Friday, August 14, 2015


Good news at breakfast! Our ailing tour member got to come home from the hospital later that same day. Her hip replacement had not "broken", the bone just popped out of its socket. They sedated her enough to manipulate it back into place, then sent her on her way. Lesson Learned: Always get travel insurance when you leave the country, and always opt for the "health coverage/hospitalization" option. It costs very little, and could save you a fortune. Just because you have health coverage in the US does not mean they will accept it in another country.  

After yet another yummy breakfast treat at our hotel -- toasted bolillo buns topped with refried beans and cheese, with tomatillo sauce and guacamole on the side -- we were loaded into three vans and driven out to the huge traveling market that lands there in SMdA each Tuesday. Consisting mostly of produce stands, used goods and food stalls that looked and smelled delicious, but which we were warned not to eat from, we were all quite under-whelmed by the shopping opportunities. But the photo ops? Well, those were endless!

Anybody know what fruit this is?

Squash Blossoms Ready for Stuffing and Frying
Hubby did manage to resist the temptation of a macrame baby bed, but it wasn't easy!
Once we were delivered back to our hotel, Hubby and I headed over to La Biblioteca for a bite of lunch at Cafe Ana, then it was off to the Artisans' Market, where we found plenty to buy -- including a couple of "Happy Blouses" for me!

We met back up for a refreshing beverage at Muro's on Calle Loreta, before heading back to the hotel for our afternoon shower/siesta/journaling break.

That evening we were planning to return to Carreo Cafe, maybe try some of their other menu options, but must have taken a different street than usual, for we stumbled upon several shops and restaurants we hadn't noticed before.

My one great regret is not buying that precious Frida doll when I had the chance. Maybe I can just get Hubby to print and frame this photo for me, so I can hang it near my art table for inspiration!

When we spotted a restaurant called Hank's, which seemed to be hoppin' with activity, Hubby suddenly remembered that it was one a high school friend, who spent time in SMdA, had recommended. I guess you could call it Mexican-Cajun-Fusion cuisine. I'm not really sure.  All I know is that their Salmon Ceviche, with its citrus tang, bits of creamy avocado, and bright cherry tomatoes, was muy delicioso!

After dinner we finally made it back to Calle Carreo, where that very same friend claimed there was a bar called El Gato Negro that Hubby simply must go to. "But," he added, "don't let the outside scare you off." Which, of course, was enough to make me nervous, but only made my hubby more determined! Unfortunately/fortunately (depends on your point of view), we wandered up and down the street without ever spotting it.

From there it was back to El Jardin for our nightly entertainment. John got some great video footage of the strolling musicians, the kids playing with their giant torpedo-shaped balloons that could bounce and fly, and the break-dancers in the gazebo. Sadly, he can't figure out how to transfer it to me so that I can share it here on the blog!

Strolling back to our hotel we passed a wee little gift shop that appeared to have no rear wall. Instead there seemed to be a large fountain of some sort, and behind that, a garden? We went in to get a closer look. Whoa! Were we ever surprised to discover that garden was surrounded by a great little night market full of shops and stalls, where I found the perfect Happy Earrings to go with one of my Happy Blouses!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Remember all those art supplies that I put so much thought and effort into packing for our trip to San Miguel? What a waste! Pretty much the only thing I ever got around to using was a pencil and a few scraps of watercolor paper. And, the only way I managed to use those was to finally skip yoga class one morning and sneak downstairs to sketch a couple of the fountains before everyone else came down to breakfast. I don't know about you, but I find it to be very intimidating when people gather around to watch me sketch!

Not wanting to waste this beautiful, hand-bound journal I found when I first got there...

I am now scrambling around, after the fact, trying to fill a few of its pages with some of the bits and bobs I picked up here and there.

Some local art found in the Artisans' Market
Post Cards and Cash Register Receipts
Thankfully, I have my trusty point & shoot camera, which makes it easy to take pictures on the go. Plus, I did manage to jot a few notes in my regular journal each day, to help me recall details when I share these photos on the blog with you. It wasn't until I started getting comments on the blog posts like "It's as if I'm traveling with you" and "Thanks for taking us along on this trip" and "I never thought of going to San Miguel, but now it's on my list!", that I got to thinkin'. Maybe I'm not giving this blog enough credit. At first it was just my "voice" -- the one I'd finally found after a lifetime of being an introvert in "a world that can't stop talking"! Then it became a creative outlet, and a gratitude journal of sorts. Could it be a travel journal as well? One not only about travel through cities and countries, but also about our journey through life?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Enjoyed our early morning yoga again on Monday, even though we had to do it all standing up. We'd had a serious downpour during the night and the roof, and all our mats, were soaking wet! Our breakfast special that morning was oatmeal that had been cooked with cinnamon and apples, then topped with bananas and pecans. Not bad! Yogi Helen crept down early and decorated all the boiled eggs with little pictures and cheery messages. What a hoot. Then we got the bad news. One of our group members, who was just a few months out from hip replacement surgery, was being taken to the hospital. All that walking up and down hills on cobbled streets had done a number on her her new hip!

First Electric Gas Pump (even has its own historical marker!)
We left our casa at 9:30 to meet up with our Historical Walking Tour guide -- another interesting character who was a teacher and a charter pilot in past lives.

Now she volunteers her time conducting these tours to raise money for children's dental and medical care. We learned about everything from architecture...

How beautifully the various colors of canterra stone blend in La Parroquia!
Here you can see the original part of the church. The canterra facade was added much later.
to revolutions, to the reason why El Jardin is pigeon-poop-free. (It's all in how you trim the trees!)

This former nunnery is now a place to learn about art.
Once the tour was complete, Hubby and I headed off to try a little place called Don Lupe's Mexican Grill, which I had read about on Trip Advisor.

You'll never guess what we found hanging on the wall right next to the table where they seated us. This!

Apparently they decorate their walls with the names of favorite customers. When we told her that our names were John and Becky too, she promised to hang another pot for us if we ever come back.

We just might hold her to that promise, as their Grilled Shrimp Diablo and shrimp tacos were pret-ty darned delicious!

Again, I had great plans to work in my art journal that afternoon. What did I do? Take a siesta! I think part of it was the heat. Normally the highs in San Miguel this time of year are in the 70s, with afternoon rains almost daily. Instead it was getting up to 85 every day, with no clouds at all, and most places, including our hotel, had no AC. Hence the siestas.

That evening we decided to try the other restaurant tour guide Mort had recommended -- a place called Milagros. As soon as we entered the door the bartender asked "You here for Gringo Bingo? It's that way." What the heck, why not?

We decided not to have dinner there since the menu leaned heavily towards "gringo", and settled down with a bowl of popcorn, a dauber, and 10 cards each. Guess who won the very first game? No, not me for a change. Hubby! He ended up giving his prize away to our tablemate, the mother of the two girls calling the games (the nun was in charge of spinning the cage). All that mattered was that he won for once, not me, and he was feeling mighty smug!

From there we headed over to another place with a rooftop view, called Pegaso. Unfortunately, the food was pretty disappointing. Guess we should have settled for gringo fare at Milagros! From there we headed back to the Jardin, also known as San Miguel's "living room", which was becoming our nightly entertainment. It offers an endless parade of families, lovers and performers -- the best show in town! To make up for our less than stellar dinner, we ended the evening by joining the line of people waiting to get into San Agustín Cafe, an elegant little place just off the square...

whose specialty is...

Churros y Chocolate!

Finally collapsed into bed at midnight. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


On the plane to Mexico City, a handsome young flight attendant asked one of our mostly-senior-group "What kind of tour group is this?" When he was told that it was a yoga group, the young man's jaw dropped. "Whoa! Didn't see that coming!" was his reply.

Nonetheless, every morning, shortly after sunrise, about half of our group would meet up with instructor Helen and trainee Jeanne on this shaded rooftop verandah just a few steps down from our own bedroom, and the serious devotees would meet there again each evening. As if the view of San Miguel's rooftops and sky weren't breathtaking enough, we were also gifted with the sight of hot air balloons floating above us that first morning!

After yoga we met up with the rest of our group in the breakfast courtyard. Each morning there were platters of fresh fruit, house-made yogurts and granola, hard-boiled eggs, fresh juice, coffee and tea, and one "special" entree. That first day it was something that could best be described as a blueberry bread pudding. Mmmmmm.

At 10:00 that day we left our hotel for the short walk to La Biblioteca, or The Library. 

So Much Color-Madness Along the Way!
This, however, is no ordinary library. Years ago, when she realized that most of the local children had no access to books, an expatriate woman built up a collection in her own home and started lending them out. Before she knew it, lines were forming down the street and around the block -- both children and adults! So, she formed a committee to help locate and obtain this property, which had fallen into disrepair.

Not only does it have a library now, it also has a bookshop, a cafe, a theater, a children's activity room, and it offers language classes and conversation groups where students can practice what they learn. Plus they organize home and garden tours each Sunday, which is what we were there for, in order to raise money for feeding and educating children. As our tour guide Mort explained, there are a lot of people who move to San Miguel to "live like a king." They want fancy houses and cheap help to take care of them. Then there are those who have been there long enough to understand what it's really like for everyone else, and who feel they must step up and do something to help.

There are 300 homes on the tour roster, and they go to three different ones each week. Since they were taking us out to the village of Atotonilco, we only had time for two. The first was owned by an older gentleman, a former Texas Aggie, who greeted us at the door of his "hacienda" dressed as a gay caballero, and who had someone passing out tequila shots in souvenir cups once we were inside.

The Foyer

Bet you've never seen a urinal like that one, huh? But wait, there's more! He's even built a replica of the Alamo in his back yard -- and it's not a mere facade. You can open it, and go inside!

Not my cup of tea, all in all.

The next one was right in the middle of Atotonilco and was originally part of a large Hacienda that included just about everything around -- even the parroquia or parish church, which is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

This house was more my style, built in the mid-century manner, utilizing lots of natural materials.

It was after 3:00 by the time we got back to town, and we were tired, hot and hungry! Luckily, tour guide Mort had given us a couple of suggestions for lunch, which is how we ended up at Carreo, on Calle Carreo. I decided to be brave and try something I've never had before -- pollo with goat cheese and poblano sauce. Oh My! I simply must find a recipe for this.

Not only was the food delicious, they even had iced tea! Yes, I know, we too thought you could never drink the water or have any ice in Mexico, but San Miguel is a very cosmopolitan city now and, according to our tour hosts, all the nice restaurants have filtration systems, as does our hotel. I wouldn't recommend eating any street food though!

We started the day with plans to go off on our own that afternoon, but by the time we finished lunch, it was all we could do to drag ourselves back to the hotel, shower, and collapse on the bed for a siesta!

Later that evening we headed out for our dinner reservations at La Posadita, recommended by friends Heather and Marc, who were in San Miguel just a few weeks before us. They liked this rooftop restaurant so much, they ate there twice! Was it the Enchiladas Verdes, or could it have had something to do with the view?

Perhaps a bit of both!

Monday, August 10, 2015


Hubby bought this piece of "corazon" art made out of lightweight tin while we were in Mexico. His plan was to hang it above the stucco entry to the Cantina Garden when he got around to it. Meanwhile, he plopped it down right in the middle of my art table and just left it there!

In order to get it out of my way, I took it into the living room and just propped it up on a table in the corner. Fortunately for both of us, he decided it wasn't going to work on the archway because the cut-out space for the bell didn't leave enough room.

You see, I'd already decided that it was really meant to be in this color-mad corner of the living room...

and he'd have had to wrestle me to get it back!