Monday, October 7, 2013

Back in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Hope you enjoy reading about my most recent adventure: driving with my husband, Gary, all the way to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico from Oregon, USA.

After spending two fun months, July to September, at our new cottage on the Oregon Coast, we packed up the car, (check it out here)full to the brim and headed to south of the border.  We left  on September 16th planning on taking ten days to make the 2,700 mile journey.

The trip was long but made shorter by the various stops we made with friends and family along the way in California. Once south of LA it began to take on a more boring texture. Though the weather was not as unbearably hot as we had expected, averaging between 80-90 degrees, the days of driving on I-10E  seemed long and sometimes uninteresting. Listening to an audio taped story helped pass the time. We made picnic stops each day to stretch out legs and fill our stomachs with some good food, resisting the junk food one finds everywhere.  The Arizona scenery was quite beautiful in places with tall flat mesas, red rock and unusual geological formations from Parker on I-10 E  by Phoenix and then through Tempe. We spent the night in at a small inexpensive motel  in Tempe near Arizona State University. 
Arizona scenery on our way  to Phoenix 
Our long highway East 

The next day we continued, crossing into New Mexico and stopping that night at one of our  favorite spots along the way, Las Cruces on the NM and Texas border. We checked into a La Quinta Inn and had time to check out the old historical section, called Mesilla, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner in an old west inn with a lot of history behind it's beautiful adobe architecture.  We strolled the streets at dusk and enjoyed the local sites which surrounded a small square with a gazebo, like we see in Mexico, in front of the typical church. Small adobe shops, taverns and cafes surrounded the central plaza and there was even a shop named after the legendary Billy the Kid.  Supposedly he was tried and sentenced to hang here. 

Bar in 0ld Hotel in La Mesilla 

The old Mesilla Church 

Modern day cowboy with a leaf blower 
Typical NM scenery 

From Las Cruses we crossed into West Texas, expecting the worst part of the journey to ensue. Surprisingly we found much of the scenery quite interesting; the long dry stretches were dotted with some high, rolling plateaus, even some green vegetation from recent rains. Our goal was to get to Marfa, a town which was put on the map when the movie "Giant" was filmed there in 1956, starring Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor and my teenage heartthrob, James Dean. We stayed at the legendary old hotel where the cast stayed while filming, Hotel Paisano. It's been beautifully renovated and created a gentle repast from our last eight eight days of driving.  We enjoyed the quiet broad open streets, no parking meters and a charming bar/cafe where we had drinks on a patio and a delicious dinner. The next day we visited the galleries, and the site of artist Donald Judd's installations. He came to Marfa, escaping the East Coast, NY art scene,and the commercialism, which he hated in the seventies. He  made his mark on this town as well as a number of amazing outdoor and indoor installations. It was fascinating visiting the old Military Fort Russell which he purchased and where his art is displayed with other 20th century installation artists. 

Driving into Marfa, Texas---not too busy!

This is cowgirl country and I enjoyed this poster in the Ladies room at the Gage Hotel in Marathon on Hwy. 90
We had breakfast at this small cafe up the street from the Gage Hotel after we left Marfa and enjoyed talking to a couple who love living in this small town. 

 Couldn't resist incluing this photo of James Dean, which hangs large and prominent in the  small room off the lobby of the Paisano Hotel, where we could sit in big, comfy leather armchairs and watcht the four hour movie, "Giant"--needless to say we only watched a mall portion, but it did bring back memories 
Hotel Paisano  in Marfa, TX, where the cast for "Giant" once stayed 
 From Marfa we took the locals' suggestions and continued our journey southeast by Hwy. 90, a two lane good road through the West Texas pecan growing area, and small rural towns like Marathon, and Alpine. We loved stopping at the old Gage Hotel, in Marathon, now totally renovated and quite posh with it's beautiful collection of western memorabilia. The owner wanted one piece in a museum that was closing and when they said he would have to buy the whole collection, he did, and installed it in the Gage.  Everywhere, we looked there were interesting old artifacts of the West, including several original Remington prints an drawings. Alpine too provided photo ops with its beautiful large murals in the center of this small town, once known for it's minor league baseball team and stadium.  Some of the major leagues even played there.  

The mural in Alpine welcoming to this charming little West Texas town

One of Alpine's beautiful new murals.
From Alpine we drove on to Del Rio right on the border with Mexico, a not very picturesque town. We arrived when it was still light and checked into a La Quinta Inn. We were tired and not hungry, so just fixed a "picnic dinner" in our room. It was important to get up early to cross the border. We were getting a bit nervous about the whole thing. Fortunately, getting a very early start the next morning to cross the border, all went well. We didn't have any glitches and the much feared inspections we were warned by friends we may have where everything can be taken out of our car and placed on the roadside for us to re-pack after inspections, didn't occur.  After an hour and half stop to get our automobile permits and visas, we were off.
Beautiful scenery along the highway just after crossing the border into Mexico

Along the road we often saws goats and their herders, heads covered with old serapes in the heat of the day

We knew we were in Mexico when we saw this at our first small town
The highways in Mexico are very good and we whizzed through small towns with their colorful hot pink, green and yellow stucco buildings, PEMEX gas stations and roadside stands selling junk food. The toll roads were intermittant but the best we could ask for. Few cars traveled  along them  (cost being a factor); we paid anywhere from 90 pesos ($8 US) down to 25 pesos ($2) expensive by Mexico standards.  We made great time on these roads and ended up reaching our goal, arriving at the town of  Matehuela before sundown. Though not fancy, it provided shelter for our car and a good bed to sleep on with bath and shower

Every state has it's welcome sign

The bright yellow flowers gracing the sides of the roads coming into San Miguel de Allende

The next day we made the quick three hour ride into San Miguel de Allende, enjoying the lush green and bright yellow flowers edging the roads. Arriving in our colonial town, rumbling along on the cobblestone and familiar streets to our casa was a good ending to our long journey. We were happy to be back and mostly to find everything intact at our house, thanks to the efforts of our property manager, Benjamin Martinez. Save for a couple of roof leeks that developed during the rainy season all was in order and our pretty patio garden looked well cared for.  We'll stay here until next March when we have to leave the country to return our car. One is not allowed to keep a US licensed vehicle in Mexico beyond a tourist visa of six months. We'll stay back in Oregon for the summer and fall and return late next year by plane.  Living in two countries is fun and stimulating, though sometimes a challenge, remembering what we have left where.

When we saw these signs we knew we were getting close to our destination 


 We were glad to drive up to the gates to our little community of six houses, Villas del Tesoro, where we have wonderful Mexican and Gringo neighbors. We were happy to learn that the two houses across the street from us each just recently sold, one to a Mexican family from Leon and the other to an American woman. So we will have new neighbors. Always something new going on in San Miguel.

 For now, I am concentrating on getting my novel published by December. I encourage you all to check out my new website and blog in about a month. This will be my final post on this site. I will let you know when you can visit my blog and hear about my book at my new site, There you will learn more about the book, launching parties and how you can get it on Amazon.  Hasta luego!

Please Note: this will be my last post at this site. Watch for my new website with the same name. I'll let you know when it's up and running on I will have an announcement about my novel's publication and plug-in's where you can order it through Amazon, hopefully by December, in time for the holidays.