I’ve barely posted about San Miguel de Allende. It seems to call for photos, and I don’t have many yet. Tomorrow morning I’ll take and post some of the house and colonia. First we have to get some decent batteries for the camera, since the ones we bought in the Tuesday market were crap. They’d probably been sitting there for five years. But for now, for a photos-free post, read on.
On our fourth day here, having taken a few rainy days to get acclimated, we set out on a finally-dry day to visit the preschool we’d heard about and the first of the rental houses on our list. The munchkin explored the school playground while we chatted with the director. Bingo. We liked everything we heard and saw and felt, and the format was just what we were hoping for: half days Monday through Friday, allowing us time for our own explorations but giving us more family time than we have when we’re both at our jobs; teachers who understand English so they’ll know what the munchkin is saying; a program that’s half in Spanish so she’ll learn it; kids from all over, some there to learn Spanish, others English. (Back home in the Bay Area, they call it dual immersion.) Having arranged for her to start school on Monday, we had lunch in the cafe across the street and then headed to our appointment to see the house on Calle Esperanza.
We were running late even by the relaxed standards of Mexico, so Joy went on ahead while I followed at the munchkin’s pace. She told me later that as soon as she walked inside, she told the owner that she loved the place and I would too. And when I joined them about ten minutes later, the first thing I did was signal to Joy that I loved it. So last Monday was an eventful day: Munchkin started at her new school and we moved into the house where we’ll be living until the end of July. Taking note of the streets between school and home, Joy said, “OK, this one is Tesoro. We don’t live on Treasure, we live on Hope.”
San Miguel has spiffier, newer, gringo houses; this one is not one of those . It’s a little funky, with lots of things that are just a little broken and almost everything a lot old. (There’s a huge, beautiful, wardrobe in our room with three mirrored doors and a sign on the center one, “Don’t open–it falls!” We’re not sure whether it’s the door that would fall, or the whole thing, and don’t dare to find out.) We’re waiting for the landlady’s brother to come put in light bulbs in the many fixtures that are missing them, and looking forward to being able to cook by overhead light instead of a floor lamp stolen from a bedroom.
Downstairs, an enormous brick fireplace joins the living room and dining room. Upstairs, twenty-five feet of windows fill our room with light. Brick arches, and in one place a brick cross vault, punctuate the stucco walls and ceiling. The house is decorated with years of amateur artists’ paintings and prints (some excellent), a full-length mirror carved with calla lilies, chandeliers made of thick multicolored glass, odd touches such as a wall of antique keys, tile details everywhere, and about twenty crosses, I kid you not. We need a plant for the hook on the stairway wall, and as it’s next to a cross, a crucifix, and a sacred heart, I’m thinking the Wandering Jew currently living on the roof would be appropriate.
A spiral staircase in the middle of our room goes up to the roof. I told the munchkin that in Spanish it’s called a caracol, a snail; she loves snails. She now calls it the snailcase. The huge rooftop has places to sit and a fabulous view of the city. It has a wall all around, but the munchkin still isn’t allowed up there alone, of course. The shared courtyard at ground level–a jungle of plants–is completely shut in and often houses a sweet old Golden Retriever named Zumm, and there she can play with minimal supervision. On her first couple of days here, she seemed to have developed a fear of dogs we’d never seen in her before. There are a lot of wandering dogs in San Miguel, and while I’m glad she doesn’t run up to every strange dog and pet it, I don’t want her to cry and try to climb up our legs every time she sees one, either. She was very scared of Zumm when she first saw him, and who can blame her? He’s taller than she is and about four times her weight. But she bravely made friends on Monday when we moved in, and now asks all the time if she can go outside and pet Zumm.
Tomorrow I’m moving a table into the second bedroom and making it my studio. Room to work, a bathtub the size of Lake Michigan, lots of light, a view of a beautiful city, funky touches everywhere–and all for less than one quarter of our rent at home. We’ve landed in a good place.