Monday, March 31, 2008

Ghost Towns, Gold & Silver Mines, and Good Food

We took a drive to Mineral de Pozos. It is about a 45 minutes drive from San Miguel de Allende.

Less than 100 years ago it was a flourishing gold, copper and silver mining town. But when the mines were depleted, the population dwindled, leaving abandoned houses and mines.

When we first drove into town, it didn't look too bad, as you can see from the first picture below.

But as we drove deeper into town we discovered that it truly was a ghost town. Almost all the streets were completely deserted. We saw very few people around, mostly near the main street of town. We tried to find a guide to take us into the mine shafts, but there were none around. One guy gave me directions to the mines and said we may find a guide there. He said he was a guide himself, but today he was too busy. So we drove several kilometers out of town on a dusty dirt road, only to find even more abandoned settlements.

We never did find a guide, or the mines for that matter; but saw some eery, yet awesome scenery. It was a little spooky driving around in the dead silence of the area and seeing nothing but ghostly remains of days gone by.

We did, however, find an oasis in the midst of it all. Posada de Las Minas is a small hotel with rooms above and a courtyard restaurant on the lower level. It was a welcome retreat and the food was wonderful.
The poblano pepper and corn soup was a delight.
I had grilled fish with a spicy tomato, pepper and garlic sauce, topped with olives, along with veggies and Spanish rice. It was just as good as the soup.
Ron had a huge steak, salad and french fries. He said it was the best steak he has ever had.

I imagine some tourists come through Mineral de Pozos to see the abandoned mines, but it is a bit off the beaten path. I can't imagine that the hotel and restaurant do a booming business though. Even so, the food was fresh, well prepared and delicious.
Mexico looks more fascinating every day.
Gypsy Girl

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Woman in Mexican History

We took a drive to Querétero. The one hour drive through fertile hills and fields with mountains in the background was worth the trip.
Querétero is much larger than San Miguel de Allende. It is a great city for exploringWith its wide pedestrian ways beautiful fountains, sprawling plazas, impressive churches

An impressive aqueduct from the 1700‘s, nearly a mile long with 74 arches that still provides water to the city.

The beautiful jacarandas are in full bloom all over this part of Mexico. The flowers fill the sky like soft clouds of purple.

The monument to Doña Josefa Ortíz de Domíngez was my favorite sight. She was the wife of the mayor. She was a mover and a shaker who played a big part in the independence of Mexico.
She secretly plotted at candlelight meetings, under the guise of a literary club with the patriots in their fight for independence from the Spanish crown.

It is said that her husband became suspicious of her activities, so he imprisoned her under lock and key in her room. But Dona Josefa dramatically rescued the overthrow plan by tapping her heel on the floor and got the attention of her faithful servant, whispering through a keyhole she told him that the plan to overthrow the government had been found out. The servant immediately stole away on horseback and rode through the night to inform the revolutionaries. The rest as they say is history.

Another great day in Mexico!
Gypsy Girl

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Botanical Garden of San Miguel de Allende - A Pleasant Surprise

The Botanical garden in San Miguel de Allende is marked only by a tiny unassuming sign and is situated at the end of a long, winding, bumpy dirt road.

By looking at the little sign, you wouldn’t think it was worth the trouble to check it out. But I am sure glad we took the time. It turned out to be a very pleasurable day.

The garden consists of 220 acres of magnificent landscape dedicated to the preservation of nature and home to nearly over 800 species of cacti and other flora.
It is situated on a hilltop overlooking an impressive canyon, Charco de Ingenio (Pool of ingenuity), a huge dam and a reservoir. The views are really spectacular.
The cacti and flora are displayed in manicured gardens, in a conservatory and in a natural setting along 6 miles of hiking trails.

This monument commemorates the park as a Peace Zone by the Dalai Lama during his visit to Mexico in 2004.

The quotation on the monument reads:

"Like the waves of water, the vibration of the zones of peace produce a movement that, in a future not so far off, will create a new consciousness in humanity, a consciousness of peace"

Dalai Lama

The Tibetan prayer flags blow gently in the breeze. It is said that the wind, like the mind, carries the blessings throughout the countryside and across the world.
The sun, wind and rain have faded and worn the prayer flags… “a subtle reminder that all things are impermanent or temporary.”

Enjoy every moment

Gypsy Girl

Monday, March 24, 2008

Domingo de Pascua - Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday started early in San Miguel de Allende with fireworks rumbling like thunder throuhgout the night and the church bell pealing racously in the wee hours announcing "Christ has risen".

The streets were quiet during my morning walk, but the churches were filled to overflowing while families attended masses celebrating the joy of the resurrection.
Then at 11AM more rumbling of fireworks announcing the "Firing of the Judases".

We joined the thousands that gathered to enjoy this most light hearted of events of Holy Week.

It is all fun and laughs as brightly colored 6 feet tall figures representing Judas are strung high over the street. The figures are made of crepe paper and papier mache and have fireworks strung around their waists.

The fuses are lit and each Judas is set on fire, dancing and flipping around with sparks flying; then Judas explodes with a final loud bang. The crowds cheer as each Judas explodes and arms and legs go flying.

"The tradion of the Judases goes back to Colonial times, brought to the New World by the priests from Spain to teach the people about Judas" betrayal of Christ. They were meant to give quite visible and tangible proop that you never really get away with that sort of bad behavior. there are consequences.

But this is Mexico, and no one wants to be serious today. So once mass is over Easter in San Miguel is fun, family and food."

Happy Easter from San Miguel de Allende

Gypsy Girl

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jueves Santo - Holy Thursday

There have been so many events going on in San Miguel de Allende during Semana Santa (Holy Week) to see and Holy Thursday is no acceptation.

The vendors and food stalls have been setting up all week under white tents, in parks, next to churches or along the streets in anticipation of the thousands of faithful and spectators that are participating in or watching the events of Holy Week.

There is no lack of items to buy and all kinds of food to eat from snacks to entire meals. All the food stalls are tempting. Everything looks yummy! On Thursday evening I joined thousands, strolling the streets and waited in long lines visiting the Siete Casas (seven houses). It is a tradition to visit the seven major churches in San Miguel to see how lavishly decorated the altars are, in anticipation of Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar.

This elegant Mexican woman sits in front of one of the churchs, waiting? praying?
or is she just enjoying a moment of peace and silence?

I have been trying to go to as many events as I can, but it is nearly impossible to keep up with the Mexicans. They celebrate Semana Santa with such devotion, passion and joy and an endless amount of energy.

It has been a wonderful and heartwarming experience to be here to witness the rich tradition and expression of faith of the beautiful Mexican people during this holy season.

I wish you peace, love and laughter

Gypsy Girl

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday Market

Although we have a great market at the bottom of our street that we shop at every day and it supplies us with all of our fresh fruits and vegetables, and lots more, there is an open air market that sets up every Tuesday in San Miguel de Allende that is quite an experience to go to.

It covers several acres of land and I think you could spend days wandering through the market and not see everything.

We spent Tuesday morning there, along with thousands of people; Mexicans, tourists and “ex-pats” alike. It was fascinating to stroll through row after row of stalls as vendors, mostly indigenous people hawked there wares.

Three young girls work together to make fresh tortillas.

Just look at these luscious strawberries stacked perfectly, how can one resist!

Every kind of goods you can imagine was available for purchase. There were plenty of food stalls cooking everything from soups, to tacos to whole fried fish, and more. The temptation was to much so we had to stop at least a few places try something to eat. You just grab any seat that is available and eat with the locals. The fish and shrimp were yummy! Then we found another stall that had some great looking soups, so of course we had to try it! I am glad we did, it was excellent!

I can see that I will be spending my Tuesdays at the Tuesday Market. It was a very festive atmosphere. And I am finding out that the Mexicans do everything with passion, flair and exuberance.
May all your days be joyful

Gypsy Girl

Monday, March 17, 2008

Celebration In The Air

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week and it was celebrated in San Miguel de Allende by thousands of faithful and tourists. It was a day of excitement, as people crowded the streets in remembrance of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

Vendors, mostly indigenous women, arrived early in front of the churches to weave and sell palm fronds woven into all manner of religious symbols. We stopped at each one and found it difficult to choose, so we bought several to carry home as souvenirs of this glorious day. Ann is holding just a few of our purchases.

We enjoyed the two joyful processions. The first, with a young man, representing Jesus in rough tunic and sandals and “a beard grown especially for the event” rode a donkey down through the streets and into the church of San Francisco. He was followed by 12 apostles and hundreds of followers shouting “Viva Cristo Rey” (Christ the King lives). The church bells clamorously pealed as Christ and his followers filed into church for mass.

In another touching procession at the Parroquia, Christ is a statue on a donkey, carried on shoulders through the streets and into the church for a mass. This procession was followed by nearly a thousand faithful, dressed in costume or there best clothes, waving palm fronds; while another thousand or so tourists and locals gathered in the streets and parks to enjoy the procession, amid the sound of trumpets, drums, and pealing church bells.

The streets and parks of San Miguel de Allende were filled with people. They celebrated in churches and in the streets with food, music and fireworks, from early morning until late into the night.

We are thoroughly enjoying being caught up in the the excitement of the way Mexicans celebrate this religious holiday week.

I wish you peace, love and laughter

Gypsy Girl

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Night of Altars

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is celebrated in a big way in the villages and towns of Mexico, but particularly in San Miguel de Allende.
One of these special Lenten traditions, is the Feast day of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows)or Viernes de Dolores (Friday of Sorrows).
It is a prelude to the coming Holy Week, and honors the Mother of Christ in her desolation at the foot of the cross, with processions, masses, and altars.
All over San Miguel de Allende beautiful altars are erected in churches, private homes and public places to remind us of Mary's pain and grief and that she is considered the greatest of all martyrs. “She gladly experienced this lifetime of sorrow so believers could receive her Son’s ultimate gift, the grace of redemption.

Last night along with hundreds of people we strolled the cobblestones streets of San Miguel de Allende admiring some of these magnificent altars ranging from simple and humble to spectacular and elaborate creations. All who wished to visit the altars were invited into some of the old colonial homes and the homeowners gave visitors ice cream, fruit drinks and other treats. (Even though they look like churches, all of these photos were taked in private homes, and most are only a portion of the erected shrine).

Even for those who are not religious, it was a very moving experience to see how the Mexicans celebrate this special day devoted to the Mother of Christ. It is not to be missed if you find yourself in Mexico during this holiest of Holy Christian seasons.

Another perfect day in San Miguel de Allende.

Gypsy Girl