Real de Catorce, San Miguel de Allende (pt 1 2007 trip)
In 2007 my boyfriend and I took a road trip though Mexico and Central America. We spent several weeks driving down the gulf side of Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula. We left our car in Playa del Carmen (a town an hour south of Cancun) and then spent another month traveling by bus through Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala. It was a really awesome adventure though sometimes stressful (don't try this in a low clearance vehicle. . .) The mix of indigenous and European cultures makes these countries fascinating places to travel. Many places feel like Europe, with old colonial buildings and outdoor markets. The food is great- corn tortillas (flour tortillas origintated in Texas- you won't find them in Mexico), chiles, avocados, chocolate (still only found as a drink, as it was in precolonial times), mole, nopales (prickly pear), tamales, empanadas,and abundant fresh juice. Most areas have a year round growing season, so the produce is really fresh, and there is delicious and cheap street food everywhere. Most Americans are surprisingly unaware of the great things the countries south of the border have to offer, outside of the heavily touristed coastal areas.
After crossing the border at Laredo, our first stop, several hours south of Monterrey, was Real de Catorce, an formerly abandoned silver mining colony high the desert mountains. We drove for an hour up the old cobblestone road, passing by donkeys, prickly pears, and many crumbling buildings. We arrived at a tunnel, which was so narrow only one lane of traffic can go through at a time and was only lit by our headlights. The town is nestled in a little valley on the other side of the tunnel. The hotel we stayed in had a rooftop patio, and I remember being woken at dawn by the roosters. I was glad we had sleeping bags, as it was very cold there in November.
Our next stop, 5 hours south, was the beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. We stayed at the fantastic hotel San Sebastian, which was an old masion. Our room was only $20. San Miguel was one of my favorite places in Mexico. It has wonderful architecture, panaderias (pastry shops), and there are hot springs just outside of the city. We soaked at a place called La Gruta. There were many vendors selling freshly pressed juices, an apothecary with herbal tinctures, and a great artisan market. There is a large American expatriate community living here.
view from our hotel window. lots of traffic in this town!
my boyfriend, Robert
tilework in our bathroom
After two days in San Miguel de Allende, we drove an hour east to Guanajuato, another beautiful colonial city famous for it's pastel buildings and maze of tunnels underneath the downtown area. Driving here was especially challenging, as we'd completely lose our orientation after going through a tunnel. I forgot to take pictures here, but it's a beautiful place and well worth a side trip from San Miguel.