Setting of 1867
There has been a
lot of negative publicity about Mexico and I am not here to say that
this is the perfect Eden, but I’m back in the eastern mountains of
Mexico for a winter in the sun and for me, it’s the place to be. There
has been a lot of publicity about the warring drug cartels and the news
has hurt. But still, there are tourists here from many countries and
people seem to be going about their business with smiles on their faces
and hope in the air.
No, it’s not
perfect. There was a murder in San Miguel this year of an 85 year old
American and the publicity cut deeply. Even the government was aghast
over the sad event but there are murders and crime everywhere and this
unfortunate event had nothing to do with drugs. Locals, in San Miguel,
are outraged that their bustling economy should be weakened by the
press’s desire to sensationalize. Last year it was the H1N1 that people
feared. There is always something.
Yet, we returned
to our winter mountain home euphoric with the idea that we were out of
the snow, the wind and sub-zero temperatures of Montreal. The only
difficulty we had so far was a forty-five minute delay trying to take
off from Chicago. From the time we left to the time of this writing, all
has gone well. After a nice lunch with friends at noon, my wife went off
to play tennis while returned to the quiet of our city center rental to
send out this message.
Last night we had
a lovely Italian dinner near the main square or Hardin after seeing a
local folkdance troupe perform at the library theatre. On the weekend we
enjoyed a musical light and sound show cast against the outside of the
main cathedral, the paroquia. In Thursday, a lecture on Memory helped us
understand the mystery of ageing as Prof. Joseph Schmidt from Montreal’s
Mcgill University brought a wealth of information to an audience from
all over North America. At that lecture, I met people from my home city
who I never knew before. Everyone talked to each other. It was like
going to a club meeting.
Then, as I
explained to an art dealer in Juarez Park that I couldn’t buy one of his
paintings since I would be busy packing my belongings for a move to
Vancouver, a stranger behind me asked, “Did you say Vancouver. We’re
from Vancouver.” We talked, exchanged cards and Email addresses and
would get together some day. Little did I know that ‘someday’ turned out
to be the next day when by chance, we met again and even talked about
playing bridge together in the future.
No. I do
not feel threatened here. As a matter of fact there is so much
to do in such a colourful place, I fret for the day when I’ll
have to leave. But many friends from home haven’t even
arrived yet. We have a dinner scheduled for 16 friends to
celebrate a birthday. This morning a neighbour came over. He and
his wife moved here from Oregon. He rents a fully furnished
apartment for under $1000 a month and pointed out there are good
rentals for as low as $700. But it depends how far you want to
be from the crowded center. Many of the rentals include
fireplace and stove gas, electricity and maid service.
have started to rise but not only in rent. Bread, drinks,
restaurants,, vegetables and so on are rising too, but very
slowly. An average lunch is about $12 including soup or salad,
coffee and (often) desert.
Bus rides are
about 45 cents. They were only 5 cents cheaper last year and taxis from
most points are 43-4 at most. You can ride out to one of giant food
stores or even Walmart’s and take a taxi home with your purchases, all
for under $6 (US) return.
|I check a sales list for
houses or condos to buy. I saw a nice one bedroom unit with
terrace for only $72,000 but there are others that go for two
million or more. Some people buy a property, use it seasonally
and rent it at other times. There are agencies ready to manage
your property or keep it secure while you are home or away.
We all have different needs.
Some dwellings have swimming pools on or near the property. Some
are close to the library, Arts Center or one of the parks. Some
are farther away on golf courses where it might be easier if you
had a car.
travel Agencies that offer inexpensive tours for a few days to
Cuba or even to Peru. There are day trips to neighbouring towns
like Queretaro or Guanajuato and shuttles to Leon or Mexico City
airports for a reasonable cost where you are picked up at your
Typical colourful entree
Art classes are
available for short or long durations as are language courses. Many
natives speak some English but knowing their language helps a lot. There
are music bands nightly on the square, concerts, story-telling, writing
conferences, meetings with celebrated writers, art classes, discussion
groups, play reading, an art and design center and library English book
sales. Even the crafts are unique, colourful and available on most
streets, from straw hats to native shawls, skirts, furniture, sculpture
or games and even replicas of skeletons and skulls. The latter is almost
a must in Mexico, especially in November around the famous ‘Day of the
On Fridays, one
can purchase the English newspaper Atencion which outlines in detail,
the events that would take place for the week ahead. You can find them
paper also has lists of restaurants and real estate agents as well as
artists whose studios are open to the public.
This past week
the celebrated what they call Candelaria an outpouring of color and
fragrant odors married to native music on a gigantic stage. This event
is set in the large and lovely Park Jaurez and attracts hundreds of
is a Chilli cook-off with rodeo or a craft and jewellery show at the
This is a
favourite of mine that includes music, refreshments and a wonderful view
of the main center of the city.
There is no way a
person can be bored. You can just sit in the shade of a sculptured tree
in the Jardin and read, watch the kids play and the balloon salesmen
saunter by. All the while blue and white uniformed police on horseback
circle the area in case they are needed.
San Miguel has
good medical practitioners, dentists, ophthalmologists, drugstores and
ambulance and police service.
streets are crowded and the traffic often knotted, but you get used to
it since the city is giving so much back. I really can’t think of a
better place during the winter months.
There is wireless
computer hook up, American channels on TV and places where you can rent
or buy CDs or videos.
I was pleasantly
surprised when I recently read of a survey that reported that of all the
popular places in the world for travel, San Miguel is in the top five.
But don’t take my word for it. Come on down. You may even meet some of
our friends from back home.
Final resting place of Maxmilian in
Street colors are inviting
My final message
today is that especially in the mountain towns, the country is as safe
or safer than most. Sure, things happen, but they happen everywhere,
even at home.
active, colourful and busy. You may go with trepidation but most people
dream of returning. I certainly will.
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)