Saturday, July 02, 2011

lazarus in san miguel

I am dead to the world.

Or I was.

My nine hour drive yesterday from Melaque to San Miguel de Allende was the equivalent of driving from Portland to Montana.  With about the same gain in altitude.

Mexico’s toll road system (and that was by far the majority of the drive) are a joy.  They are easily the equivalent of Germany’s autobahns.  Well-engineered.  Well-maintained.  Rapidly-traveled.  And with the number of Mercedes, BMWs, Audis, and Volvos whizzing past at 100 miles per hour, it would be easy to imagine I was on my way to Stuttgart for a purchase.

I got away from Melaque at 6:30 -- almost in time to avoid another rain-induced power failure.  And was on my way in the dark for the first hour of driving.  Around 3:30, I pulled into San Miguel to find one of the world’s best hostesses.  Our own Babs.

During my month stay here, I will publish more photographs of this lovely casita she has rented me.  It is almost twice as large as my place in Melaque.  And the subtle hand of a professional interior designer is everywhere.  Babs is a multi-talented woman.  But we all know that from her blog.

After settling in, I had dinner with another blog friend -- Kim of Boston.  He just happened to be visiting San Miguel for the first time, with his friend from Mexico City.

Kim and I have met before -- when I visited Mexico City in February.  But I had never met his friend.  The three of us knew the logistics were going to be difficult.  Kim has learned a good deal of Spanish.  His friend speaks a bit of English.  And we all know my Spanish ranks right up there with a three year old.  We wanted to avoid a re-enactment of the classic Lucy episode where everything gets translated back and forth to comic effect.

We spoke slowly and patiently in Spanish and English.  And it worked.  I know it worked because we quickly abandoned the safe topics of the weather and tourism.  Kim is involved in the financial world.  His friend is a Mexican high school teacher of literature and Spanish.  So, there was no reasion for us to let our minds sit fallow.  Small chat was not going to be the botanos of the evening. 

Instead, we had a rather invigorating discussion on Mexican and American politics, the continuing impact of the Mexican Revolution, the vagaries of electrical economics in Mexico City, the Mexican character with a rather long discussion on how Jorge Castañeda uses the term “individualism,” and modern film.  They were not topics for people who were adverse to taking on unfamiliar words.

The evening was over far too fast.  But I needed to get back to the house while it was a bit light.  San Miguel's hill streets are as windy as those of Guanajuato and as steep as San Francisco’s.

After huffing and puffing up the hill (a month of this and my right ankle may actually be back in shape), I was ready for bed.

After all of that, I thought I would fall fast asleep.  Apparently, my mind had other ideas because I ended up (subconsciously) in a strange prime minister’s question time about the various virtues of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Pátzcuaro.  Somewhere around 2 or 3, I finally drifted off to sleep.

Babs had told me the days recently had been rainy and the mornings cold.  There is no doubt about the rain.  It rained all night long.  But the morning was blissfully cool.  It felt like a spring morning in Oxford rather than a summer morning in Mexico.  After the heat of Melaque, it was a pleasant relief.

I jumped in the shower, closed the shower curtain – and found this.

A mother scorpion.  That is not a growth on her back, it is her family brood.  After she was so patient to show off her family to me, I was rather rude by shoe-ing off both her and her young-uns into what ever afterlife scorpions may have.

It was a good reminder that checking clothing and shoes is not just a
cliché from safari movies.

I am now off to explore San Miguel.  Already I have a far closer connection with the place than I did with my brief Stay in February.

And there is no doubt that personal relationships –- Babs, Kim, his friend, but probably not the scorpion -- are making all the difference this time.


tancho said...

Glad you made it ok. I am always amazed at how good the toll roads are. I would even support something like that in the states, like in California. Caltrans certainly can't do anything correct anyway.  Check out the BBQ rib joint on the main drag if you get a hankerin for burgers and beef. Have fun! Give Babs a hug for us!

Steve Cotton said...

Third world countries, like California, could learn a lot from Mexican roads.

I am not much of a rib fan.  But if I need a burger, I know where to go.

Babsofsanmiguel said...

Tancho, do you mean Longhorn BBQ?  It has good brisket sandwiches, great ribs and on Thursday night a filet mignon, salad and baked potato for 99 pesos.  A real treat - I do confess it has been at least six months since I've been there but, in the interest of exposing Steve to our culinary gems, I might need to take him there on Thursday.

Babsofsanmiguel said...

Steve, thanks for all the compliments - geeeeez.  Sorry about the "Mama Scorpion".  Course if I had seen it I would not have looked closed enough to see her brood.  I just close my eyes and swat it dead..........

tancho said...

 Yep, that's the place, only hassle is the parking sometimes. Decent burgers, great cole slaw, really was the first time we had super ribs SOB.

Steve Cotton said...

Life is good.

Steve Cotton said...

You are most welcome.  But you cannot believe for a moment I would have passed up a photo opportunity for the readers.

Rick said...

Steve, I have found San Miguel to be a stimulating and enchanting town. I feel that the gringo element has been important to it's development as an arts community and the locals have gained a lot from the cultural mix. 
Enjoy your stay and dance to the music -

Felipe Zapata said...

Nine hours behind the wheel? Ouch! I gotta wonder: What was the hurry? Had I been in your place, I would have driven to Ajijic and spent the night, perhaps two nights with a day sandwiched in between to get a look at that place. Then on to San Miguel the following day, arriving not so pooped. But perhaps you are becoming a bit Mexican because when a Mexican has a driving destination, he goes with a vengeance.

I have seen Babs' Casita rental. It passes spectacular. You are fortunate.

Laurie Matherne said...

Friends do make the difference. Enjoy your time. Kill more scorpions. Eat well. 

Steve Cotton said...

I had a great time with a group of expatriates tonight.  I bet there is a blog post there somewhere.

Steve Cotton said...

If I did not have the drive back scheduled so quickly, I might have done that.  I may do somehing similar on the drive back up.

A lot of my driving habits come from my father.  When we were headed somewhere, we just went until we got there.

Steve Cotton said...

I ate greart tonight -- and with some old and new friends.

John Calypso said...

Looking forward to lots of reports. A hug from us to Babs and Billie as well.

Steve Cotton said...

Done and done.

Steve Cotton said...

The homes of San Miguel certainly set it apart from most Mexican cities I have seen.  If a person is interested in living here (and has cash in hand), now would be the time to buy.