San Miguel de Allende
This past spring break while my peers were downing jäger bombs and long island ice teas in view of crystal clear beaches, I instead joined my family for a vacation to San Miguel. Rather than the crystal clear ocean vistas of the Yucatan peninsula where I grew up, San Miguel de Allende is perched in the mountains, closer to Mexico City than Cancun. I can't say I wasn't disappointed when I landed, my suitcases overflowing with bikinis. I hadn't bothered to do any research on our destination; after a hard semester all I was looking forward to was sun, sea and sand. I got none of the above, but what I did get was a culturally stimulating and downright gorgeous week in what has to be one of the most interesting towns in all of Mexico, and despite my initial misgivings, I enjoyed every minute of it.
During the few days we spent in Mexico City, the closest airport to tiny San Miguel, we enjoyed a feast organized by a friend of my father. Her husband is the head chef at the Intercontinental Mexico City and although she refused to eat most of the more adventurous delights he served us, I thought the chapulines were to die for.
Served with stringy chewy manchego cheese inside a soft tortilla, the spiced grasshoppers made the perfect taco, however weird that is to say. As much as I like eating heavily seasoned bugs, the escamoles where a little bit much for me. Apparently I enjoy barbecued grasshoppers but draw the line at ant larvae (?). Whatever.
One of the most striking features of San Miguel, besides the vivid colours, is it's artistic soul. Often called the art capital of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is overflowing with galleries and museums. Fabrica la Aurora, an old fabric mill turned art extravaganza, was having a small modern art showing with some of my all time faves (Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Basquiat oh my!) as a preview for an art walk happening (sadly) three days after I left. The whole mill was crawling with artists in residence, everyone with a different style, at their easel in their studio making magic. It was wonderful.
Frida Kahlo, the patron saint of Urban Outfitters and one of my person heroes, used to host her famous salons in this town and if you know anything about Frida, you understand why. It's overflowing with character in the very same way as she, and just as harshly beautiful. Stucco walls and balconies, bright blooms, striking mountain views, ancient cathedrals, an artists paradise really.
And for the low low price of 10 pesos, you too can go home with a Frida-esque flower headpiece. Seriously, I went crazy with these. Handcrafted dried flower-crowns from the heart of Mexico hands down beat anything in the H&M Coachella line, that's for damn sure.
So was it worth it to give up a week of boozin' and cruisin' to walk more than I've walked in 2 years uphill to placate my mother's intrinsic need to photograph literally everything she sees?
I dunno, you tell me