It took us a while to warm to San Miguel de Allende, despite the array of beautiful colours that splash these city walls. You only have to look at our previous blog post to understand our clouded judgement, (and Lars’ irreverent humour) that has consequently offended and raised a few eyebrows; it’s only now that we realise San Miguel de Allende is so much more than skin deep.
We have spent two months here, and as we leave for the first ‘real’ leg of our journey, the reflections of San Miguel de Allende have cast light in corners we didn’t know existed.
As time passed we realised it was the people of this city that has made our time here unforgettable, smothering our previous preconceptions.
We met a fisherman by the lake just outside the city. He has lived here all his life and has no plans to leave. Occasionally he goes to the US in search of work at the farms over the border. The money he makes there he sends home to his family. As he throws out his nets every day, his one aim is to give his children what he doesn’t have, an education. With an education, his children can build a better life. One of their biggest family expenditures is to pay for them to attend school.
Creativity is pouring through the streets of the city, over and around every cobbled stone. Painters, carpenters, sculptors, jewellers, weavers, welders and warriors are all churning out beautiful pieces everywhere you look.
Recycling for art
An obvious trend in San Miguel de Allende is using recycled materials to create beautiful pieces; Eco-Active is a costume jewellery brand that is predominantly made using recycled bicycle inner tubes, the designs are inspired by crop circles. Before Joe had his shop at 56 Mesones he was unemployed.
Rodrigo is a jeweller, (check out Aztekarte) he has a stall at the Mercado de Artesanías. His pieces are made from manipulating metal and using macrame knotting techniques, his work is intricately stunning, he kindly sold me some wax cord (nearest place they sell it is Mexico City) so that I can learn and create my own on the road.
We were staying very near this bike shop and Lars soon made friends with Herman, the owner. We both recommend this shop for rentals, repairs, bike parts, tools and supplies.
We had several problems with my bike when we first arrived. On our very first ride, my rear derailleur exploded. Herman just so happened to have a spare Deore LX derailleur which we were able to swap out in no time. Just a few rides later, we realised that my Truvatic bottom bracket had come loose due to a faulty spacer. Fortunately, Herman had seen exactly the same problem on another Truvatic crank and came up with a quick DIY fix. He also swapped out my stem for a shorter one he had on his old road bike!
After we solved all of my bike issues, Herman invited Lars to test ride on his local trails. They were joined by Alejandra (2012 Women’s State Champ XC MTBer) and together they rode out on the donkey trails towards Jalpa. Apparently it was a great ride and Lars sends a big thank you to Herman and Alejandra for showing him the local trails.
Vincente lives at El Estribo about 5km outside of San Miguel. He’s an organic farmer who seems to be plotting sustainable projects in his sleep. He wants to help and educate the local community and perhaps even Mexico on the value and necessity of more sustainable living. He grows the most delicious, organic tomatoes. He is also planning to pump rain water using a bicycle turbo trainer hooked up to a water pump (it looks like a bicycle hamster wheel). We hope the government and other locals realise the value of Vincente and support him in community projects and educational programs in the future.
John & Barbara
Strava is a great tool to share your rides and battle for the top spot, ‘King Of The Mountain’. Lars’ crazy rides caught John’s attention. An avid cyclist himself, he has raced in the Leadville 100 a few times and has completed many solo tours on a bicycle. After he visited our blog, he was intrigued enough to meet us.
They kindly invited us over for drinks and sunset at their beautiful home. They have been coming to San Miguel de Allende since the mid sixties. Together they have witnessed the city grow upwards, outwards and everything in between.
Barbara told us that San Miguel is where she feels most at home. The house they built is stunning, designed and project managed mainly by Barbara, who is a fine artist. She has had her work in a number of exhibitions over the years. Her humble mention of this leads us to believe she is pretty established here.
Their stories of travel through Mexico and Guatemala were truly inspirational; we will certainly be taking their advice when planning our route and hopefully their spirit also.
Thank you San Miguel de Allende. We originally pegged you in a corner without really understanding your true beauty. We are glad to have stayed long enough to realise we were wrong.