Meeting new friends in San Miguel de Allende 1-22-2021
Updated: Feb 6, 2021
We left Guemez about 9:00 A.M. after saying our goodbyes to our Mexican family at their Ranch. The next stop will be San Miguel de Allende. We have made a few new friends since we started our life on the road. We are heading to San Miguel to meet Ayla and Jim.
They live in San Miguel and have been reading this blog. They have been saving money to buy an Airstream to travel as well. They are transplanted U.S. citizens. They lived in northern California and owned the Seagull Inn in Mendocino for many years. As retirement approached, they looked at selling the Bed and Breakfast and building a home in San Miguel. They had traveled here many times and fell in love with the city. Both meeting Ayla and Jim and discovering San Miguel looked exciting! They even helped us find San Ramon RV park before we started driving. Thanks Ayla and Jim!
The drive would be close to 6 hours from Guemez plus our usual stops. We did encounter some traffic due to road construction that added an additional 30 minutes or so. The drive was uneventful…..just like the way we like. I was messaging Ayla as to our estimated time of arrival. It looked like we would be at our campground at about 3:30 pm. They were going to come to visit us when we got settled in. Larry was driving and I was navigating with the help of GPS. I felt like our campground should be on the outskirts of town but GPS kept directing us closer and closer to San Miguel. The right turn into the main street should have made me think twice but I continued to listen to my Australian man announcing turns. The road turned to cobblestones and shrunk in size dramatically. I asked Larry, “How are you doing? ” He was ok but was I sure we were going the right direction???….well no! I’d never been here before. We made about 4 turns and were in the city pretty deep when the Aussie said, “You have arrived!!” What the F#@*!!! We were stuck too. The road was so narrow that Larry was afraid to go further. I told him to put the flashers on and pull over to the side as best as possible. We’re in Mexico...someone will help us out!! We have been in this type of situation a few times. Well, low and behold...our savior arrived a minute later! He spoke English and had driven trailers before. He spoke Larry’s language. He said we would have gotten stuck if we went much further. He knew the roads very well in the area. He said he would help us. Thank God!
What happened next was some pretty tricky trailer driving. It lasted only 30 minutes but probably took one year off of our lives! Larry had to back up the trailer on a narrow side street while our unnamed savior held up traffic on the 2-way street. Once we got turned around, which involved some driving on each sidewalk and scraping and bending the stairs, yet again, we headed out of the narrow street. Unfortunately, this 2-way street got narrow and turned into a one-way street a block up. One way in the wrong direction. Our savior said he would hold traffic until we could get to the intersection where we could make a wide right hand turn to get on a wide main road to the highway. He even enlisted tourist police to control the intersection when we got to it. After we were out, we pulled over to take a deep breath. Our savior had walked 5 blocks in front of us helping us out of a very bad situation. We offered him some money but he said it was just good Karma. He gave Larry directions to the highway that would take us around the city and back in the direction of our campground, which we had Passed on the way. He even rode in the truck till we got to the highway. We could not thank him enough!
We found the trailer park very easily and now seeing it, we don’t even know how we could have passed it. As we drove in, we saw Ayla and Jim waiting to greet us….with BEER!!! They are truly beautiful creatures! Larry found a spot to park and I got acquainted with our new friends. We all walked up to the upper campground to get to know each other. We pulled out 4 folding chairs and cracked the beers open. We opened up the trailer to let Gypsy out and immediately 2 very large aggressive dogs chased her. She hid for a while but when she tried to get back in the trailer they chased her across the campground and up a tree. They both sat there barking. Larry said she’d be fine so we left them there. Ayla announced some very exciting news. They were buying an Airstream in Colorado in a week. They would be starting their dream of traveling around Mexico. After a few beers, we went to check on the cat.
I had Larry climb the tree to get her down. I felt better about that. We put her in the trailer and kept shoo-ing the dumb dogs away. She had no desire to go out. We made plans for the next day with Ayla and Jim to explore their San Miguel. They even said they would pick us up around 10 am. Perfect!
Here are a few pictures that were taken around our camp.
Jim drove us all up to El Charco del Ingenio, a botanical garden on the top of a hill. They brought their little dog Tia along but she had to stay in the car. We walked around this very beautiful cactus garden with other indigenous plant species. They had a greenhouse that had a river flowing through it. They had many trails to hike around with one of them leading to a lake at the top of a dam. The dam was built for the textile industry at the beginning of the century. The water was piped down into the city to the factories. Most of that has closed but you can see the remnants of the large metal pipe. We saw lots of birds and there was a small playground in the middle for kids. We had amazing views of the city and surrounding areas. There was a small gift shop and snack bar. We all got some type of fabulous juices!
The next stop was a walk through the Centro and Mercado. This was a highlight for us. The city is built on a hill or multiple hills. Many houses are built together and painted bright colors. They are very ornate with amazing doors and windows. I was very happy taking pictures. We walked through the market and I bought a beautiful metal tree with birds and flowers. It was less than $10 US. A steal! We walked around to see many fabulous churches and buildings. I enjoyed the architecture. The city was taking precautions for COVID with masks, hand sanitizer and tunnels of disinfecting. The city overall was beautiful with very little litter. We have been to some places where there is a lot of trash. This was a very clean city. On the way back to the car, Larry and I picked up some fruits and veggies.
We went back to Ayla and Jim’s home up on the hill. They aren’t at the very top but they had a spectacular view of the Centro with many of the churches we visited earlier in the day. We had a few beers and got a tour of their home. After they found a lot, they enlisted an architect they had met in Northern California. She designed the dream house based on their desires. It’s 3 levels and about 5000 square feet. Both Jim and Ayla have their own studios. Jim plays music and Ayla creates stained glass, printmaking and many other items. They had a gym/yoga room and a guest room. The master bedroom is large with a unique round shower-it’s a signature of the architect. The main floor has the living room, dining room, kitchen, 2 patios and an infinity pool. The whole house is bright with large open areas and lots of windows from floor to ceiling. It’s really spectacular and I understand why they love to share it!
We had some yummy pizzas with their friends Dolores and Carlos. They are fellow Airstream owners and transplants from the US. We had a fabulous time getting to know each other. We enjoyed listening to Dolores and Carlos’ travel stories. They have been on the road for a whole lot longer than us. We are still traveling newbies and any advice we can gather from the pros...we always take advantage of it. Dolores made brownies for dessert and everyone had at least two. They were so good. Jim and Ayla took us back to our trailer about 7 pm. We had a lovely day and were hoping to see them one more time before we left.
Back at the trailer, we tried to get Gypsy out to do her business but each time we took her out, she sat in our arms and shivered. She would just run back inside. We had a visit from our campground neighbor Phil. He sat with us for a beer after his gig in town. He plays music at a local restaurant. He invited us but we were with Ayla and Jim still. Phil had lots of stories about driving trucks out of Jersey. He is semi-retired but thinks he might need to go back to the states soon. He misses driving trucks. He is the owner of the 2 unruly big dogs. Larry met him early Saturday morning when one of his dogs growled at him and Larry threw our broom at him. Phil confronted Larry, “Did you just throw the broom at my dog?” They talked about what went on and how his dogs chased our cat. He agreed to tie them up for a while. Maybe our cat would have a chance to go potty.
Sunday morning Larry got up about 5 am...that’s his usual time. Me...I sleep till 7:30 or 8. Gypsy came out with him about 6 am. He watched her but then she disappeared under the trailer. Some days she will spend the whole day outside and return in the evening. There were no dogs around so he figured she was good. When I woke up, I had quite a headache. I didn’t feel very well, mainly sick to my stomach. San Miguel is at 1,900 m (6,200 ft) elevation. I looked up altitude sickness and confirmed my suspicions. Plus the 4 beers hadn’t helped my situation. Alcohol makes altitude sickness worse. I didn’t eat much at all on Sunday. I didn’t feel like going out to explore anything more in the area. I was sad because we were planning on leaving the next morning so Sunday was my last chance. We did walk around the park grounds and we saw some nice birds. In the afternoon, we laid by the pool. It’s a warm mineral pool that they fill up Friday and drain it on Sunday night. I enjoyed just resting by the pool and working on my tan. Ayla and Jim had a commitment on Sunday but we were going to try and see them before we left the next day.
Since we were traveling the next day, we planned on going to bed early….like about 9 pm. Gypsy hadn’t returned from her morning adventure and both Larry and I were concerned. She usually is back by dinner time. Larry walked around the park calling for her but didn’t see her. We decided to leave the screen door open with the small slider window open. She can jump through it. We went to sleep but I was sleeping with one ear open. I really didn’t want to stay another night at this campground because I wasn’t happy with the dog situation. If Gypsy didn’t come back, would we leave without her? About 5 am Larry, popped out of bed. Gypsy had jumped through the window and was crunching away at her cat food. We both were relieved! She came back to bed with me and I slept till almost 9 am. It was great to have Gypsy back even though she smelled like grease. She must have slept the day inside the engine compartment of one of the campers in the park.
We packed up as quickly as we could. The drive to our next spot would be almost 5 hours. I just wanted to get going ASAP. Ayla and Jim had yoga until 10:30 am so I knew we wouldn’t be able to see them before we left. I’m sure we will see them on a return trip to San Miguel or perhaps we might meet them on the road.