Monday, February 28, 2011

Burros are a beautifu sight in San Miguel

Door to door delivery is a luxury, especially in San Miguel de Allende.  When you have a knock on the door, it usually is a man, a woman, a child and sometimes the whole family selling bags of dirt, firewood, flowers or vegetables from their country garden or field.  These burros above are loaded down with burlap bags full of a mix of dirt and compost for your pots and garden beds.
It's hard work for the burros and the owner and it makes for a very long day, especially when selling firewood (lena).  First he has to find and chop the lena, load the lena on the back of his burros, make the long trek into town (usually three hours or more), wander up and down the streets of San Miguel knocking on doors with the hope of selling his load and then return home tired from a very long day.  I have been known to buy a burro load, or two or three.  They will remember your home and come back through out the year, knocking on your door in hope of another sale.  They don't have much and are working so hard to squeak out a living.  I usually have an old sweater, socks, anything that might help them get through the winter that I give them.  They are always so appreciative and it makes me feel good too.
This was over in Dolores Hidalgo.  Can you imagine having your milk delivered this way?  What a simplier way of life and I just love it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Equipale seating is pretty comfortable

The EQUIPALE,  the traditional Mexican barrel chair, 
is extremely comfortable. Pronounced, eck-u-pali,
you can find these in private homes and many
restaurants around San Miguel de Allende. 
The frame is made out of a Mexican cedar,
estaca, and tanned pigskin.  Equiplae is the
Indian Nahuatl word, Icapalli,
meaning "chair for the gods" and it was used
by the Aztec higher class society long before
the Spaniards arrived to the new world.

Equipale Child Barrel Chair

I have seen Equiplae painted before but in a rather corny way; howling coyotes, pastel  colors....  The chair above is painted so beautifully with its black ground and hot pink rosebuds.  It could almost glow in the dark.  But what a statement.

This particular Equipale chair was painted in a traditional Mexican pattern and is in the patio of Posada de Las Minas in Mineral de Pozos, an hour drive from San Miguel de Allende.
That artistic route the artists of Mexico seem to take never ceases to amaze me.

There are a few stores in San Miguel that sell good Equipale.
Artes de Mexico at Calzada de la Aurora 47 and Icpalli at Correo 43.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Laundry

Los Lavenderos Publicos, the public laundry, in San Miguel de Allende is a picturesque spot.  These cement laundry basins line two sides of the Santa Elena Park on Calle Recreo, just above the Benito Juarez Park (also known as the French Park).
Long before these tubs were built, the women in town would bring their laundry, and gossip, to this spot and wash their clothing on stones besides the natural springs.  In 1901, the town's water supply was changed and these tub basins were built.
There is no attendant, no charge and it is first come, first serve.  Over the years, washing machines and dryers have become a common item in many homes and laundromats have emerged around town.  So it is not the center of washing and gossiping as it used to be.
We have Lava Magico on our street and even though we have a washer and dryer, occasionally we take our laundry across the street.  It is washed, nicely folded, then bundled in plastic shrink wrap (eliminating many of the wrinkles) and done that same day.  The cost is very reasonable and I am charged by the kilo. 
I love the caracol (snail) design that is incorporated into the back splash of the laundry area and in the surrounding walls.
On a sunny day, you still will find the occasional family doing their laundry and bathing the children.  And what kid doesn't love to have an outdoor bath!

Monday, February 21, 2011

More Fountains around San Miguel

One of the important parts of the Spanish missions was the baptism fountain. The whole purpose of the mission was to convert the natives to the Catholic religion, and the first step in becoming Catholic is being baptized.   No church is complete without a baptismal fountain.  This one above is in the Parroquia church, the main parish church in San Miguel de Allende.  I love how the fountain is complemented by the blue and white talavera tiles.
Baptismal fountains are an elegant addition to many of the interior courtyards in San Miguel.  And how pretty is this?  The red rose petals are such a beautiful contrast with the grey stone.
You can tell this fountain is old by the polished lip from years and years of use.  You can find this fountain in entry of the church over in Atotonilco.
Another baptismal fountain that I am especially fond of, it's at my casa in the back patio. 
When I am entertaining, I love floating Gerber Daises in the water.  It is such a nice touch to have the sound of trickling water from the fountains in the background.  Life is good!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Meet me in San Miguel and meet some new friends

Since October of 2009, I have been leading guided tours in San Miguel and the surrounding areas.  I want to share with you some of the wonderful experiences I have had.
I host a welcome dinner at my house the first night when my group arrives into San Miguel de Allende.  We start with drinks and hors d'oeurvres up on my mirador (rooftop patio) and have dinner in the dining room and out on the patio.  Below is what some of the people at the table wrote me after the trip. 
Diane said, "You did a fantastic job putting it together and your attention to detail is something to be envied." 
Cindy wrote, "Gracias amiga for an absolutely marvelous experience.  Over the years I have been privileged to enjoy great trips all over the world - this one ranks in the top five!"
Another one of my groups loved touring the sights in Gunajauto.  We had just visited the home and museum of Diego Rivera and we were waiting for our drivers to pick us up and take us to  lunch at Restaurante Las Mercedes up on the hillside with its incredible views. 
One of the entrees at Las Mercedes, a boneless chicken breast with a pistachio mole sauce.  Debra wrote me, "What a job of giving us an overview of the area and a taste of the great culture.  I will say one thing I was most surprised at was all the gourmet food, to rival any place in Denver."
The second day in San Miguel is my walking tour of town; its historic buildings, churches, galleries, plazas, the market and of course, a few choice boutiques.  One lady wrote, "The group you put together, could not have been nicer."  And I have to agree, I have loved all my groups!
By the second day of my tour, we were all good friends.  We all gave Matina the nod of approval that the pink Mexican blouse was definitely a keeper.
Talk about fun!  Laura and Susan became immediate friends and such good sports to pose for this photo with their faces peeping through the menu at La Posadita.
Honey was hamming it up at the cooking class out at Rancho Casa Luna.  She was showing off her roasted poblano peppers.  Honey wrote me, "You did a fantastic job of pulling all of us together, organizing lunches, vans, tours, etc.. And to boot, you are a "hoot" to be with."
The last evening of my tour, I host a dinner at my house.  During the cocktail hour, I had a trio performing for us and Cheryl was having the best time dancing with the accordion player.  Actually, almost everyone was dancing at one time.
People from all over the states have joined me in San Miguel for one of my tours; from Washington, Colorado, California, Florida and Texas. I have met such interesting and creative people on my tours and I still keep in contact with everyone.  Many have become very good friends.
All good things come to an end, but I promise everyone took with them memories of an unforgettable visit!
Wednesday, February 16th, I wrote about the itinerary for my June 7 -13 tour.  Please join me, I have a few spaces left.  You may reach me at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meet Me in San Miguel de Allende

Over the past few years, I have been leading guided tours of San Miguel de Allende and the surrounding areas.  My next, and only tour for 2011 is June 7 - 13.
The first evening, I host a welcome reception and dinner at my home right in the historic center of town and only a block from Casa Luna B & B where my groups stay.  The second floor patio, mirador, is where we have our drinks with an incredible view of San Miguel with the Monjas church and the Parroquia church.

My home is equally inviting at night.  Aren't the stone pavers a work of art?

The second day we start with breakfast at Casa Luna followed by a leisurely guided walking tour of San Miguel.  We tour the Parroquia, the magnificent parish church, right in the jardin (the central plaza).
We walk around the jardin and take in its grandeur.  Later we visit the Monjas church, shown in the photo above in the background.  

We stroll by some of the town's old and elegant homes, a few select galleries and folk art boutiques, just to mention some of the sights. We relax at lunch at one of my favorite restaurants.

Many of the streets are so inviting and you later will find yourself walking everywhere!
The market is a favorite stop by all my groups!  Such vivid colors.
Especially the flower section.
One day we will visit Guanajuato, once the richest city in the world due to its silver mining. The colors are breathtaking.
Carlos is telling us about the Teatro Juarez which we will visit along with the home and museum of Diego Rivera and the studio of world-famous ceramist, Gorky Gonzales.
Guanajuato has a very old European feeling to it with its stately mansions.  After a gourmet lunch, we head up the mountain to the church in Valencia with its gold-encrusted altar. 
We'll venture on to Dolores Hidalgo, a small town where virtually everyone is employed in making beautiful ceramics.
Day four, you are in for a treat as we venture just a few miles out of town into the picturesque countryside.  We will visit the home and gallery of Mayer Shacter who has one of the best folk art collections around.  The architecture and landscaping are pretty remarkable too.
We will visit the lush gardens and wildy adorned and brightly-colored tiled studio and home of muralist Anado McLauchlin.    On the way back into town, we will stop at the Sancturary of Atotonilco, often referred to as the Sistine chapel of the Americas because of its ancient and simply wonderful frescos.  We will dine at another of my favorite restaurants, La Chamonix and then to Fabrica La Aurora.  For 90 years the Aurora factory manufactured premium cotton fabrics.  Today, it is the Aurora Art & Design Center where internationally recognized artists exhibit their work and galleries display furniture, interior design treasures, antiques, jewelry, paintings, folk art, linens, accessories and much more.
The next day we will tour the grounds of Rancho Casa Luna and then settle in at one of the hacienda's many kitchens for a cooking class.  
We were having such a good time.  Laura and Matina were preparing the watermelon and arugula salad for our meal.
The last day, take the day off and wander around town by yourself, just shopping or sightseeing.  In the evening, we all meet for drinks and music by Los Comodines (that is if I can find them in town at one of the local cantinas) up on my mirador and then we will go down to the patio and dining room for dinner.

Monday, June 13, I meet you for breakfast at Casa Luna and say my good byes.  One of the ladies on my previous trip said it perfectly, "Superlatives to express how impressed I am with your planning escape me.  Varied and interesting experiences, great food, wonderful company and generous hospitality certainly made for a super trip!"

Please join me for my next and only tour in 2011. 
I have already started to take reservations.
The dates are June 7 - 13.

Single Occupancy:  $2,025
Double occupancy:  $1,725 per person

(Price includes lodging, all breakfasts, four lunches, two dinners,
tours, cooking class and transportation to and from
the Leon airport - June 7 - 13, 2011)

You may reach me at:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fountains, fountains and more fountains

One of the most prominent architectural features in San Miguel de Allende is its fountains, known as a pilas. You will find fountains on street corners, in the city's numerous plazas, courtyards of private home, restaurants, chapels... all so different.
The Bellas Artes above has a charming fountain with the interior lined with blue and white talavera tile and a stone carving of a lamb on its top.
The French Park has numerous fountains through out its gardens.  It is such a pleasant spot to go for a walk and on the weekends, there is a farmer's market and artist displaying their works.
I would have to say the most photographed fountain in town is at then north end of Calle Aldama.  This is an older photo.  Presently the interior of the fountain is painted white but I much prefer the blue.
A colorful fountain with some funky tile.

I enjoy putting roses in and around the fountain in the front patio of my casa.  I love the sound of the fountain with the water splashing out of the lion's mouth.

The fountain in the jardin, the main square, is always running and such a pleasant sight on a cool day.
At the corner of Pila Seca and Zacateros is an imposing fountain dedicated to "the memory of the illustrious Leader of Liberty, C. Ignacio Allende."  (A la memoria del Varon ilustre Primer Caudillo La Libertad, C. Ignacio Allende).  1848.
A close-up of Allende's fountain with the commingled stone fish spouting water.
The fountain in front of the San Francisco church is a favorite among the local pigeons.  Children can not resist it either.  Children can not pass up the opportunity to drag their hands through the water as they walk by with their parents on the way to church or further on to the market.  I don't blame them.
A fountain with a different look can be found at the corner of Hospicio and Recreo.  It was dedicated to the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force, a group of P-47 fighter pilots who fought in the Southwest Pacific area.  This was Mexico's only military group that participated overseas in combat in World War II.
On Calle Diez de Sollano, this plump face blows a jet of water into the fountain.

The large and rather impressive fountain is the main focal point in the grandiose courtyard at the Instituto Allende.  The Instituto was originally built in 1736 as the country retreat for the Canal family.  The massive floral arrangement was left over from a wedding that had been held on the grounds over the weekend

Dianne Kushner, owner of Rancho Casa Luna (and Casa Luna B & B where my groups stay) designed and had this four foot wide cantera (stone) disc hand carved with a spout in the middle.  It is on the main floor of her Rancho and it is so soothing to hear and see the water gurgling out of it.  So simple but so elegant.
I will be over in Patzcuaro with my Artisan & Architecture group in a few weeks.  The humongous fountain in Patzcuaro's Plaza de Vasco de Quiroga is just beautiful with the statue of Don Vasco in the center.  I particularly like the carved relief of the stone acanthus leaves that embellish the fountain's exterior.

This quaint fountain can be found to the right of the doors that lead into the little chapel at the Hacienda de Landetta, located just a few miles out of town on the road to Dr. Mora.  I will be taking my Artisan & Architecture group there for a special comida (lunch).
Another pretty fountain that is in a small courtyard garden of a newly renovated home on Calle Reloj.  The owner, Elicia, turned her home into a charming little restaurant, Cafe Buenas Dias. 
Another grand daddy of a fountain, part of Plaza Civica between the La Salud Church and La Oratorio Church.  Originally fountains were purely functional, supplying water to the town's people.  Today, they they still provide water to a few.  To me, they are one of many aspects of San Miguel that makes this town so beautiful.