Posted by: ktzefr | March 24, 2010

Mornings in San Miguel de Allende…with the Jacarandas in Bloom

“Mientras dura, vida y dulzura.” While life yet lasts, laughter and molasses. ~ Mexican proverb from Folk Wisdom of Mexico, edited by Jeff M. Sellers

Two years ago, a breath away…

Fireworks boom.  Church bells ring.  Dogs bark.  Somewhere music is playing.  It’s morning in San Miguel de Allende.

I roll over in bed and check the time…a little passed six o’clock!  Who gets up this early to light the wicks, ring the bells, play music, set the dogs to barking?  The next blast sounds like it’s right behind our casita.  Bright light flashes outside the terrace doors.

When I walk out to have a look, the sweet scent of jasmine floats in on the breeze.  The gardens are full of blooms, ripening fruit, thick green foliage.  People walk to work in the street, paying no mind to the revelers on the hillside; the snowy egrets that roost high in the pecan trees stretch and spread their wings.  They don’t seem to mind all this noise either.  For the locals, it’s just another day, another fiesta.

Today is the festival of Santa Cruz.   In this historic town (a UNESCO World Heritage site) in the high chaparral of Mexico’s central mountains, there are at least fifty “official” fiestas every year!  I imagine that more than two-weeks of downtime in this town could be cause for depression.  Some of the best celebrations: Day of the Dead in November; Semana Santa during Holy Week; Los Locos, similar to Carnival; Cinco de Mayo; Indpendence Day in September; New Year’s Eve — and these hardly scratch the surface.

San Miguel is a place to slow down, unwind, wander…and wonder.  At the ancient buildings and narrow streets —  without stop lights or neon signs…at the historic sites and stories.  Mexico’s War of Independence from Spain began here and the city is nestled amongst the other great colonial silver-mining cities.  The elevation is over a mile above sea level with thinner air, calling for a slower pace.   It also calls for the agility to navigate cobblestones the size of a kid’s head while walking straight uphill or down; the town is vertical!

The only flat terrain is around the town plaza, the Jardin, and it’s also the most popular spot in town, day and night.  Vendors selling ice cream, tortillas, corn-on-the-cob with butter and mayo and lime.  Young girls parading around the perimeter looking for boys; Mexican cowboys riding into town on horseback, picking up girls.  Giant puppets, boys selling cotton candy, mariachi bands on every corner.  The lollipop-shaped laurel trees full of night birds.  Young women with babies, old women with smiles.  And always, everywhere music and laughter…

If I had to describe San Miguel in one word, it would be color — in the clothes and the houses and the markets and the flowers…in the costumes and the food and the art and the landscape.  Like those tasty-sounding names they give nowadays to crayons — tangerine, mango, ripe cherries, plum.  Everywhere in San Miguel color dominates the scenery, and in late March the color is blue.  Or is it purple?  Violet? Periwinkle? The real “treasure” of the Sierra Madre might just be the jacarandas…

…and the children of Casa Hogar Santa Julia!


As the morning sun peeks over the Sierra Madre, the fireworks and church bells and barking dogs continue.  Parrots across the garden practice their wolf whistles; turtles in the turtle pond swim just below the surface, catching the sunlight on their backs; cats are on the prowl, searching for handouts.  From the main house, welcome sounds enter the mix: the rattling of pots and pans, ring of silver on china.  Coffee’s ready!

Check out Tony Cohan’s On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel… still one of the best reads about this part of Mexico.  To order, click here.


To Come and Go Like Magic ~ Set in Appalachia in the 1970s, the story follows a young girl and her dreams of seeing the world.  The butterflies migrate from the hills of Kentucky to the hills of Mexico; the eels, born in the Sargasso Sea, head northward and live for years in foreign waters before making the long trek back home; people, too, leave and return.  The journey makes all the difference.  For ages 10 to adult.

Buy now in hardcover, paperback, or E-book:  Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, Amazon, or your favorite local bookstore.



  1. Found your blog at the bottom of my post on San Miguel churches. Your pictures are breathtaking. Brought back so many good memories. I was there in 1998 and again in 1999 on an art trip.

    • Thanks! I do have other posts on San Miguel de Allende, but I love the jacarandas best. This is the best time of year to visit because those blooms are so amazing. You should think about heading back! 🙂

  2. I have to agree with stargazer12; the pictures are beautiful. Can you tell me what street the picture ‘san miguel 045’ is? I don’t recognize it.

    • Thanks Hugh. The photos on this blog post were taken ten years ago and I have been frustrated trying to remember exactly where I took this one. The many times I’ve been to San Miguel I have looked for this view as I walked the streets and no luck. We were staying on Recreo and I was sure I’d taken it from that street, but no. I tried Google Earth with no luck. Then I noticed the red street lamps, no power lines across the street…and tried Balcones. We had done the House and Garden tour and walked back after the last house. Voila! The photo was taken from Calle Montitlan and Calle del Foro, but not exactly. From the intersection with Calle del Foro you have to walk downhill on Montitlan a house or two to get the exact view with the Parroquia included.

      • Great; thanks. We’ll be back in SMA later this week and will definitely check it out.

      • Enjoy! I look forward to heading in that direction again, too.

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