After two weeks in Guanajuato, we took the scenic two-hour drive to enchanting San Miguel de Allende, which was an important place for John and Elizabeth and her mother Aileen over many years. In the 1990s they helped create Canadians for CASA ( now called Amistad Canada, an official Canadian registered charity) to support the Mexican NGO CASA which continues to provide much needed services to youth and families of San Miguel around many issues including reproductive health, nutrition, family violence and protection of the environment. It built a maternity hospital and family clinic and a midwifery school, the first in Mexico and has expanded its programs to include, among other services, school libraries in primary schools in many small towns in the surrounding countryside.
We were able to connect with current directors and members of Amistad, Charlie and Myra Novogrodsky, who offered us elegant digs in their rented hillside house.
There we became kids again playing on their water slide, listened to the CBC on (reporting record low temperatures), enjoyed some meals together and exchanged ideas of “must sees” in Mexico.
The bikes came out for trips to the surrounding countryside. First we headed off to Jalapa (unknowingly having to first conquer a steep cobblestone street that almost sent Deborah back home).
En route, while riding into the bush for a publicity shot for his next big fundraising trip, John got a thorn in his tire, resulting in a flat and road side patch job. Bike calamities continued the next day when he set off on a solo trip, only to have the tire explode, forcing him back into town to buy (and then lose) another tire…!
We walked downhill into town at sunset and celebrated his survival with a drink on a café balcony overlooking the imposing cathedral.
While our visit was limited to two full days, we took full advantage of the arts and cultural events the city offers. On arriving we found ourselves in the neighbourhood where a major mural festival took place recently. We also enjoyed the inspiring folk artists in the artisan market and had a fresh fruit juice break.
The first night, we joined other expats at an Amistad fundraising concert featuring Canadian folksinger Bram Morrison, followed by a dinner with Amistad members, including Mel Kliman, our former president who did all the hard work to get our official status, and his wife Eva.
Visiting the Centro de Bellas Artes the last night, we took in three art openings (photography, sculpture), enjoyed free wine and music (vimeo link below), and later struggled to interpret (in Spanish) a Fringe theatre play on the mysterious life of Italian/American/Mexican photographer Tina Modotti.
To see the Bellas Artes openings and hear the featured musicians, click vimeo below: