Returning to San Miguel de Allende after an absence of seven years is an interesting experience. We are staying in the same casita where we lived for almost a year back in 2008-2009, so in a way it is as if we never left. We are in Centro, behind La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, San Miguel’s parish church and the community’s most recognizable landmark.
Some of the more noticeable changes are the increase in the number of tourists, mostly Mexicans, trendy shops and restaurants, new hotels and cars. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, the start of the weekend, and as we entered the heart of the community, it seemed as if we had been ensnared in a giant traffic jam. What makes this fascinating is that there are no traffic signals or signs in the historic parts of town, thus drivers must compromise at intersections, respecting others in order to prevent accidents. Congress could learn a lot from their example.
San Miguel has also become a popular wedding destination. On our first afternoon we saw, or heard, six wedding celebrations. These are colorful events that include the ringing of church bells, musicians, giant dancing figures and intoxicated revelers parading with the bride and groom through the streets surrounding La Parroquia. Some even conclude with fireworks. San Miguel is one of those places that loves any excuse for a party.
There is still some of old Mexico left. Recently, as I walked home from the grocery store, I approached an old Mexican man walking slowly with a cane. The sidewalks here are narrow and composed of gray and pink stone blocks, the streets of cobblestones, so walking is not always easy. Drawing near, I stepped aside. As I cleared the way for him, his face brighten with a big smiled and he said in a warm and friendly tone, “Adios Amigo” (“Go with God my friend”). It was a simple exchange of courtesies, a sharing of respect that made the day a little nicer for both of us I suspect. Interestingly, the following afternoon I again stepped aside for two Gringo women. They, however, did not even acknowledge my existence.
© 2016 David Lee McMullen