All cities contain weekend escapes, places within a driving distance where people can unwind and spend time away from city life.
Mexico City is no different. Within driving distance (once outside the city traffic) you can find yourself sunning on the beaches of Acapulco, exploring the mountains and forests of Michocan, or walking the colonial cobble stone streets San Miguel de Allende.
Eventually, my travels would take me to all three, but first up – San Miguel. My visit fortunately coincided with Mexican Independence Day, an event not to be missed anywhere in Mexico and an event especially not to be missed in a place like San Miguel.
I left Mexico City early the morning of the 16th (the official holiday), with little sleep from the party the prior night. Impressed with the patriotism and celebration during the ‘El Grito’ in Coyoacan (inside Mexico City) I wondered how San Miguel de Allende might compare.
When I arrived at the town square I paused. This was Mexico. The Mexico you first imagine when you think of the country. Not Mexico City, not the beaches, nope, you think of the charming streets, the town square, and the local fiestas. You think of a place like San Miguel.
The town, apparently popular with American expats, was all about Mexico this day. Horses and history paraded around the square and streets to cheering fans. People waved flags and sipped tequila in cantinas singing sad songs of celebration. The celebration of a people and a place. The celebration of Mexico. And on a special day for all Mexicans, this gringo took something away.
Sure, I learned the fact that Mexican Independence had nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo (although I already knew that). But I also learned more. I learned Mexico was a place I wanted to explore, a place I wanted to stay.
At the time, I had just started working in Mexico City, and I loved living and working abroad, but I am not sure I loved Mexico. Not yet. Sure, I loved my time in DF and I also loved my birthday surf weekend in Puerto, but with the project off to a shaky start (my reason for being in Mexico at the time) I wondered where I’d be next.
But after that day and night, I changed my attitude. I decided I wanted to see more and realized there was so much more to see. Mexico got under my skin that day. It settled in. It never left.
Stay adventurous, Craig
Day 12 of 20 day Mexico bicentennial tribute. Happy Independence Day to Mexico Today. Viva!