Did I REALLY Resist Coming Here? San Miguel de Allende
Joe and I arrived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a couple days ago.
I can’t wait to tell you about this magical UNESCO-designated World Heritage Center over the next few entries.
But first I have to confess how heavily I resisted coming here.
I had a list of reasons.
First, Mexico just suffered two catastrophic earthquakes. Wouldn’t it be disrespectful, I said to Joe, to expect hospitality from any city in Mexico while its neighbors were suffering?
Second, along those lines, what if earthquakes aren’t done with Mexico yet?
Third, don’t the people of Mexico hate Americans at this point? What with Donald Fucking Trump still puffing about The Wall and refusing to send condolences — let alone aid — to Mexico until after the second quake. Would the Mexican people be able to separate us from the offensive, insensitive, idiot buffoon who is the President of the United States? I was tempted to say “our president” but those words still make me shudder and are impossible for me to write.
Fourth but not least, who ever heard of Volaris airlines? The name reminded me of volcanoes and that sounded dangerous to me. It doesn't take much to sound scary to me, apparantly. It is my own brand of idiocy that I didn’t know Volaris is Mexico’s second largest carrier and happens to be one of the world’s safest low cost airlines according to AirlinesRatings.com.
Thank God for my sweet, level-headed, act opposite to fear (and Trump), Joe. He listened to my worries patiently. As he always does.
Then he reminded me that:
A) San Miguel de Allende has never had an earthquake,
B) By going to San Miguel, we were actually helping the local economy and, by extension, the economies of the earthquake impacted regions,
C) Most people in other countries — even those continually maligned by fascist Trump — don’t hate us; they feel terribly sorry and embarrassed for us. And, more importantly, it is our responsibility as Americans to show the people of the world that MOST of us are NOT Trump; that MOST of us think Trump is a nutcase and do not support his anti-immigration policies or his wall, and
D) The only reason I was afraid of an airline outside the U.S. majors is because I have been brainwashed to believe that our monopoly held, corporate-driven airlines are somehow superior to those of any other country. In other words I have fallen prey to America is Best marketing and become an airline Aryan. Hadn’t I gotten over my not-American airline phobia in Europe when we so easily and happily flew multiple carriers I’d never heard of?
Hard to argue with those arguments.
So here we are, safe and sound in San Miguel.
Beautiful, festive, welcoming San Miguel de Allende.
Joe is too kind to pose the biggest question in all of this: What was I thinking?
If we stop venturing out into the world, the world becomes a small and scary place indeed.
Travel & Arrival
This is where I get to admit that the Volaris experience was perhaps one of the most efficient and pleasant flights we’ve been on in a while — short lines, courteous service, wide seats, delivered to our destination (Leon airport) ahead of schedule. Did you hear that United Airlines? American Airlines? Delta? No tackling innocent passengers who won’t give up their seat, no charging for a boarding pass failed to be printed out before getting in line.
A driver from Bajiogo Shuttle was waiting to ferry us the hour and a half from the airport to San Miguel. He was kind, courteous, prompt and unafraid of overtaking slower vehicles on the road. The cost? A mere $20 apiece.
I know this is a gross generalization, but, is it me or are businesses just nicer in other countries? It took about three minutes by phone to book this ride the night before we needed it.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we did not have a room reserved for the first three days of our trip. As you know if you’ve followed our travels, Joe and I have different approaches to finding accommodations. He likes a more day-of, wing it approach. I like to know months in advance where I am sleeping. He won this round.
So, at the 11th hour (literally, at 11 PM, an hour before boarding that Volaris flight) we asked to extend our later reservation at the Casa Mandu to arrive that same day (i.e giving the casa less than four hours, middle-of-the-night notice). Without even confirming the change (or getting the deposit) through Airbnb, Casa Mandu cheerfully accommodated us. And despite our early morning arrival (7 AM), owner Ruth and her team invited us to come right over rather than carting our luggage all over town until our room was ready at the standard 3 PM. They welcomed us warmly, gave us the lay of the land, had a large bowl of fresh fruit awaiting us and pointed us to breakfast at a nearby restaurant.
As they did all this, a long lost memory of “customer service” rose up through the fog of at least a decade of the automated phone systems and “it’s not our policy” walls that have become the norm in the states.
Less than two hours in this country and already Ruth and her assistant Christopher had restored my faith in hospitality and customer service.
Color. So much color. It’s what I love most about Mexico. Brilliant, festive, rich colors painted on the buildings, woven into rugs and rebozos and hats, fired into pottery. It’s the first thing you notice as you ride into San Miguel on a bus or, as we did, in a hired minivan. So many colors, but in particular the rust reds, the deep grassy greens and French’s mustard or lemony yellows seem to attack our senses (in a good way). Not coincidentally, all of these traditional colors of Mexico adorn the walls of our little casita, called the Frida casita, about five blocks from the town center. If all I ever experienced of Mexico is the Casa Mandu’s Frida casita, I’d be happy.
In an art-filled city like San Miguel, however, staying in, no matter how perfect your accommodations, should be a crime. So, after a brief nap on our first day, we spent several hours walking, practised our fledgeling Spanish on unsuspecting vendors, went to an open mic night at the Shelter Theater which offers a wide range of shows and activities for English speakers, and watched fireworks over the town center. Fireworks are an almost daily experience here, they greet the sun in the morning and put the moon to sleep at night.
At 10 PM we bought some street tamales, strolled home and called it a damn good day.