Julie, one of our co-founders and producers here at We Get to Know shares her incredible summer 6-week vacation exploring San Miguel de Allende. Reading along I find myself swept up into the culture, sites, and sounds of this central Mexican gem. We love how she incorporated giving back and learning into their summer days. Julie also shares her tried and true recommendations should you ever find yourself enjoying the beauty of San Miguel.
A few years ago our family had the chance to travel to Mexico City for the summer with the idea of taking weekend trips to nearby cities as frequently as we could. I have to mention that this ‘summer move’ was my first trip to Mexico City and almost upon landing, I would have been just as happy staying in this AMAZING city had we not already planned a few excursions. Mexico City has my heart, but that is another post.
Of these said weekend trips, San Miguel de Allende (SMA) was the first on our, well, to be truthful, my list. To my kids, Mexico = beaches and beach-town vibe, San Miguel is not.
What San Miguel is, is so much more. So much more that two years later, my family hopped on a plane, en route to Mexico City (had to have my fix) and then off to San Miguel for six weeks of summertime bliss.
I would be remiss to not menton a bit of anxiety within the first 24 hours of arriving in SMA. Actually, I am going to own it and say I was just short of finding the nearest clinic to check my heart rate before I took a few deep breaths, and a sip of a margarita and said, “Kids, we’ve got this, we will love San Miguel and if you don’t believe it now, you will….” And then repeat.
Our first few days were spent finding our bearings. We found our grocery store which was an easy Uber ride (yes, Uber is in Interior Mexico!) away. I say easy but trying to direct our driver to take us to the “Mega” reminded me of many visits to Paris when even saying “Bonjour” would turn into a translation war. Turns out “Mega” in English is “Megå” in Spanish. Claro! We also found our breakfast haven that has croissants that rival any boulangerie in Paris, our Spanish school (yes, life is not a constant vacation kids), and lastly, delicious margaritas. Ok, who am I kidding, I did not have to do much searching for that last one!
We filled our days with school in the mornings (me too), then would walk until we all settled on a lunch spot – some days, new places, but mostly, we found our favorites and tended to go back… over and over. Our afternoons were spent either by the pool, reading, playing an inordinate amount of UNO (which they call “ONE” in Mexico) or volunteering. This is actually a funny story. I was adamant that a portion of our time away was spent giving back to the community. I found an orphanage through our Spanish school and the kids and I went for a “meet & greet” before we could begin working with the girls. After leaving and having a very difficult time finding an Uber or even a taxi, and actually, if my mom were there (I tend to measure things in “would my mom freak out?” ways, and yes, she would) I deemed we better walk fast and keep our heads down. After all, we were about to start doing some very important work! We barely made it to the end of the street before we began talking with a mother and her young son and in my limited Spanish I mentioned volunteering and she replied, “En el refugio de animales?” Well, my at leisure spanish speaking ninos understood the word “animales” and literally within minutes, I was sitting on the floor in a very cramped (I will stop short of saying dirty, hairy, hot or anything else that is negative) room with my three kids and three others and no less than a dozen kittens among us. Needless to say, this became one of their favorite things to do and we were ‘buzzed’ in to the animal shelter more times than I would like to admit!
Every evening started in El Jardín, the heart and town square of SMA. Imagine this – you are part of a big family and you are all gathering in the living room before you head to dinner. People are laughing, some might be late, some might be off in the corner unwilling to conjugate, others might be imbibing too early to withstand the evening….but IT IS good. This is El Jardín. It is family, it is fun, it is loud and it is laughter. And might I add, it also involves copious amounts of blow up toys that my kids, who typically tend to stay near me, but here, felt quite comfortable not only navigating each and every corner of El Jardín to purchase the best toy, but seemingly, learned the art of negotiation as well. Baby steps por favor. The weekends are especially lively with weddings that start in the square, spill out into every street that feeds off of the square and seems to last at least 48 hours. My guess is a lifetime together should certainly start with 48 straight hours of celebrating in the city. We would visit the Parroquia every Saturday evening to catch a glimpse of this celebration and believe me when I say I felt a little jaded by not being able to walk out of my own wedding service with a tequila in hand. Now that I’m in the know, maybe a renewal is in my near future. After we had our fill of blow up air rockets and donkey rides (I swear, like I have never sworn before, none of this gets old!) we always found our way to a delicious dinner. And then repeat.
As our trip neared the end, I couldn’t help but revel in our choice. Is San Miguel absolutely amazing in pretty much every step of the way (minus the dramatic-almost panic attack)? YES! But moreover, I think what got me was ‘acclimating’ instead of ‘vacationing’. I loved the pace that we created that was ultimately driven by the simple question, “What do we WANT to do TODAY?”. We absolutely lived in the moment and in our crazy-paced lifestyles we seldom take the time to slow it all down because we can’t. Here, in San Miguel de Allende, we could and we did. – Julie