A Stormy Day in San Miguel de Allende

“I need to go to San Miguel before I move back,” my expat friend said.

“I didn’t really get to see much when we went two weeks ago,” I said. “Can we go together? I really want to visit there and hang out.”

On a random Monday, I cancelled my Spanish class and we went to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico with the kids! And yes, I told my Spanish teacher where we were going and she understood. Because San Miguel is cool. Like bow ties.

A view of San Miguel from a mountain overlook. The city spreads out below.

San Miguel from above.

The Beautiful city of San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende only recently crept its way into my life. After my husband did his initial visit to Mexico in January, he talked about the nearby towns and one of them is San Miguel.

Once we knew we were moving to Mexico, I contacted my world-traveling, occasionally expat friend because she had lived in Mexico City for two years. She brought pictures of San Miguel to show me.  And pictures of several other awesome looking places that I hope to visit while we are here.

 

A private area outside of a huge, beautiful church. It has arched columns, stairs and the color is a vibrant orange

San Miguel de Allende has been high up on my wishlist of places to visit. We went a few weeks ago to take care of some paperwork at the American Consulate, but we didn’t get to see anything except the mall, because the American Consulate is located in a mall! This kind of blows my mind, in a totally good way.

but I wanted to see the “old” San Miguel

“It’s expensive,” I am warned, “for Mexico.”

This knowledge did not stop me from buying some neat things, though. But first:

The restaurant tried to kill me. Not literally.

Even though I ate with careless abandon during our house hunting trip, my good luck with not getting sick in Mexico due to my celiac disease hasn’t held since moving. I will spare you the details. For now.

pictured: a litle girl in a hat wandering in the overcast, rainy area, surronded by old buildings and stone streets.

Playing in the rain.

I noticed on the menu that the chicken fajitas has soy sauce listed as one of the seasonings. Soy sauce contains gluten. Yes, you can buy soy sauce without gluten, but it is more expensive and it will not be the soy sauce that is used in a restaurant. I asked what seasonings were used to make the beef fajitas. No soy sauce, I’m told. When I took a bite of my beef (after first mistakenly being served the chicken fajitas), I could taste soy sauce.

It is one of the first times I wished I had stuck to my original idea to order a cheeseburger. My friend gave me her arrechera (flank steak, I believe), but I ended up only having a bit. One of my kids threw up while we were there and that kind of ended my appetite. Because you wanted to know that, right? Things get real when you travel with kids.

For what it’s worth, the guacamole and beans were awesome. They also had blue corn tortillas, which were delightful. The restaurant is called Mama Mia’s and it’s adorable inside and the little food I tried was tasty.

I’m under the covered walkway and this was the view. Another beautiful church!

IT has been dry Far into the rainy season

Until today.

While we were finishing our meals, we hear thunder. Then, the rain starts. Though we could sit in a restaurant in Mexico all afternoon without being asked to leave, I order ice cream. I accidentally order two, one for each child. I wanted one for me and I was going to share with my children who “aren’t hungry” and didn’t eat much of their gorgeous looking pizza.

There are many beautiful or intriguing doors. Many are both. I snapped this one from the car as we were driving through the rain and out of town.

The rain doesn’t stop. As we wind our way around, my friend steps into a candy shop. She wants to get candy to bring home for her kids and grandkids. My kids are begging for candy. Of course, I say no. They just had ice cream.  The ice cream I’d wanted mind you (and it was rather expensive, that is why I didn’t buy 3). The kids and I step back outside. It’s a covered walkway. The sellers and tourists were milling about under there and away from the rain.

Aaaaaand I bought stuff.

A wooden donkey carrying terra-cotta pots filled with artificial flowers, a doll with green, yellow, and purple bows in her black hair, and a white scarf apparently from Oaxaca

This stuff. I bought this stuff. The shawl is apparently from Oaxaca. It’s pretty. And fragile. Maybe I should have thought this through a bit more. NAH!

Seeing San Miguel wet is dynamic. There are some small drainage trenches built into the roadways, which is surprising. There was enough rain to create a tiny raging river that headed down the mountain and large puddles in the streets where the trenches end.

What You need to know about visiting San Miguel with kids

First, find a safe place to park your car. It was recommended to me that I never park on the street. My expat friend did one time and her car was side swiped. While this can happen anywhere (and once happened to my friend living in German Village in Columbus, Ohio), the narrow streets and extensive traffic make the risk a little higher in San Miguel.

The parking lot we chose was a little bit off the main drag, large with some shade, and there were bathrooms. Not the best bathrooms, but tolerable. It also has an attendant, which is an attractive feature.

You will be doing a lot of walking and there is really no way to bring a stroller there. I had my baby carrier along, but I ended up not using it. I was rather concerned about slipping on the wet stones that make up the sidewalk. It’s gorgeous, but uneven. Candidly, I don’t know the best way to bring a smaller baby there. I would probably front wear there and walk very carefully. My shoes gripped the sidewalk enough, even while wet, that I didn’t feel like I’d slip. Even for dry weather, if you will be wearing or carrying a child, I recommend choosing your footwear carefully. Go for comfort and safety over fashion. I was wearing sandals. I wish I’d worn sneakers. My kids had sneakers and they mostly didn’t complain about walking. Of course, on the route down, watching the water flow down the hills was fascinating (it reminds me a little of one of the Zoey and Sassafras books, actually. Yay for scientific exploration in an unlikely place!)

Last Thoughts on san miguel

We barely scratched the surface of San Miguel during this visit. I don’t know if anything opens before 10 am. We arrived around 11:30 am. It wasn’t too busy and that could be because we visited on a Monday. In addition, we did not scratch the surface of things to do with kids. It’s a neat place and we will visit frequently. There is much to discover there!

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2 thoughts on “A Stormy Day in San Miguel de Allende

  1. April says:

    I’ve been dying to go to San Miguel de Allende! We didn’t make it up there when we were based in Mexico City, and now I’m not sure we’ll have another opportunity. It looks gorgeous.

    And I’ve heard the same thing about parking on the street. Incidentally, today I learned that there is no driving test to get a license in Mexico. Explains a lot, doesn’t it? 🙂
    April recently posted…Picking Up the PiecesMy Profile

    • Natalie says:

      I didn’t know that about the driving test! That does explain a few things.

      I hope you get to San Miguel de Allende. It’s neat and I’ve only seen a small bit of it.

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