Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A Circus X A Zoo + Mardi Gras = ???

El Tianguis de Martes de San Miguel de Allende. The Tuesday Market of San Miguel de Allende is a riot of colour, smells, scents, people and noise. Here you can shop 'till you drop and find pretty much everything you can imagine. Even free puppies! A "Tianguis" is a travelling market. Every day the vendors move to a different town, set up their stalls early in the morning and break it all up again in the afternoon, then head to the next town to do it all over again.

We walked to downtown and took the #8 bus to the market, the #9 bus is also possible. Any bus to anywhere in this city costs a flat rate of five Pesos. The bus stops right at the market and is a comfortable ride up the steep streets of town.

The market is huge! Like two football fields stuffed to the rafters with stalls and vendors selling their wares. Beautiful fresh vegetables, meat and sausage, bread, clothing both designer and knock-off, tools of all descriptions, the list goes on and on. And then there are the vendors cooking food for lunch. Soup, pizza and all that wonderful Mexican street food, cooked right before your eyes, hot off the grill. If you have the energy you can spend all day here shopping for that surprise treasure, the thrill of the find definitely applies.

Tortillas made on the spot
Fresh fish
Everything for the garden
Applying stain to furniture

We left the market with what we came for, green beans, strawberries and four limes. Then going home we decided to walk. It's mostly a level and downhill walk, so easy peasy. Passed the Botanical Gardens and through the posh neighbourhood called "Balcones". Now the veggies need their bath of disinfectant and we are ready for business. A relaxing afternoon is planned, it might include some wine, a roasted chicken and coleslaw.

Walking through Balcones

 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

El Charco del Inginio, Botanical Gardens

Some places of interest are worth multiple visits, and the Botanical gardens called "El Charco del Inginio" is one of these. Kevin and Ruth were parked up here for a couple of nights, and invited us to come over and check out the gardens.

A cardio walk through Balcones
Sherman
The burnt field next to Sherman. Quick thinking saved a lot of damage.

We walked from our home, about 20 minutes, and knocked on their door at 10:00 AM. They were just tidying up from breakfast and soon we were headed for the entrance. It's a 40 Peso fee per person and well worth the expense. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and planted with cacti indigenous to the region. There are also areas where rescued plants have been transplanted from construction sites etc. The gardens border the Presa Las Colonias, a man made lake caused by the installation of a dam. The lake is now a wildlife reserve and many beautiful birds come here to roost.

Yours truly (photo by Kevin Read)

As you walk along the trails you are introduced to the many varieties of cacti that are native to this land. Many are quite familiar as they are available back home as house plants. Every few minutes you come upon a viewpoint overlooking the presa. It's a photographer's paradise. Then you enter the conservatory which is beautifully installed with real aggregate stone paths, ponds with local species of fish, and many varieties of succulents.

The path continues to the banks of the lake where you can see the birds, both resident and migratory. In the lake some man made islands protect the birds from unwanted guests, so they can roost in peace. The shores and islands are planted with both native and introduced vegetation.

Next in view comes the dam which was built in the 19th century. A water pipeline springs from the dam which fed a watermill that powered the city of San Miguel. The watermill is in ruins now and the pipeline is in pieces. Following the pipeline a gorge appears with many ponds and view points, it is truly a stunning sight. I have never taken so many pictures, thank goodness for digital photography, where you are not worried about wasting precious film and processing costs. The final view is that of San Miguel itself, sprawled out in the valley.

These two strange birds are definitely migratory

The path now takes you back to the entrance point along the "Plaza of the Four Winds" a place for ceremonies made up of pre Columbian symbols. Some newly installed gardens are here along with a playground for the kids. Don't forget the gift shop and snack bar on the way out. The park is open daily from 9:00 AM 'till 6:00 PM. Annual membership is available at a cost of 700 Pesos.

Plaza of the Four Winds

When we left the park Sherman was patiently waiting in the front of the entrance. It was time to secure the RV and make ready for departure. A new home base had been found and we were soon on our way there with a planned stop at the Mega for some groceries. We took advantage of the opportunity and stocked up on wine and some other small items. We were soon on our way again, but in the wrong direction thanks to some overhead structures that prevented us from leaving the parking lot from the more logical exit. Kevin spotted a good place for a U turn and had us heading back in our planned direction. We soon entered the gates of Hotel San Ramon, just on the outskirts of San Miguel on the way to Dolores Hidalgo. They also have RV spaces for rent. Here we met Jerry and Paula from Nova Scotia, who are wintering here in their enormous truck and camper. We enjoyed a lovely lunch of chicken veggie soup aboard Sherman followed by a happy hour with the six of us. What an excellent day!

Captain Kevin at the helm

We took a taxi home from the hotel and soon had a nice dinner of Quesadillas thawing from the freezer.

La vida es bellissima!

 

Friday, 22 January 2016

Oh my goodness, a Parade

Last Wednesday Kevin and Ruth arrived in San Miguel and parked up their RV "Sherman" at the Botanical Gardens just a short walk from our home. We set up a day together on Thursday and let them relax at their new parking spot.

Thursday morning they walked over to our house on the cliff. We gave them a quick tour of this lovely home and headed into town. Just as we arrived in town we heard marching music and we discovered a parade was in progress, along with the crowds to accompany that. This day's celebration was in honour of Ignacio Allende, a hero of the revolution who's surname was added to the city's name for his bravery. Ignacio Allende was a captain in the Spanish army but became a sympathizer of the Mexican Insurgent movement and was ultimately captured in the state of Chihuahua and executed. January 21 is now a national holiday in his honour.

Every school in town seemed to be represented with a marching band and also the armed forces and police were involved. The skies were buzzing with a foursome of vintage WWII warplanes flying in formation.

After we "had seen it" we strolled on, bypassing the Jardin, where huge crowds were gathered and set out to find the now decommissioned Plaza de Toros. The bullfighting ring had it's last bloodbath in 2013, when an end came to this cruel sport in San Miguel. It is now a venue for concerts and other large social events. Still the building remains unchanged and the infirmary is still there where the unlucky toreadors were treated when the bull actually got the upper hand. By now Shelagh was fading fast and not feeling well. When lunchtime came upon us she was spent and we hailed a taxi and sent her home. Some toast and sleep got her back on her feet later.

Entrance to the Arena
The "Body Shop"
Visiting a small cactus garden

Lunch was good for me, but no so much for Kevin and Ruth. Their order was messed up and their service less than acceptable. I wonder if the fact that there was no school that day, and therefore the kids were helping out in the restaurant, may have complicated the usual smooth running of the place... After lunch we set out to find Jerry and Paula from Nova Scotia, who were staying at the small tennis club in town which also has a few RV spaces for rent. We found the place to be sans Jerry and Paula. Later that day Kevin learned that they had found refuge at the hotel "San Ramon" just north of the city on the highway to Dolores Hidalgo.

We returned to the centre of town and stopped at our butcher shop to pick up chicken breasts and then to the market for romaine lettuce, to be spun into a dinner of Caesar salad and grilled Tuscan style chicken for our new found friends Kevin and Ruth, who's blog we have been following for years. After a wonderful evening with copious amounts of wine they said goodnight and walked over the hill back to Sherman, their cozy RV for a good night's blogging and sleep.

You can read about Kevin and Ruth at travelwithkevinandruth.com