We embarked on St. Paul's seven-day,
six-night Day of the Dead tour. It felt like
a holiday, where we spent time with friends
and attended events. We were never rushed or
bused around. We were scattered around town
in private homes, yet not far from the center,
and our hosts, graciously offering us a key to
their homes, made us feel like visiting family.
Most events were within walking distance.
Days went by quickly. The first morning, the sun came up with a golden brilliance. I went
out in the crisp, fresh air and vacant streets for a vigorous hike. From my street, I could see
the morning sun silhouetting a cross at the top of the hill. I grabbed my camera and headed
east. I huffed and puffed; with each step the street seemed to rise vertically like Taylor in
San Francisco. At 6500 feet, you get winded quickly, but what a view of San Miguel in the
sun's first light. Shadows cupped San Miguel while the gothic church, the centerpiece of the
city, mirrored the sun's glory.
After breakfast with our respective host family, we took a walking tour of San Miguel de
Allende. We started at the Episcopal Church, which is just a block from Instituto Allende.
The Instituto, a refurbished country estate once owned by the Count of Canal, is now an art,
photography and language school founded by Stirling Dickenson and friends. The building
is a colonial beauty, with arches, colonnades, patios and a terrace restaurant. It has one of the
best views of downtown San Miguel. Stirling's Instituto Allende and the Bellas Artes School
were the original magnets for the expat community that is currently estimated at 11,000 full-
and part-time residents. You don't have to speak much Spanish to enjoy San Miguel de Al-
We visited La Parroquia, the magnificent Gothic church that I saw in the morning sunlight.
It was designed and constructed by Zeferino Gutierrez, an indigenous master builder, who