San Miguel De Allende has long been popular with American ex-pats and tourists for good reason. The remarkably well preserved colonial city center has an easygoing charm, characterized by narrow streets lined with unassuming facades that offer little hint of the tranquil courtyards beyond. However, unlike typical US homes that are like objects floating in a sea of space, houses, well, most all buildings in a colonial city with the exception of churches occupy their entire lot, the building wrapping itself around a private, interior courtyard featuring water, plants and living space. And if you are lucky, perhaps a roof terrace with a view. Our friends, Laura and Bob have just this sort of house in San Miguel, called Casa de Granada, so named because of the very old pomegranate tree in the courtyard. Located on Montes de Oca street, perhaps the oldest street in the city, their house is characteristic of the sort of house found in San Miguel. The house oozes charm, from the courtyard and outdoor living room, to the spectacular roof terrace (fortunately, they do rent it via vrbo). But you would never know what lurks inside from the street. Thus, we found ourselves craning our necks for a view of the hidden courtyards whenever we passed an open doorway during our walks around the town.
We took a lot of photos of architectural details, things such as doors, stone paving, door knockers and so on. Though most buildings in San Miguel don’t reveal much about their interior selves to passersby, the little details on display are wonderful. Craft is very much alive in San Miguel. Not only in construction, but in the arts and cuisine. For instance, we had a fantastic meal at the chef’s table of the restaurant Aperi, whose chef has Italian and Mexican roots, trained in France and discussed Danish restaurants with us. We were also lucky to be able to attend a music event at the ranch of local jazz guitarist, Gil Gutierrez. He and an international cast of musicians explored the sonic territory between Django Reinhardt and the Buena Vista Social Club while we drank killer Margarita’s and ate exotic quesadillas prepared by his wife.