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  • Writer's pictureCharlys Trevino

The Magic of San Miguel de Allende

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I arrived in San Miguel. I had read and heard the complaints of some that San Miguel had attracted mostly expats from North America and the old world Mexican charm that once existed was lost and in its place was now a much sought after tourist attraction.

San Miguel was put on the map by Sterling Dickinson in the 1930's. Dickinson was an American trying to "find" himself after graduating from college in the States and he was instrumental in leading a renaissance for 60 years that transform this little defunct pueblo into a magnet for artists and expatriates. It was a bohemian haven for all those who wanted to get away from the mainstream life in North America. All good things seem to end up becoming too good and before long word got out and more expats came and the locals moved further out as the foreigners took over the Centro.

Given all this, I still found magic in the pueblo. The beautiful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Everyone seemed content and friendly and the art was very cool. I do have to admit the the authenticity of the food was lacking and I could tell it had been Americanized to better suit the cliental so that was a little painful. The streets were clean and there was a strong presence of police every where. The Centro was lively during the weekend with music and events and I loved all of that!

The tourists that came for the weekend were surprisingly very mixed and there were tons of Mexicans that visited from all over. San Miguel, for its size, is expensive and rentals around the Centro can top in the thousands in USA dollars.

The neighborhoods at the edge of the main Centro still were hanging on to a more local way of living but I could tell that even these neighborhoods were gentrifying quickly. I tried to find a long term rental that suited me but was not able to during my stay. I found a barrio within a 10 minute walk to the Centro that I really wanted to spend some time in but it wasn't meant to be. But I visited that neighborhood a few times and had some great experiences.

Barrio de Guadalupe is known for its street murals.

I met up with Fran for a few days who was doing a Spanish course in San Miguel Fran was the woman I had met in Guanajuato for a hike. Our paths would continue to cross in the next weeks. I also, met up with a photographer who I had been following on Instagram for some time and he also happen to be in San Miguel. Ian, Fran and I would see each other again in other cities. It's surreal how the universe puts some people together!

I left San Miguel after four days and headed to a permaculture community around 15 km outside of San Miguel. I had seen this little casita on Airbnb and thought it would be a great experience, plus there was an permaculture center just around the corner that I could volunteer to do some Spring planting. Now, that really excited me because I am so missing playing in the dirt.

Arleta's Ranchito consisted of four casitas. Two that were rented out and two that were lived in by the hostess and family. There was a ceremonial space with a tepee for a Temazcal. A yoga/library space which I spent loads of time in as it had some comfy couches and the best Wifi. There was a community kitchen and dinning space and an outdoor shower.

Arleta, Brian and 14 yr. old Diego are a great family and perfect hosts for my 8 day stay with them. It was a great experience and it made me appreciate how to live more sustainably. All electricity and water for the ranchito came from solar and rainwater. The compost toilets were easy to use and really much better then the all to often sewer smell that Mexico is known for.

Unfortunately, I was not able to volunteer at the center as it was a bit too early for Spring planting and the owners of the center were busy with other pressing tasks. I was super disappointed but I was able to visit the center on my last day.

I really enjoyed my time out in the middle of no where in this little community of people who were really wanting to make an environmental difference in the way they lived. I took away some ideas if I was to ever want to build a little commune of my own!

We can all do a little bit to impact our environment. Collect rainwater to water plants, compost organic waste, grow some vegetables and pee outside every once in while!

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