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Our route on Day 14.

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Maguey fields NE of Guadalajara.

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Street scene in San Miguel Allende.

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Street scene in San Miguel Allende.

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Bonnie and friend, courtyard in San Miguel Allende.

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Cathedral, San Miguel Allende.

 

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Conifer-Hunting in Mexico

Day 14: Thursday, February 17

We were up before dawn the next morning. All day long, we drove. We were on toll roads almost all the way, and we spent more than a thousand pesos on tolls. We cruised back to Colima, north to Guadalajara, past Leon, and into Guanajuato. Guanajuato looked like a really cool town, a very old silver mining center, built into the side of a mountain, filled with big buildings dating to the glory days of silver in the 1500s and 1600s. But alas, we had no time even to stop the engine, instead ripping out of there on a winding mountain road that took us across a range cloaked in oaks (nary a conifer, bar ornamentals) and down into San Miguel Allende, the Aspen/Beverly Hills of Mexico. The book calls it an artiste community, and perhaps it once was, but it has suffered the usual fate of such places – the patrons and their money have driven out the artistes, leaving a pretty town of galleries, shops, expensive restaurants, and dead souls. Dollars and credit cards will take you everywhere in San Miguel Allende, and that alone set it well apart from every other town we saw in Mexico. The place's charm, though relictual, is undeniable; the architecture is reminiscent of Oaxaca, with narrow winding stone streets and gorgeous, relatively small churches; ornately carved doors and fancy wrought iron; fortresses without shielding gardens within. It's a Mexican thing; if you love something, put a wall around it and a lock on the door, bars on the windows, maybe a chap outside with a machine gun.

We stayed in a fabulous hotel, Posada de las Monjas, that was converted from an old monastery. They made it a bit bigger at one end but kept the motif, which is massive stone walls and big old iron and wood furniture. It had probably the nicest bathroom I've ever seen, a big stone room with a shower curtain and a tile lining installed across one end below a round stained-glass window. Unlike the vast majority of Mexican hotel bathrooms, the shower head emitted actual hot water, and in copious amounts (actually most Mexican showers will technically produce a certain quantity of hot water, but you often have to let it run five minutes to reach a respectable temperature, and then you must move quickly). The rooms all had splendid views out over the town, and were pleasantly cool thanks to walls made of two feet thick rock. This all cost us the princely sum of 700 pesos for three people (about $20 each).

We went out to take the evening air, and immediately found a UPS place that would ship our souvenirs and specimens home–easy access to the mails being one perk of staying in a trendy gallery town. We then found, after some diligent searching, a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that offered moderate prices and typically Mexican food (most places in town are Italian, French or Japanese or at least, not Mexican) and, as I mentioned before, the only margaritas in Mexico made with actual limons.

Continue to Day 15

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Last Modified 2010-12-18