There's an artist named Jane LaFazio, whose blog I have followed for quite some time. My interest in her ramped up several notches when I came across this article in a magazine last fall, and discovered that she and and a few of her artist friends had hosted a couple of retreats in San Miguel de Allende -- a place I'd always dreamed of going. Now, imagine my astonishment when I was wandering around our hotel in San Miguel early one morning, and came across this in one of the parlors...
Later I found owner Barbara and asked her if she actually knew Jane LaFazio. "Oh yes! She's hosted art retreats here at Casa de las Noches for several years now. They made that totem at the last one." "Um, do you know if there's another one coming up this year?" "Yes, but I'm afraid she's booked up a year in advance." Dagnabbit! Turns out there is an amazing, light-filled art studio up there on one of the rooftop verandas.
Not only that, Barbara is currently looking into acquiring one property that would be geared towards hosting just these kinds of retreats, and another that would be for long term stays -- guests who wished to stay for a month or longer.
Now, from the very first morning when we woke up to that delicious chill in the air, John and I had been joking about coming to spend every August here in San Miguel. Texas is hell in August! Of course, we were only teasing...or were we? I have absolutely no desire to ever own two houses at once again. I can barely handle the upkeep on one! Nor do I wish to spend my remaining days as an expat, away from our families and not really belonging in either country. But what if we could find an economical place to stay for just one month each year. How would we fill our days? How do we fill our days in Texas each August? Hiding in our air conditioned house!
Anywho, back to our final, blissful, unscheduled day in San Miguel. At breakfast friend Helen asked if we had ever made it over to Fabrica La Aurora. No, we hadn't. She said it was a fabulous facility that used to be a textile mill, but is now filled with galleries, shops, art studios, gardens and three lovely restaurants. They liked it so much they went there twice! So that's where we headed. We got there right at 10:00, their official opening time. Should have known better, as almost none of the shops were open yet. Fortunately, their lovely courtyard cafe was!
That gave us time to peruse the jewel of a little magazine we found in their entry area, free of charge! It was called the San Miguel Walking and Shopping Guide (May-Sept. 2015), and inside it had a map dividing the city into ten different color-coded walking routes. Then there was a whole section in the book corresponding to each route. Not only did they tell you the best shops in each section, they also gave historical information about any important landmarks you might pass, as well as tips on all the best places for a meal, beverage, or snack. Why, oh why, didn't we discover this on our first day here? Of course, if we ever came here and stayed longer, we could devote one day to each of the ten routes, and have ten different adventures! By the time we finished pouring over that, the shops were beginning to come to life.
Come to find out, many of the artists (most, if not all, English-speaking) teach workshops periodically. I picked up several brochures, including one for an artist who teaches mixed-media encaustic workshops. That might be fun, if I ever came and had a bit more time, right? We finished up our visit with lunch at another of their lovely cafes, then Hubby and I split up to each spend our last afternoon trying to fit in all the things we most wanted to see and do. An impossible task.
That evening we met back up with the rest of our group for a lovely farewell dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, and then it was time to go back and pack up.
Dear San Miguel de Allende, I feel like I've barely scratched your surface! But maybe, just maybe, I'll be back!