Friday night was a rough night to sleep, but a great night for a festival here in San Miguel de Allende. This weekend has been “La Alberoda”, the birthday of the patron saint of this beautiful town in Central Mexico, Saint Miguel Arcangel. That means the entire weekend is ceremony and ritual, dancing, decoration, and of course fireworks. The blasts and booms started around midnight and hit a crescendo around 4:30 in the morning. Our feral kitten Chuckie (who we adopted here last May) spent the night under the bed or under the covers. He’s loving and affectionate but has a highly developed amygdala.
Every one else in SMA has been having a great time…..and I mean everyone. Yesterday we saw children hoisting paper machet figures on poles march into the Jardin to have them blown up one at a time as they giggled and shrieked. We saw the majesty of beautifully groomed mounts and caballeros promenade through the square for the “Blessing of the Horses”. We saw parades of locals dressed as Native Indian Dancers from a bygone era…….and my obscure favorite……the Thursday “warm up” of the Taxi Motorcade where a long string of a few dozen decked out taxi cabs roll slowly into the square of the Jardin. And they make quite an entrance. Their horns honk, their alarms blare, their lights flash, and the driver’s smiles beam. Why not, and why shouldn’t they have a seat at the celebration too?
Many people wonder (and ask) why we would want to spend time living in Mexico…..and especially a town they have never heard of that isn’t on the beach. Typically their knowledge of Mexico is limited to the picture of danger painted by a sensationalist, ratings driven US media or a “bubble travel” trip to a resort town (Cabo, Cancun, pick one….any one). They typically go plane-shuttle van-resort-shuttle van-plane-home. None of that begins to tell the story of our experiences here.
We love the warmth and friendliness of the people, their work to live not live to work mindset, the beauty of the landscape, the casual pace of day to day life, the history and architecture and movies and dining all within walking distance. We love the simple pleasures here and the freeing feeling of escape from a culture of identity based (and measured) on conspicuous consumption and accumulation. And yes we have always felt safe here. Statistically we are safer than when we lived in Chicago or Oakland. But it really always comes down to the warmth and the joy of the people, and the feeling that any time and for any (or no) reason there is cause for celebration.
Nobel Prize Winning Mexican Poet Octavio Paz said “any occasion for getting together will serve, any pretext to stop the flow of time and commemorate men and events with festivals and ceremonies”. And everyone rejoices…..from the highest seats of government to the taxi drivers. And the taxi drivers not only want you to take a good look at them, but for all to join in.