SMA--The Adventure Continues
What to do?
San Miguel offers great opportunities for long walks on cobblestone streets, climbing up and down the hilly town. If you have a camera with you, it's nearly impossible to not pause every few minutes to snap a new sight, or another view of the Parroquia, the Gaudi-like cathedral in the Jardin--the town square. On our own, after the Macors returned to WA, we embraced a laid back routine. Most mornings, I made coffee and we did some work on our computers. Several days a week we headed to the bridge studio after lunch, which was a round trip walk of about an hour and ten minutes. From our fellow bridge players, we learned about the movies in a bar at Cine Bacco. This was an awesome find, current Academy Award Best Picture nominees, in a 24 seat theater. The price of admission for two, less than $8 US, included a drink and popcorn! It was a real treat to catch up on these great movies right before the Awards themselves. The theater itself is actually inside the Bar at Hotel Bacco, where we ate a great dinner one night after the movies.
Adventures in dining
SMA provided several opportunities for dining adventures. Hosting many fine dining restaurants requiring reservations, the city also gave us several delicious and fun meals.
Barbacoa--yes, we do love barbacoa, pit roasted baby lamb. Based on a waiter's recommendation, we ventured to El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiote, Calle Estacion 112, a restaurant that is a completely outdoor space, complete with dirt floors. The restaurant manager Pilar is the wife of El Pato, the chef, and together they have a created a delicious and delightful space. By the way, on the 30 minute walk, Paul considered buying a new motorcycle.
Once settled in, Pilar secured a couple of clandestine cervezas and proceeded to guide us through the menu. She explained how the pit was dug, lined with maguey leaves, the meat prepared with the house's secret spices, the consomme juices collected, the mixiote--mixed meats topping the last layer of maguey. We sampled the mixiote, the consomme and the barbacoa served with fresh homemade tortillas and a variety of salsas. Delicioso!
Pura Vida--We walked by this hole in the wall restaurant one afternoon and were intrigued b.y the young man dressed in a suit and tie (dressed for success, said Paul) enticing people to come in. Under new management, the restaurant serves produce fresh from the farm of the owner. Intrigued, we returned to sample their fixed menu dinner a few days later. We ordered wine, as we saw bottles on a shelf. It turned out that they did not have their liquor license yet, but the owner literally ran down the street, bought a bottle of wine and borrowed wine glasses and a corkscrew while we waited. We were certainly their first tourists and they wanted to please. Dinner that night was a salad, tacos, water included and strawberries. It was delightful and sooo inexpensive. During the meal we chatted with other patrons, Antonio, the owner, Irais, the delightful waitress, the chef and busboys. When we finished dinner, we were invited to return for a special meal the following Monday, and we invited our new friends Peter and Suzanne from Canada.
When we arrived, wine was waiting for us. Antonio had prepared a special menu for the evening, caldo tlapeno, pechugas cordoblu and strawberries from his farm with cream for dessert. The vegetable-rich soup and the chicken cordonbleu were both expertly prepared. One of the diners we had met on our first visit brought a keyboard and played music. Soon, we were not the only people in the 6-7 table cafe, it was full! It was a great evening, full of warmth and friendship. Antonio was a charming host and entrepreneur, handing out frozen, chocolate covered strawberries to the children passing by Pura Vida. Restaurante Pura Vida, 170 Insurgentes. Following dinner, we invited Suzanne and Peter up to our patio for more wine. It was a memorable evening.
El Buen Cafe--An unexpected burger
Looking for authenticity, we followed a recommendation to visit El Buen Cafe. We took a long walk that included a gallery tour to get and arrived at another gem. Again, we found a fixed menu--cheeseburger or grilled salmon and enjoyed one of each. The owners run the restaurant in the downstairs part of their home. You can sit in their dining room or on the patio. Again, our host went out of his way to please us, taking a quick trip to the market to buy more cerveza. Perfectly prepared grilled salmon and the first burger I had tasted since December arrived after we watched the chef prepare the meal. He put the burger together like a work of art, carefully placing each ingredient. Hamburguesa con queso--Delicioso!
Not just food
In SMA,we found not only food, but also new friends--Cookie and Michael from the bridge studio, Peter and Suzanne, whom we also met through bridge. I shopped just a little, a new hat and a couple of Mexican blouses, I had my hair colored and cut--an adventure for one who is completely addicted to her home hair artiste. We shopped the farmacia for all of our medications for the next three months. We hiked up to the lookout el Mirador, through long, colorful narrow streets. We dined on rooftops. We saw local people doing laundry in an outdoor "laundromat" that has been in existence for hundreds of years. We saw people on foot, donkeys in the street carrying loads, ladies on horseback one evening. We watched the sunset from the terrace of the most luxurious location in SMA, the Rosewood Hotel. We won 3.76 masterpoints in bridge--including 2.1 red points, playing in a regional tournament. We enjoyed a wonderful week with our kids.
Sadly, the only downer of our three week stay, we lost Paul's oldest, most favorite hat, trying to get it repaired at Renovadora del Calzado. The store attendant promised us it would be ready in a week, when we would be in town two more weeks. No, it was not ready on time. We returned twice for her to tell us the same thing and a promise of when it would be ready. After that, the store remain closed for the next two days (not a weekend) and we had to leave. Needless to say, Paul was disappointed.(:-().
All in all, we soaked up the ambience of this colonial city for over three weeks and enjoyed the continued adventure of our vagabond life. Here are many vignettes (132-yikes!--all are my favorites) of our adventures and the beauty of the city--beautiful doors, door knockers and address signs--the glory of nature--Parque Benito Juarez--homes painted with vivid murals--views of the city and of La Parroquia cathedral--15 foot tall giant puppets called Mohigangas--lunch time serenades--trips to the markets--beautiful sunsets--new friends and family. Look for the window with the political message!
Heading back to the states for three weeks to see family, friends and doctors. Then, a transatlantic cruise to Spain. Hope you join us on board the Oceania ship Riviera. Hasta la vista.