San Miguel

Bird Box

If you are a Norteno living in San Miguel de Allende, you either know Susan Page or you will at some point. Susan put San Miguel on the literary map when she founded the San Miguel Writer’s Conference in 2004. She and her husband, Mayer, also travel all over Mexico to collect Mexican folk art. This is the story of a wooden box I saw in one of their galleries.

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Ekphrasis

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci

When I’m traveling, I love finding unexpected connections between people and places and ideas. Like Ekphrasis — an ancient Greek thing that I learned about in Mexico for an event sponsored by Americans. (If, like most people, you haven’t been following along, I’m an American in Greece on my way back to Mexico). Ekphrasis is a literary work that’s about or inspired by a piece of art. Like everything Greek, the idea of ekphrasis goes deeper than that. But to keep things simple, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is ekphrasic because the story is built around Leonardo’s paintings, including “Vitruvian Man.” John Keats’ poem, “Ode on A Grecian Urn” is also ekphrasic.

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Dia De Los Muertos — Celebrating the Dead and the Living

An ofrenda at San Miguel’s Juan de Dios market

If you’ve seen Disney’s “Coco,” you know at least a little about Mexico’s Dia de Los Muertos. Day of the Dead celebrates the loved ones we have lost because remembering them keeps them alive. Here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, it’s a time of traditions that date from the time of the Aztec empire — as well as some modern adaptations.

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The Mojigangas Are Back, Baby!

Mojigangas are the giant puppets that prowl the San Miguel streets

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.

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Puerto Rico: Not What I Had Planned

San Juan musician in front of Puerto Rico’s flag

Ok so I was in Louisiana for a month, where I felt like I was in a book I should write (haha, I am writing it) and then I went home for a week and from there to Puerto Rico. Y’all know that Puerto Rico is the United States right? Incredible beaches and jungles, paper towels to mop up the hurricane damage, and everything else that comes with colonization. It’s shameful what the US has taken from Puerto Rico, which is an actual book — Naomi Klein’s The Battle for Paradise. PR is also a destination place for throngs of 20-something mainland Americans who want to party. I didn’t know this when I decided to spend six weeks in PR in an apartment on the beach….And I would have stayed for six weeks if the water and power in my apartment hadn’t mysteriously gone out two hours after I arrived.

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A Little Art From My Friends

In 1980, an aging Yemeni woman living in a Palestinian village was involuntarily relocated to a bland immigrant camp. She was an artist and felt stifled by the white walls of her new house, so she bought cans of paint and, over several years, covered her white walls with the rich motifs of Yemei embroidery. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/afias-house-shlomi-israel Her project got her through a difficult time, and it is wondrous.

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The Angels in Mexico

Yesterday was a normal day here in San Miguel de Allende, although more obviously normal than usual, in a good way. I am used to aspects of this culture related to patience and kindness and honesty.  Cars stop for you to cross no matter how safely they could go first. People on the street make a point of quietly greeting you or smiling. It is more likely that a vendor will chase you down the street to give you the six pesos you left behind than to overcharge you.

But yesterday was an unusual bunch of goodness.

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Barrio Guadalupe, San Miguel’s Wild Child

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is one of my favorite places on earth. The city’s historic center is  gorgeous and walk-able and friendly. On any day, you are likely to find parades and processions and music. But, partly because of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city’s historic center follows an elaborate set of rules…. how you can decorate your building, the colors you can paint your building, the kinds of signs you can hang, and the kind of noise you can make, among other things. It’s ordered and traditional.

But a few blocks from the historic center in barrio Guadalupe, the rules don’t apply….

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