Thursday, June 20, 2013

San Miguel de Allende, MX - Week 3

Walking through San Miguel with Ken is like having a GPS. He has a keen sense for direction. If Jamey were on her own, she would be lost forever. We went out Monday in search of Emily, a lady who was recommended for hair cuts. Ken took us through some beautiful neighborhoods, one of which was the original of San Miguel. It was called El Chorro. The road wound up through big homes and beautiful mature trees. We also discovered snowy egrets nesting in the trees so we couldn't linger in the shade.

Snowy egrets nesting in tree

Finally, we found the address we were looking for only to discover that Emily had moved to a new location. The Mexican guy who told us didn't know her new address but gave us approximations. Ken, with his keen senses tuned in, actually found the correct location. It was behind the black door.

Heading towards El Centro, we visited Plaza de Toros Oriente (East Bullring). Dating back over 300 years, one could sense the excitement that occurs when the stands are full of people and the Matador is in the ring.

Plaza de Toros Oriente

Tuesday was a gorgeous day and we headed out to catch a local bus to take us to the San Miguel Central de Autobuses (main bus terminal) to get a second bus to Dolores Hidalgo. Ken had checked the bus routes and knew exactly which bus we should get on. As luck would have it, the bus was pulling up to the stop as we walked out so we hopped on. Ken noticed the driver was not following the published route. He asked him if he was going to the terminal and the driver said "no". Uh oh! A very kind man sitting behind us told us we needed to be on a blue bus and we were on a yellow bus. When the bus we were on came to the end of its route where everybody gets off, this kind man showed us the correct bus to take. We made it to the terminal and bought our tickets for the second bus which was ready to leave.

Parque de Dolores Hidalgo
Statue of Father Hidalgo and his parish church

Dolores Hidalgo Cradle of National Independence is a small city but is known as the city where Father Miguel Hidalgo uttered his famous cry for Mexico's independence on the steps of his parish church in September 1810. Today Dolores Hidalgo is primarily known for its colorful Talavera ceramic industry which is sold all over Latin American countries.

Shopping for Talavera pottery

Dolores is also famous for its exotic ice cream flavors. Throughout the plaza are vendors offering cups and cones with flavors such as corn, tequila, beer, shrimp, and avacado. Not feeling adventurous, Jamey had coconut and Ken tried the strawberries and cream. Both were very good!

Enjoying handmade nieve (ice cream)

We enjoyed a lunch and then walked around looking in the shops at the ceramic items. With limited space in our suitcases, we couldn't make a decision about what to take back as a souvenir so, sadly, we left empty handed.

The bus got us back to San Miguel's bus terminal and Ken spoke to a local about which bus we should take back. But we didn't feel like taking a chance this time so we decided taking a taxi right to our door was much more desirable.

Thursday, June 20, started out very overcast. Weather predictions were that Tropical Storm Barry would push in rain and cooler temps through the weekend and possibly the early part of next week. We needed to be prepared so we grabbed the shopping list and bags and set out for a walk in the crisp morning air.

Scenic San Miguel de Allende

First, we needed nutritional fortification so Kuni Doni Cafe was our first stop. We sat outside under the shelter of beautiful bougainvillea and enjoyed steaming hot cups of coffee and a wonderful Mexican breakfast. Then off we went to Mega. The bags weren't too heavy so we decided to walk back instead of taking the bus or a taxi.

There had only been a few sprinkles during the afternoon so we grabbed our umbrellas and headed out that evening for some more interesting stops. Our first endeavor was to find La Ventana (The Window) coffee shop. We have not yet found a good coffee to make at home. We believe it's because we buy decaf. This time we mixed half regular and half decaf. It smelled so good - we can't wait to try it!

Next stop was La Cucaracha (The Cockroach - go ahead and cringe, I did), a famous bar, built in 1947. Back in its hey day, La Cucaracha was a place where writers, artists, actors, locals, expats, or anybody would go to for nightlife. Beat Generation authors, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, frequented La Cucaracha in the 1960′s. No one, rich or poor, was turned away and the owners, the Correa family, never refused anyone a drink - even if they couldn't pay for it. It was located in the center of town.

Inside La Cucaracha

We paid for our 'cuba libres', but ate some
free food at La Cucaracha

But in 1978, some town officials decided it no longer fit into the plan of what was appropriate in the central area around the church. So La Cucaracha relocated to Zacateros #22. The famous people found some other place to go and the bar no longer had the appeal it once did. However, the Correa family have still kept it open and kept to their business practice of turning no one away. At 6 p.m. on Thursdays, the family cooks a full Mexican meal and brings it in. Anybody can come in and serve themselves and it's free! We had to sample - rice, beans, some kind of beef, chicharrones in salsa (fried pork rinds in salsa), and tortillas. There were young and old, men and women. The food was good and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Thursday night free food at La Cucaracha

To read the very interesting history of this once very famous cantina, please click on the link: La Cucaracha

This was only an appetizer for us and we walked across the street to La Mesa Grande. They are considered a bakery and have a full assortment of pastries and breads and also serve Mexican crafted beers. Every day they serve breakfast (until 1 p.m.) and lunch (until 5 p.m.), but Thursday night is pizza night and they stay open until 10. We ordered a prosciutto, mushroom and fresh basil pizza. It was delicious and we managed to save a few slices to take home with us.

Wood-fired oven at La Mesa Grande

Our delicious pizza

The rain held off through the night but the clouds are heavy this morning (Friday). It's a stay-home day. Jamey will prepare stuffed poblano peppers for dinner.

Pathway to a hotel
Instituto Allende

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