Our Jubilant Return to San Miguel de Allende

After four years living on the road without a home base we have learned when to push ourselves, when to pull back, and how to recover from the vagaries and pressures of travel.   But sometimes other forces and circumstances take over and even experienced vagabonds like the Martins get caught up in schedules that are too tight.  Plane schedules (especially if you want to take advantage of mileage), vacation rental availabilities, family events and publishing schedules can smash into each other until even Tim, my planning genius, is forced to create an itinerary that would daunt people thirty years younger than we are. Then, of course, thanks to Murphy’s Law, other events can pile on and then the plans that were overly ambitious in the first place  become even more rigorous.

Boy, did we have a great time at the NYTimes Travel Show!
Boy, did we have a great time at the NYTimes Travel Show!

That just about describes our  experience in late January.  We went to New York City in late January to appear with Tom Hale, vice president at HomeAway.com, speaking about the joys of vacation rentals, how to chuck the hotel and really enjoy yourself.  It went very well and we had a chance to see local pals and have a few excellent meals, which is always one of our top priorities.  Then the blizzard chatter started and our plans changed abruptly.  Thanks to Tim’s quick work we were on the last plane out of JFK before the blizzard alert shut the airport on January 27. Sitting on the tarmac while they de-iced the plane,  knowing that if we didn’t get to California on time we’d miss our flight to Mexico made us pretty cranky.  Believe me, there was a collective sigh from the passengers and crew when that baby left the ground!

Boarding  the last plane out of JFK before the blizzard.  This kind of drama we can do without!
This was NOT such a good time!

Our quick turnaround in California allowed us just one day to switch wardrobes, kiss everyone goodbye for the second time in a week, and head for San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  We were exhausted, frazzled, rattled and I was certainly cross by the time we touched down at Leon airport. But the minute I stepped off the rickety portable stairway and inhaled the distinct fragrance, Mexican high desert air mixed with just a hint of jet fuel and a dash of Mexican cooking, I didn’t care how tough the week had been.  We were HOME!

On the last flight out before the blizzard.  Check out the gorgeous new TravelSmith luggage.  Great stuff!
This woman is on her way to Mexico with her gorgeous new luggage from TravelSmith. How dare she be grumpy.

Tim and I had worried about whether San Miguel  changed too much in our absence, if the people had become less genteel, if the town itself had deteriorated because of the vagaries of governments, economy and criminal influences.  We wondered if we’d still feel safe, relaxed and happy there.  Every fear dissipated in the first hours of our arrival.  San Miguel is still one of the most pleasurable spots on earth to us. The fresh mountain air, the warmth of its people, the luscious Mexican palette – terra cotta, ochre, brilliant blue, vibrant yellows all punctuated with bougainvillea and geraniums, lime and banana leaf trees, with the ripple of a thousand fountains that calm and refresh, had not changed at all.`

The gorgeous city with La Parroquia, a gothic-style church right in the middle next to the jardin, had changed very little, at least on the surface.

We were floored when we reached our house.  We knew from the HomeAway.com listing that the house would be lovely and the neighborhood quiet, but we really weren’t prepared for the lovely garden and the two convenient work spaces.  Tim and I each have a place to write without chatting (yes, after all this time we still have a lot to say!) and interrupting each other.  The furnishings are wonderfully comfortable and attractive, and best of all, Judith Sosa works for the owner and comes almost every day. She is a sunny person who is a pleasure to know and she is a heavenly cook.  I told her the other day that I didn’t care whether or not the house was clean as long as she made some more soups and chillies nogada for us.  We gratefully consume her enchiladas, chillies rellenos, salsa, and guacamole and I promise to share recipes I pry out of her.

Here is a video of part of our house which I hope you’ll enjoy.  We’ll show you the garden another time.  If you’re not too bored by the time you finish that you may like to see the photos that follow.

  • Our house was even more wonderful than we had hoped!
  • Our wonderful kitchen!
  • My favorite spot. Curling up in this chair is like heaven.
  • The pool is too coo to dip into, but it looks wonderful and has a waterfall at the end!
  • The blue structure is the pool house, where I love to work. It's warm there, too.
  • Tim and Judith Sosa, our terrific housekeeper taste her fish and veggies wrapped in banana leaves. Divine!
  • Here is the sitting room attached to the bedroom. It's full of light in the morning. So cheerful!

After just a few days we managed to see several dear friends, consume an enormous amount of excellent food, and find our way back to favorite spots around town. We  also fell into the Mexican rhythm we love so well.  Our sense of urgency is at a low, low level, and our sense of fun is ratcheted to high.  This is just as it should be when you say “yes” to everything and practice the “postpone nothing” philosophy.

Here are a few photos of our wanderings around this lovely place.  We hope you’ll come visit it soon.

  • The jardin, the heart of San Miguel. If you're lonely you can walk down to the garden and in five minutes you'll be chatting away with someone.
  • The gorgeous city with La Parroquia, a gothic-style church right in the middle next to the jardin.
  • Hair color happens everywhere. I got very lucky and a friend found Miriam for me. She did a great job!
  • Tim waiting for his lunch at Hank's, a New Orleans themed bar and restaurant.
  • Yummy fish tacos at Cafe Lavanda.
  • More of Hank's. This is the scene of many a happy afternoon and evening!
  • Luscious Vietnamese vegetable rolls at Chamonix.
  • Our darling friend Bian Care. We have an adventure planned for next week with him that you will LOVE! It involves fish and feet. Stay tuned.
  • Look at all these colorful things we want to take home, but can't!

I apologize for such a lengthy absence from this site and promise to send you many more stories and photos from this magical place!  Hasta pronto!


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