Off the bus and into the skillet. That's a mixed metaphor, but so be it. Travel is for fun,
surprises and adventure. Sometimes the best experience comes with a change in plans.
San Miguel de Allende is south of San Luís Potosí. It has a large expat community and is
known for art, culture and Spanish language schools. I thought I'd try school for a month
and check out the cultural programs.
I signed up for an intensive Spanish course that included room and board with a Mexican
family. It was cheaper to pay tuition and stay with a family than to stay in a hotel without
going to school. Tuition, room and board: $49 per day.
I arrived on a Friday, just in time for the annual charity Dine-Around where cocktails,
dinner and dessert gave the guests an inside view of fabulous homes in San Miguel de
Allende. I also arrived in time for the Cinema Shorts and Documentaries that were being
shown in a variety of locations in town. Then there was the bullfight with novilleros (pro-
fessionals in training) on Sunday, with all the pomp, ceremony and music, but it's not a
spectacle for everyone.
There was a Familiarization Trip for Writers. I was invited to cocktails and dinner held in
the Biblioteca (San Miguel's library), which is a cultural center for films, music and paint-
ing. The second week the calendar changed from Cinema to Chamber Music. Bellas Artes,
in the Miguel Mala Auditorium offered an evening of arias with Fernando Nunez, pianist,
and Gabriela Perales, soprano.
But my major joy was the Jardín, San Miguel's plaza where mariachis play nightly and
the Tuna plays on weekends, confirming that Mexico is music.
San Miguel de Allende is an old city. They celebrate Day of the Dead, but there should be
a new festival … the Day of the Almost Dead. Oldsters are everywhere and retirees are
moving in. From the balcony of the Teatro Angela Peralta, looking down on the orchestra
section, the $40 seats, there is a sea of white heads.
Guanajuato is known for its macabre display of mummies. These are cadavers, whose fam-
ily or friends failed to pay for a lifetime tomb (strange choice of words, should be an etern-
al tomb). On being disinterred from their “last resting place” they were found to have been
naturally mummified by mineral water seeping into their crypt and are now on view.