Monday, January 16, 2012

Daily Life in San Miguel de Allende

Here's our new slideshow of photos from San Miguel:

Hope you like them!

We can't believe we have been here almost three weeks. Finally recovered from my bout of San Miguel "gripe" (sore throat and congestion), I'm back into the swing of things full steam and enjoying every moment.  The town still holds much charm for us, and we love the slower pace of life in Mexico.  Our neighbors are friendly and it's great to start out on our jaunts into el centro greeted with "Hola," or "Buenos dios..."

Days begin with sounds: the doves cooing on our rooftop, the garbage man hitting metal on metal, like a pair of musical symbols. Garbage service here is free three days a week.  We can hear  the local school children walking by on their way to the Primeria (Elementary School) up the street and the rich timbre of church bells from San Antonio church just a short block away.  There are different street noises for all the services:  the water bottle delivery man blows a whistle, the gas guy bangs on the door to see if we need more propane  and  the local herrero(iron smith) calls out for scrap metal through his loudspeaker on his truck. Occasionally a man with a donkey comes by selling herbs.  On Fridays we hear a loud tap on our metal front door downstairs around eleven o'clock.  It's Yalanda, the flower seller.  She carries a big basket filled with all sorts of beautiful fresh flowers.  Last week I bought a bouquet of orange and pink lillies for 40 pesos (about $3).   They're still adorning our coffee table in the.sala (our living room).
The Mexicans are entrepreneurial and the informal economy thrives while the formal one shows signs of slowing down.  Restaurants seem more empty, real estate values have dropped considerably and food prices have gone up. While they are still cheaper for us than at home, it's hard on the Mexican families.  Good jobs are getting more scarce.  

The most joy for us comes from the simple pleasures of people watching.  Yesterday, walking across the central plaza I watched a beautiful little girl chasing the pigeons.  Each time she would sneak up on one of course it would take flight to her delight. She'd throw her hands up as if trying to sprout wings herself.

Both Gary and I are enjoying the many cultural offerings here.  We have been attending the weekly lectures and film offerings of the Global Justice group.  Last week it was a lecture entitled "The End of the Middle Class in America," presented by Jeff Faux, a nationally known economist.  He has a new book coming out this summer The Servant Class.  His talk was excellent though sobering as he presented his views on our economic downfall and what the future holds.  Following on the film we saw the previous day, "The End of  Suburbia" we felt a bit gloomy.  The gloom was lifted by a night out dancing to a superb Salsa band with friends we met here two years ago.  We attended a music concert which was a fundraiser for a local orphanage of abandoned young girls from 4 to 14 years of age run by some generous Catholic nuns. The gringo community has done much to raise awareness of their needs for books, art classes, and scholarships for continuing education.   Sunday we hiked up in El Charco, the amazing Botanical Garden and Canyon where one can see flocks of migrating birds hanging out in the renewed wetland.

I'm involved in a weekly Literary Sala which presents interesting readings by local authors, and recently, a Video presentation of interviews with the celebrated Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.  She will be one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming 7th Annual San Miguel International Writers Conference to which I will be going in February.  In preparation I have been trying to work a little each day on my novel and a couple of short stories, also.  I'm really looking forward to hearing the other speakers as well: author, social critic and political activist, Naomi Wolfe, celebrated Mexican writer, Elena Poniatowska and well known Native American poet and musician, Joy Harjo.  I will be taking several intensive writing workshops over the four days of the conference as well.

Gary is enjoying the lectures and films, photographing the interesting and beautiful street scenes and doing some of his woodcarving.  He also brought his uke down and tries to practice a little a few times a week.  Our friend, Luisa, a San Miguel resident for over twenty years has come over the past two Sundays to join us for dinner and then to watch the excellent Masterpiece theatre production of Downton Abbey, Part II.  We were pleased to discover we have a large flat screen TV in our casita and cable access which allows us to watch PBS from Florida!  What a luxery---we don't even have cable at home and this series has caught our fancy since we watched Part I last Fall. The acting is superb with a grand cast of characters and interesting historical references to pre and post World War I England.

So, you can see there is never a dull moment in San Miguel!