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12935 kms: San Miguel de Allende - Cobble stone streets and Cacti

Written on: Sunday June 1st, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

As we left Querataro with no real destination in mind other than "North" I pulled out the map in attempt to pinpoint a destination and saw that San Miguel de Allende was not too far away. Remembering the traveller who had told us she really liked it there we made a split second decision to veer off the main highway and check out the town.

After pulling into the campground, we quickly made our first friend, Doug (or at least that's what we called him). After offering him some water to drink, Doug quickly made himself at home in our campsite and comfortable in our lawn chair as he watched us unpack. When Rob pulled out some food, Doug starred awkwardly until Rob finally leaned over and offered him something. When Doug jumped into the van, we started to worry that he might be expecting to move in. Lucky for us, little Dougie only weighed a mere 10 lbs. Rob picked him up, patted him on the head and threw a stick to distract him as we prepared to leave the campsite.

As we headed out for a walk into the town center, we quickly discovered why others ranted and raved about this quaint little town. Settled in the 16th century the site then became an important player in the Mexican independence civil war. The well persevered colonial architecture and the important historical role resulted in the town being designated a national monument.  In recent years a large number of expatriates have "discovered" San Miguel supporting urban renewal and a greatly expanding art, theatre and music scene.

Navigating our way through the narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful colonial buildings we got excited and spent several hours getting ourselves lost looking for moments and elements to capture on film. Some of our best photos from the entire trip were taken in San Miguel as Rob and I alternated between photographer and subject. We stopped to rest and enjoy the ambiance when we arrived at the beautifully treed main plaza, which was bustling with people and families. Looking up at the pink gothic-like spires of the cathedral looming overhead, I felt as though we were sitting in the plaza of a European city. It was interesting to learn that the cathedral pinnacles were added in the 19th century by a famous indigenous stonemason. His design was based entirely on a postcard picture he had of a Belgian church.

The following morning we stopped at the Jardin Botanico El Charco del Ingenio, a large botanical garden located just outside of San Miguel, dedicated to cacti and other native plants of the region. The Mexican desert landscape actually hosts the largest variety of cacti in the world and many of the rare and endangered species are grown and protected in these gardens. We spent several hours hiking around the landscape, enjoying the unique and bewildering array of plant specimens before packing the van and hitting the road again.