Thursday, November 05, 2009

The gags of San Miguel

We take road trips quite frequently and last week was busy in Patzcuaro, with all the hoopla for the Day of the Dead, traffic is usually nightmare and we have a good friend that built a cute little 3 story house in San Miguel de Allende, and invited us back!

Who were we to say no to an warm initiation like that?

So since we had the invitation and we were told that the autopista had been finished around Celaya, there was a perfect opportunity to go.

And go we did.

It is only about 240 kilometers from Patzcuaro and it was basically about 2 and 3/4 hours journey, with one stop on the way. A breeze.

San Miguel is a haven of gringo expatriates. There are tons of blogs about daily life there, I admit to reading at least a half dozen quite regularly.
I read for the social aspect of it, not for any entertainment value I may find reading about the present residents and their daily trials and tribulations.

We have been to SMA several times, but never on the Day of the Dead week. I was hoping to remove myself from stumbling on altars at every doorway and cubby as we walked around the centro.
I was not disappointed.

In all my explorations, most of which were either zapaterias, boutiques or gift shops  ( I was following my wife and managing the peso supply)  we did not see one altar.

I did manage to see one a few doors down from one of the worst meals I have ever had in Mexico. ( Ok not the worst, but one of the worst)

The building was a few doors down from where all the police hangout across the street from bench city.

So,  my question is why is there such a disparity between Michoacan and Guananjuato?

In Michoacan, every little tope city, has displays and exhibits either with altars and some memorials.

SMA only seemed to have Katrinas, which were in the shops more as a sales item than anything to do with the Holyday.

Interesting.........very Interesting.

Maybe someone will shed some light on the subject, my assumption is that Michoacan is more heavily inundated with Indian rituals and traditions and therefore garners yet another day of celebration and a reason not to show up for work the next day.

With the autopista complete, we will be jaunting over more often, a 2 and a half hour trip to visit friends and but some useless bobbles and trinkets is acceptable........you know, leave a peso here, one there.
We were impressed with the Starbucks on the corner of the plaza. Felipe had mentioned that it was a cushy plus little place with a purpose. I will have to agree, it was a nice change, having a consistent cup of joe each time we venture in.
Pricey to Mexican standards, but it had no trouble having people toss pesos on to the cash register's counter.

One thing I did notice is the ridiculously high prices of the furniture for sale there. We visited a place that we had purchased items for the house, when we were building it years ago. The had on display a hand made pine (one of the cheapest woods around) table and chairs. The price for each chair was 10000 pesos. Yep, both myself and my wife asked the price just to confirm.....The set for the table and 6 chairs was over 90000 pesos.
I would venture to guess the majority of their business is from someone first coming into town, needing to furnish a place Carte Blanche........Those rich gringos....... (is there still a Carte Blanche credit card, again dating myself)

The shops come and go, lots of same stuff we saw a few years back, but all in all it seems like a nice place to live (hint, hint Mr.C ) lot's of purpose in life, even if you have to fight to gain a seat in the plaza now and then.
We had a few great meals and one awful one.
One of the better ones was a few blocks away from my host's home, on the main drag and  Pila Seca, it was an Argentinian style restaurant called Payo, they had absolutely the best sweetbreads I have ever had. Usually sweetbreads are swimming in a heavy cream sauce of some kind, these were grilled and included nicely caramelized grilled onions. It was so good that we even considered getting another order........

The worst breakfast place was a restaurant across the street from the plaza that on first pass looked promising. It was located about two doors down, towards Starbucks from the Police station.
Awful, simply awful. We usually order the fruit plate to share as a starter, and it had no taste to it at all. My attempt at Eggs Benedict were cold, with a off tasting sauce and bland. My wife's eggs had cold and overly mushy beans along with stale chips and day old tortillas.

After walking around it looks like we should have gone to the corner cafe up the street from Starbucks across the plaza.......

Maybe next time.

9 comments:

Babs said...

The altars are not put up til the night before Dia de los Muertos. There were not many this year.....
BEFORE you come next time let me know and I'll send you a list of GREAT restaurants here - none of which is near the main jardin. You will be thrilled and delighted, I promise.
PLUS I want to meet you and the missus for a cafecito........

Steve Cotton said...

Hint noted. Any place that has terrible food will most likely have great food somewhere else. Part of my karma gourmand theory.

Felipe said...

Alas, the preposterous price for that pine furniture is the result of the Gringo population. With lots of luck, the cold weather here in P√°tzcuaro will keep them (and the resultant prices) at bay.

My fingers are crossed.

Constantino (Tancho) said...

Babs, since the drive is a breeze now, and we have nice lodgings available to us and we are starting to get the lay of the land better, I am sure we will return...you can count on that phone call for the cafecito or perhaps a toddie!
Ah, Steve, there are tons of cute houses amass, with nice kitchens, super fast Internet connections and a waiting space on one of the benches on the plaza for your philosophical additions....
Felipe, it was entertaining to say the least, knowing that some new resident will fill their abode with overpriced pine, that probably originated in Michoacan...as they say there is a "customer" born every minute...
And you are right, it is waaayy to cold for those folks....

Felipe said...

I´m surprised you haven´t taken that route before. It opened almost two years ago! Sure makes going to SMA simpler.

Constantino (Tancho) said...

The last time we went was a little over two years ago and our detour around Celaya cost us at least an extra hour,or so. It must have been during the construction....
That was one of the reasons we had not returned. Knowing it is a hop skip and jump, we will buzz there more frequently to laugh at the sky high prices people pay for things.......

Billie said...

I was talking with a Mexican friend yesterday and he was telling me that in SMA the tradition is that you go put flowers on the graves but then you gather in the home to feast on the favorite food and drinks of the departed....well the favorite food and drinks before they departed.

There were altars on the street around the Jardin. Some of them had been put up by the 31st.

And you are right the cost for furniture is too, too high here. But there are some good restaurants. We have several in our neighborhood. The neighborhood restaurants are the best.

Constantino (Tancho) said...

Billie, Sounds like the SMA tradition is more Americanized, that is what the people that I was exposed to at least in the South did. So maybe it is rubbing off there. To me it sound more respectful than tromping around on graves with a lot of drunk lookielous.
And who is to blame for the high prices of furniture other than the customers....?
I will be sure and touch base with a few locals before our next jaunt to your nice town, so that we don't get touristized on the restaurant scene......

Billie said...

I don't know about SMA's day of the dead being americanized. I certainly didn't feel that way about the Yucatan when we were there back in the late 1980's-90's. They decorated the graves, a mass in the cemetery but had a comida at home. I have the impression that a large part of Mexico doesn't sit in the cemetery all night. Even some of the villages around the lake don't sit in the cemetery at night. But certainly the places where there is an all night vigil draws the photographers and attention.