San Miguel de Allende, aka “gringolandia” or “Mexican Disney World” did not sound very appealing to me based on these nicknames. Yes, it’s a stunningly beautiful colonial city and one of the more popular places for Americans retiring in Mexico. I decided I had to see it, if only to cross it off my list of a possible future home.
One thing I’ve learned as a photographer is to look the other way. When you see a group of cameras pointing in one direction, look around you and get a different point of view. Sometimes you’ll find something more interesting there.
When it came to taking photos, I didn’t do a good job of looking the other way in SMA – I was drawn to the same vibrant colors, beautiful architecture and inviting doorways as everyone else who comes here.
I did, however, apply this method to how I spent my time in town. I found a bike tour that promised to take me to parts of San Miguel that tourists don’t see, and I’m so glad I did.
By far, the highlight of my two days was the morning I spent biking around the outskirts of town with Christian, my guide. Since I was the only customer that day, I got a private tour. Christian has curated an educational trip visiting some of his favorite natural and historical sites.
From the moment we started, just after crossing the railroad tracks, we were on trails outside of the city, passing by agave plants, a refuge for donkeys, a small village with a historical church, a river of water lilies, and incredible scenery in every direction.
Christian took great care to make sure the pace was comfortable and to stop for water, snacks, and to share information about the places we visited. We also ate an incredible breakfast of “gorditas” at a roadside stand. I cannot choose a highlight of this excursion because every moment was truly magical.
Perhaps that’s because Christian himself is a fabulous guide and an interesting person who is easy to talk with. (Even his Spanish was so easy for me to understand that I forgot I was speaking it!) Making connections with people is still the best part of traveling.
That night, at the “mirador” overlooking the city, I met another person. This friendly Mexican man spoke to me in English, introduced me to his kids, including a nine-month-old, and shared a bit of his story. He works in Florida to support his family and drives his pickup 32 hours to visit and bring them supplies. His wife and kids cannot visit him since they cannot get visas. Though he pays taxes in the US, he lives in fear of how Governor DeSantis will impact his ability to work there.
Our conversation reminded me that there are many hidden stories behind the food we eat and the places we travel to. I’m grateful to have seen and heard different points of view while in San Miguel.
Below are three galleries to give you a glimpse into the world of San Miguel de Allende. Click on the images to expand them.
Streets, Doors, Murals
San Miguel at Night
The Best Part of San Miguel de Allende
Not many photos, but I would take this experience over any other I had in SMA.