From the previous post you now know we flew to San Miguel to meet up with friends from my hometown Virginia Beach. The five of us stayed in a little B&B owned by Antonio and Lee, the latter a former classmate of Carter. For three of the group–Carter, Ellen and Bobbi–this was a return visit as many who stay at this inn return to soak up the ambiance of its setting. And, it’s easy to see why when you find yourself enjoying the views of historical San Miguel with one’s morning coffee and evening cocktails.
Nestled into the hillside Casa Cinco Patios (aptly named as you can see from at least one of our R&R spots)
is conveniently located within an easy (downhill) walk to El Jardin, San Miguel’s main square. A walk we advidly took when leaving
while sometimes opting for a $2.50 cab ride when contemplating the alternative on the return home.
However, the exercise tended to offset the breakfasts and other fabulous meals (and libations)
we managed to ingest. Lee booked us into some of his favorite restaurants, all spectacular. One in particular had Max trying to identify the delectable flavors created by the chef.
Lee also introduced us to audio delights. At least that’s what I’m calling what hit my ears when listening to Gil Guitérrez, a classically trained guitarist.
He created sounds reminiscent of the new age compositions produced by Windham Hill musicians in the 80s and 90s along with jazz and blues. From soothing melodies to knee-tapping tunes, Gil with two violinists and a bass player entertained us at Rancho Zandunga, a venue he and his wife created a short way out of town.
Sipping mescal margaritas
and feasting on homemade tacos
we swayed to the live music until none of us could resist the dance floor when a singer joined the band, so up we got to join in the swirling and whirling.
Fortunately this wasn’t our only occasion to appreciate Gil’s music. A second time occurred at Gil’s restaurant in town with Max and Carter hearing him a third time at a Hospice Fund Raiser organized by Lee.
All of us left San Miguel holding musical memories in the forms of CDs; and, some of us left with not only Gil’s music but also one of the violinists, David Mendoza. As Lee said one of Gil’s gifts is bringing together talented musicians, a gift that benefits all who have the opportunity to hear this music.
And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention we had a musician among us, one who is fearless in requesting to share a song or two when spotting a fellow entertainer.
San Miguel offers other delights such as strolling down (while playing chicken on the one-body-width sidewalks with oncoming walkers) and peeking into the shops straddling the narrow lanes in the historical district. Fortunately, after several days we all seemed to adjust to the 6,000+ foot altitude making the uphill walking a bit easier from the heart-thumping climbs earlier in the week.
And, stroll and peek we did
while taking numerous photos, which also occurs when keeping company with three artists consciously and unconsciously on the lookout for future painting scenes.
I, too, couldn’t help but snap one photo after another. No sooner did I finish framing and clicking one scene than my eye spotted another, repeating the exercise all over again.
Towards the day’s end, we always circled back to the Le Jardin
with some unable to resist the food carts selling roasted corn on the cob.
As a fairly upscale ex-pat community it’s not as if we woke up with roosters crowing or saw a lot of livestock on the streets, with the exception of a donkey here and there and the pups napping
or looking for a bite of my pastry
purchased at one of our favorite bakeries (whose sign I loved along with their goods).
But, thanks to Bobbi, we did have chickens :) And, since friends with similar senses of humor flock together, Bobbi’s chickens provided week-long entertainment,
especially with Sharon’s, Ellen’s and Bobbi’s posing of them…
Our last full day Lee carted us off to a fantastical art spectacle, one hosted at the home and studio of partners Anado McLaughlin and his husband Richard Schultz. Before we landed, though, we stopped at one of Lee’s favorite road stands for a gordita.
The cooks kindly demonstrated how to make corn pockets filled with a choice of chicken, beef, or pork and veggies. FYI, they add a pinch of meat to the dough before pressing it into a pocket tortilla in case anyone thinks they’re getting just a veggie gordita.
We tried the spicy sauce poured into a large bowl on each table; but, seriously, one-quarter of a teaspoon was more than enough to fry the mouth, even for Max.
Fortified with another tasty meal, two minutes later we arrived at the art scene, and what a kaleidoscope of color. Talk about an eye blast!
Called The Chapel of Jimmy Ray (Anado’s given name is James Rayburn McLauchlin, III), the gallery showed the work of three artists–Ann Chamberlain, Diane Varney, and Anado.
We could only peer in the windows of the house…
but did see the composting toilet…
wandered around the landscaped surroundings…
and toured the gallery next door.
In one of the galleries the two owners graciously accepted visitors’ requests for a portrait,
which just happened to mimic a painted one.
Now, couldn’t you see Steve Martin’s ‘Wild and Crazy Guy’ persona here?
The three artists, Ellen, Bobbi and Sharon, had actually sketched a few days before with the Urban Sketchers in San Miguel, and a busload of them were here as well adding their own interpretation to the day’s event.
Since this was Ellen’s kind of place, I asked her to strike a pose. She didn’t say she could live here but would definitely love to have them as neighbors.
An hour later we found ourselves back at Casa Cinco Patios where Max, Sharon and I had committed to seeing something that is part of the Spanish culture–a bullfight.
We lasted one fight and that was more than enough to say none of us would ever want to experience that again. The only consolation was seeing the bull fight back, and almost win.
The three of us then shared a meal in town where we listened to an energetic duo while sharing huge platefuls of excellent Mexican fare.
The next morning we all took the airport taxi back to Leon where we had landed eight days earlier. Sharon had a later flight but the rest of us flew to Atlanta where we had one last hurrah at a piano bar.
A plane ride to Portland carried Max and me back to Maine where we woke up to snow and to really missing our amigos resulting in dos pollos fríos muy tristes.