San Miguel de Allende is the Mexico of dreams. Old world charm without the glitz of the beach resorts or the overwhelming problems of the border towns. It’s an ex-pat haven, approximately 10% of the population are foreigners, mostly Northern Americans, but the ex-pats seem to adopt the Mexican culture rather than attempt to change it. It’s a city of culture: music, art, religious ceremonies, great food, and, of course, literature. The library serves as place to lend books and a community center. The week we visited there was a classical guitar concert, a literary lecture and a Tennessee Williams play.
San Miguel is a town to meander around. The colonial buildings open into court yards containing stores, restaurants and galleries. And if the door is closed? So much the better because the doors of San Miguel are beautiful, so much so there is a book, aptly named The Doors of San Miguel de Allende, by Robert De Gast, documenting them.
Wandering through the streets, we stumbled upon Garrison & Garrison Books, an English language used bookstore. It’s fairly tiny store with about 8 bookshelves, a book table and a few tattered but comfy chairs. The flyers for ex-pat events showed the store was a bit of a community center itself. The store offers the traveler a variety of literature, mystery or airplane reads. There is also a selection of local interest books, among them said Doors book. Before leaving for Mexico, I looked for Life in Mexico by Frances Calderon De La Barca the Scottish wife the Spanish Ambassador from Mexico from 1839-1845, a book of lively letters, but was told that it was out of print. It was sitting on the table in Garrison & Garrison, I was thrilled until I noticed the size. It was a doorstop book that I couldn’t imagine carrying around all day and then home in my luggage. Every time I was in a taxi that drove by Garrison & Garrison, I was tempted to ask the driver to pause just for a minute while I ran in to buy a book the weight of a newborn child.
Recommended Reading for San Miguel de Allende
Not willing to endure an aching back from hauling around Life in Mexico, I did read two books that added flavor to my visit. To make progress on the Essay Challenge, I chose DH Lawrence’s Mornings in Mexico. Traveling in the San Miguel area while reading Lawrence’s essays created a dialogue between what I was seeing and what I was reading. The essays were written in the 1920s and described a world that is much changed 80 years later, but there was an essence of the place that Lawrence experienced and I sensed. The courtyard life Lawrence describes in “Corasmin and the Parrots” as he ponders evolution is very Read the rest of this entry »