Tuesday, 6 April 2010


 It's mid day and very hot, probably in the high 80s. We're at an altitude of about 6,000 ft and surrounded by hills. There's an old dog barking behind a grill, a black magpie screeching to its mate but no-one around on our street.
Let me take you for a walk.
Leaving Larry's we're taking a right down Calle Jakaranda. The huge tree is in full purple blossom, petals strewn over the cars and cobble stones beneath. We pass houses built in a grand colonial style, painted in shades of turquoise, terracota, cobalt, lime,ochre, yellow and tangerine. There's a few vacant spaces of wasteland.  In the background there are some shacks covered in plastic and bits of tarpaulin with a few jeeps parked alongside.  'Don't know if anyone lives there but we heard fireworks and music coming from that direction all week. Sounds like they know how to party.
We move on watching our steps in case we fall and in a few moments reach the highway. We take a left and pass a number of small garages doing repairs on the side walk, a kiosk selling newspapers and a restaurant that's supposed to serve good fish. The coffees are half the price of  in town-10pesos, about 60p, but we're not stopping.
 On our left is 'Mega' a large supermarket, where we're buying most of our provisions while we find more local stores. On the roundabout is a statue in the Soviet-realist style of a local hero carrying a massive stone slab on his back, which he used to protect himself while blasting a Spanish stronghold and winning ground in the War of Independence in the early 19th century. It looks like a metaphor for colonialism.
We'll cross the highway here. There are no traffic lights in San Miguel and pedestrians seem to have right of way, but we'd better run, or in my case limp quickly, just in case. Good! We made it!
Now, in front of us is the Mexican equivalent of a MacDonald's- 'Pollos Felix'-that sells chicken al carbon. We'll take a short cut round the back of the car park. God, what's that smell?  Look, at the publicity-Mr Chicken eating a banquet of his own children. Isn't that what leads to the equivalent of BSE back home? I feel sorry for the staff. They must be sweltering in those furry Easter chick outfits.  No, we won't eat here.
Anyway, let's take a right and we're on the main road into San Miguel de Allende. It's lined with bottle brush trees in red flower and crimson bouganvillea. What about taking a bus from here or we can carry on walking? It will take me about 40minutes as I'm slow these days, but it's only about 15minutes by bus and they're clean, frequent and cheap. The fare is 5 pesos (about 30p).
You'd rather stop for breakfast?  No problem. There's a little bar just a few metres along, up past the travelling circus. I know, don't look! the lions, leopards and tigers are in tiny cages and are paraded around town to drum up business. O.K. Maybe we won't stop here after all. Let's head on to the Institute. There's a great exhibition of contemporary Mexican art I'd like to show you. We can stop by the El Tecolote Bookshop. The staff are really friendly, there's a book on Frida Carlo I'd like to buy and we'll grab a drink in the cafe next door. Larry's recommended it.

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