San Miguel de Allende . . . and beyond!

We arrived in San Miguel de Allende on Friday, September 5 and left on Tuesday, Septmber 8. It's hard to keep track of the day and date when you're untethered like we are, but it's helpful to know in case a store or restaurant might be closed or whether a certain market is happening.

It's also necessary for us to know the date because we aren't completely untethered - we have plans to meet R's parents in Belize on October 2 so we are making a mad dash across 1,400 miles of vast and culturally diverse Mexico to arrive on time.

One place we do want to visit before we say adios to Mexico is Chichen Itza, which, it turns out, is a Mayan city and not a way to prepare chicken, for the autumnal equinox on September 22 when the sun will strike the temple El Castillo - so named by the Spaniards - in such a way that a serpent carved into the steps will appear to slither to the ground - something the Mayans actually planned and not a bit of architectural and astronomical dumb luck as has played such an instrumental role in shaping my own life. But more of that at another time.

Today, Wednesday, September 9, we spent the day at Erindira in Los Azufres, which is a park about 60 kilometers east of Morelia in Michoacan state. It's fairly close to the middle of the country, but a heck of a lot prettier than Oklahoma - no offense to any Oklahomans who may be reading this. Erindira is a hot springs and campground in a pine forest near a trout farm and at some high elevation, and it was all Wesley could do in second gear to climb the mountain to get here. Heck, it was all we could do to find our way here without a GPS or a map that has all the route numbers and town names marked on it, and R and I were about as far apart as you can get while sitting right next to each other and arguing whether to take 51 through Celaya, or 45 towards Mexico City, or 120 to Acambaro, or 43 towards Salvatierra, all of which might lead to some road that might lead to here. Of course, this happened just after R mentioned how well marked the roads were and I agreed.

Here's what R and I look like when we are not talking. Things turned out okay after I spent the night in the doghouse

Anyway, we made it before dark and set up camp and I slept in the tent by myself - kind of like being put in the doghouse. We had a lazy day today in anticipation of a long push towards the Pacific Coast tomorrow. We went for a soak in the various hot tubs in the morning and then came back to camp and did some schoolwork - I now am solid with polygons and can approximate how many tourists visit the White House in one year - and then strapped on our shoes to take our first hike in Mexico to visit the trout farm which is up 138 steps leading into the forest, through a barbed wire fence, and down a dirt road with a creek running across it which is narrow enough to jump over. This is how Coconut and J gain perspective on the world.

Trout farm

Broken bridge

hike to trout farm

  

J has made two fishing poles on this trip after he watched a few YouTube videos about how to make a pole and he's been patiently waiting to use them. He was hopeful that we could fish at the trout farm but even after we carried them all the way there, it was no dice. We hung around at the farm for awhile anyway and watched the fish swim in circles while one of the holding tanks was cleaned. Signs advertised that the fishery (how can it be a fishery if you can't fish? Doesn't one nurse at a nursery? Eat at an eatery? Bake at a bakery?) was recognized as a place that raised trout in a way that was environmentally helpful to both the fish and to humans and R and I would agree after we had a couple of them for dinner.

J and I tried to get in a few casts at the trout farm

We spent our time in San Miguel de Allende at Sean and Mittie's house regrouping, soaking up the hot showers, and throwing a bone over and over again to their dog Switters. R and Sean interned together in Guatemala in the last century at a non-profit development agency and reconnected recently through the magic of Facebook. Sean has been living in SMA for almost a decade, making money as a professional photographer, and partnering with Mittie as an adventure travel team. I recommend you check out what they are up to at www.seanandmittie.com because it's pretty inspiring - they planted more than a few seeds in the fertile valleys of R's and my brains. We really appreciate their hospitality in letting us take over their house for a long weekend, and thank them for introducing us to the "Cubano" sandwich at the shop with the green door. If you eat one of those every day, and order the green juice which includes parsley, you will grow old and happy.

Me, J, R, Mittie and Sean in San Miguel de Allende. Coconut took the photo

Coconut's rooftop campsite in Sean and Mittie's garden

Switters the dog, camped out at the feet of his new best friend J, who threw Switters his toy bone over a hundred times that day

Coconut gives Switters some bone action

Coconut and J sharing some Wifi time before lights out in the upstairs room at Sean and Mittie's

Another super cool thing that happened was that Sean took a bunch of photos of Wesley in different "poses" that looked really great and we can't wait until he's done editing so that I can finally write up a blog post about how Wesley is outfitted and how we manage in it day-to-day.

Sean gets Wesley in focus for its photo shoot

Vanamos family with Switters - the only dog I ever liked. No offense to my cousin Anthony's dog, Ricky Bobby (aka Reggie)

I've heard about SMA for a number of years as an American retiree community and we saw our share of viejo gringos at the farmer's markets, upscale clothing boutiques, and just around. Sean said that if you were looking for a non-immersive Mexican experience, you could find it in SMA.  

Here I am carrying our laundry and water up the alley and to the house. I had two bottles of family size Corona's in my back pockets.

Of course, that's not what we are looking for and the cobblestone streets, local markets, and tiled walls and houses give the city a real colonial look and feel. The other "Mexican" thing about it is that you can rent all-terrain 4-wheel vehicles and drive them around the city streets in traffic - which we did - on a tour that also took us out into the corn fields surrounding the city and up into the hills for a view over the lake and city.

R gives the thumbs up that J has things under control on the streets of San Miguel de Allende

J cracks a smile before getting back to the business of navigating noon time traffic in San Miguel de Allende

Coconut tries to catch up to J on our drive in the country around San Miguel de Allende

Vanamos rules San Miguel de Allende

A few weeks ago, or maybe just a few days ago, I've lost track, Coconut and J saw that you could buy a 4-wheeler at Wal-Mart for less than $1,000 (we figured out the conversion from pesos) and Coconut is in the process of writing a persuasive essay as to why we should buy one and ship it to her grandfather's lake house. I'm already convinced and I haven't even read her reasoning yet, but I know that after she and J were allowed to drive our rentals around - something I am certain they would not have been able to do in the States - I could probably get them to kick in some money towards the cost of buying one. They had a blast.