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san miguel de allende w/ photos
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These are not necessarily going to be in order, because hey it's been a _whole_ week since we got back and the mind plays its tricks. I'll try and keep it in sequence as much of possible. But the details will probably thin out as my fingers get tired.

Basically, it was a great, uber-relaxing holiday and San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful, charming town, where one can get the most amazing food and spa treatments, both (for the most part) dirt cheap. I took two cameras, our digital and my Minolta -- we haven't gotten the film developed yet, so these are just shots taken with the digital.

We arrived after dark, and it was chilly but still far warmer than the snow we left behind. Our driver (more about him later) blared Alannis Morissette (sp?) at us, but still it'd been a long day so we were able not to wretch. It was a Saturday evening so the medium to small towns we drove through were hopping. There were roadside foodstands set up every 10 feet from each other, packed with children and dogs and adults.

The most distinctive thing about San Miguel are its narrow cobbled streets lined with interesting doors -- which could, and do, literally have anything behind them. What is behind them is rarely observable from outside. Scott and Justine took us to one door and then had us stand on a jutting piece of stone wall to peer into a barred window -- it was this beautiful garden, not attached to a house, just a garden. Sometimes you get a peak inside and it's a ruin, keeping its secret in the middle of the city. The doors themselves are amazing as well, thick and wooden often with ornate design in the woodwork or distinctive doorknockers. The street Justine and Scott's rented house was on was a perfect example of the quintessential San Miguel street, though with mercifully smooth stones despite its steeply sloping grade. The house itself, amazing.

Here's a picture of the garden; the blue wall is part of the main house and the yellow wall is the other guest house bedroom which was opposite the one we stayed in (mosquito netting! yay!).

We were swept upstairs and given a tour -- upstairs kitchen, downstairs kitchen, master bed and bath and sitting area, the upper garden and the amazing veranda off the living room. Then we had the first couple of many bottles of Veuve Clicquot and the best guacamole I've ever had period, the end, made by the magnificent Luz and with just the right amount of heat to it.

Here's a picture of the living room just at sunset with evening light pouring in. This was where we hung out when we got home most nights and where Justine and I did planning work for the book we're working on together.

The next morning we got up and went to a wonderful white tablecloth place for breakfast, passing through a lovely garden and down beautiful winding stone steps to get there. On Scott's recommendation, we both had the house specialty -- huevos el diablo. Basically, a yummy concoction of eggs and cheese and chilis that comes out to you still bubbling in a skillet. Yum. Then we took a walk through a flower show being hosted in the nearby park (which has wide walking trails which the vendors filled with their wares). It was something else to see tulips in February.

There were all these adorable little cactii in cut off bottom halfs of beer cans.

And we swung by to see La Parrochia in daylight (we had gone out to see it the night before, and had mariachis sing to us) -- a giant gothic church which is the landmark of San Miguel de Allende.

Here's one portion of the side view.

And here's Christopher on a street just after breakfast.

The rest of the day was mostly spent with Justine and Scott trying to kill us with the walk in the boiling sun up the very steepness to the jardin botanico outside of town, which has an amazing cactus preserve. (Yes, yes, it was worth it once we got there.) I took loads of pictures there, but all on the real camera -- I believe Christopher plans to post some from a return trip he and Scott made. I got sun poisoning, which hit right after dinner at this wonderful Italian place (good wine, great tomato and fresh mozarella salad -- the cheeses, especially for this particular dish, which is one of my favorites so I tried it everywhere that had it, were really exceptional; they had a very assertive flavor, more so than what you usually experience with the standard mozarrella de bufalo), so the rest of that night we just took it easy and hung outside in the garden.

On Monday, our second full day, we stuck close to home. Justine and I spent the whole day working on a chapter outline and the details for our book, the nonfiction project some of you may remember me mentioning in passing awhile back. Scott and Christopher hung out on the veranda brainstorming about one of the two book ideas Christopher has up in the air right now. Neither of us can remember what we did that night and I can see that about now is when my sequencing is going to start to break down.

I believe I was using the film camera more heavily for the next couple of days, so apologies.

One night, the night I got an hour and a half massage from the woman with the hands of steel at Casa Sierra Nevada Spa, Luz stayed after work to drink with us. Here's a picture of Justine, me and Luz. Isn't Luz amazingly beautiful? She's funny as hell too. Even if she did complement me by telling me I looked like the Bride of Chucky and call me a gringa.

Oh, and what we were looking at before we got drunk and took that photo was this (only at sunset, but don't be picky).

One day we went to a nearby art school. The arts are a thriving part of San Miguel de Allende and many people who come take classes in some artform or in Spanish at the various schools. At this one in particular, the name of which escapes me at the moment, we saw two things I was particularly enamored of.

The first was this chupacabra mural (Luz assures it is real and has made its presence known in San Miguel de Allende)...

The second was this charming puppet I saw this Japanese girl working on. She was actually working on two and sat this one down and I snapped a quick, inconspicuous photo. Horror movie central, huh?

We went back to this particular school to see a gallery show of artwork made from handmade paper that was for the most part exquisite (though it prompted the observation that visual artists shouldn't write text).

Our next to last night in town Scott's dad and friend Betty came and Luz cooked for a dinner party for all of us. (Yummmm....) We also got a huge surprise from Justine and Scott, who had hired an eight-piece mariachi band to serenade us all for an hour -- including the drunken mariachi song during which they all dance TWICE. Through sheer coincidence we ended up with the same mariachi troupe who sang for us our very first night.

Justine and I enjoying mariachis...

And all four of us with the troupe...

That was truly one of those fabulous evenings, filled with food and laughter and music, that I will count among my favorites. I'm lucky though -- it's a long list.

And last, I do believe, snapped on our very last night, the Parrochia at night...

We learned an important lesson, leaving pre-dawn, that I forgot to put in my 10 things list. But it's very important: Always ask your driver where he is taking you, especially if you're on the way to the airport. Getting home was exciting. And we got to visit a whole 'nother state of Mexico in the opposite direction of the airport, making it to the ticketing counter just under the wire.

And I believe that is it. Thank you, Justine and Scott. Now, wine. If any of youse guys want to see the film pictures, I'm sure I'll have them developed and in a handy book by Wiscon.

earworm: "Mexican Moon," Concrete Blonde (yeah, yeah, but it really was stuck in my head the whole week)

rec: huevos el diablo

namecheck: Luz, Luz, Luz!

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