I am back in San Miguel de Allende for awhile in spite of my wanderlust. And, poco a poco, things are getting back to normal in this magical town. After a challenging year, the mariachi bands are playing in the main square, and Chillangos (tourists from Mexico City) are standing in line for churros and street tacos, almost like the good old days. It feels strangely safe here. Masks are not optional, tests are cheap and easy to get, and so much of life in San Miguel takes place outside in the nearly-perfect summer weather.
Safety is good but I keep returning because San Miguel has a special magic. It’s charming and friendly and historic, yes. But there is something else here that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Although I am a big fan of novelty, I find myself craving the walks I take every day on roads I have traveled literally hundreds of times. Each time, I am surprised by something special. At first, I thought these something specials reflected the artistic community here and appeals to tourists. That’s surely part of it. But really, the details are expressions of love. And it’s the love that makes San Miguel different.
You could fill a very large book with San Miguel’s loving detail, but here are a few examples of what you could see in just one short walk.
The visuals seem to represent something deeper. Over bowls of soup and scoops of guacamole the other day, my friend Bonnie reminded me of what I love here most — a culture that values family and community ahead of material success, that values kindness and enjoyment and mutual respect. And I have an immigrant community of English speakers who value these values — and share their love of the arts and literature and two-for-one margarita nights.
And then there’s the 12-year old who found my phone and kept it charged while he waited for me to call. The waiter who returned 400 pesos in change a week after my friend left it on the table. The police officers who smile. The taxi drivers who praise the weather while they’re sitting in traffic. Other stuff….
….pequenos milagros y corazones grandes.