Covid pandemic and showed in previous MyStudio/MiEstudio events are also eligible to exhibit.
For more details, contact MyStudio/MiEstudio at email@example.com .
The best days to walk around Centro in San Miguel de Allende have got to be Thursday through Saturday.
Thursdays seem to be when the girls celebrating their quinceañeras come to the Parroquia to pose in their lavish 15th birthday gowns. A charming sight to see. Tiaras on their head, sneakers beneath a billowed and sparkling gown. A furrowed brow as the photographer aligns the perfect shot erupts into a brilliant smile on command.
The young woman pictured here stands in the middle of Calle Aldama for a classic image with Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel in the background.
Just kidding. I couldn’t possibly post a video of mariachis performing every day.
Or could I?
No. An occasional mariachi video is quite enough.
I like these guys who can be seen and heard in Centro, San Miguel de Allende, on many evenings. They have style and elegance, multi-generational, and the white suits stand out in a park filled with tourists in T-shirts and too-tight shorts.
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.